CH2M HILL will join Aurora Water to host a tour of the Prairie Waters/Binney Water Purification Facility on Tuesday, June 11 from 8:30-1:30 during the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE 13), in Denver.  In the fall of 2010, the City of Aurora celebrated the completion of the Prairie Waters Project, which features an innovative use of natural and technical treatment methods to recapture water from the South Platte River to enhance supply through indirect potable reuse.  The CH2M HILL-led project was finished ahead of schedule and more than $100 million under budget. CH2M HILL Chairman and CEO Lee McIntire participated in the system’s formal dedication ceremony and heralded the project as “a first-of-its-kind strategy that is an innovative and sustainable approach for new water resources.”

“The aquifers of our world are drying up,” Lee McIntire said at the opening. “To have this right here, we are blessed.”

The tour will begin at the Alluvial wells (riverbank filtration) along the South Platte, then visit a pump station along the 34 mile pipeline and end at the 80-acre Binney Water Purification Facility, one of the most technologically advanced water treatment facility in the country.  It uses an advanced ultraviolet oxidation process that is among the largest application of UV oxidation in the world, with the capability of treating more than 50 million gallons of water each day.

The Prairie Waters system includes 34 miles of 60-inch diameter pipeline, three pump stations, a natural purification area and the Binney treatment facility. Designed to protect the city against drought, like the one in 2002 that left Aurora with only a 9-month supply of water, the system is a cost-effective and environmentally responsible project that uses a sustainable water source by recapturing river water.

Aurora, like many other cities in Colorado, relies on mountain runoff for most of its source water, which is an inherently unpredictable supply. Prairie Waters has provided a solution by pulling water from the South Platte River and pumping it to Aurora, where it is treated at the Binney plant using riverbank filtration and ultraviolet advanced oxidation to remove contaminants. Biological filtration, adsorption and finished water blending are used to make this urban source water indistinguishable from the mountain supply.

34 miles of pipe send water from the South Platte River to the new treatment plant in Aurora.

Aurora Water utilized a unique combination of traditional and innovative funding sources to finance the Prairie Waters project. The environmentally-friendly nature of the project allowed Aurora Water to create partnerships with conservation agencies who supported the city’s efforts to design a sustainable project that protected wildlife habitats during construction and promoted responsible water use. That helped the department secure a low interest $75 million loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

In addition to enhancing the community’s potable water supply, Prairie Waters also positively impacted the local economy at a time when economic belts were tightening.  More than 300 separate companies were contracted for the project, and payroll during the project exceeded $44 million.

For more information on the Prairie Waters project, visit  For information on the Binney Water Purification Facility tour, visit the ACE 13 website.