Next year, Kremmling will become the first Colorado mountain town to install a water reuse system.
Rather than being released into the river, wastewater that's nearly potable will be returned to the town's parks, ball fields and cemetery through a new system of pipes.
The system has two benefits, Phillip Johns, superintendent of the local wastewater treatment plant, told Vail Daily.
During times of drought, fresh water drawn from the Colorado River will not be needed for the fields. "We live in a desert here," he said.
Although the area is surrounded by mountains with melting snow that helps supply water to cities such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the Kremmling's valley floor gets only 11 inches of precipitation each year.
The reuse system costs about $1.3 million. But it's less costly than the alternative a new $3-4 million mechanical water treatment plant, which would be needed to make the water clean enough to be released into the river.
Located centrally in the triangle of Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Winter Park, population in the town of 1,650 people has been steadily growing while state and federal standards for treated sewage have become stricter.
The wastewater Kremmling will use to irrigate ball fields will be disinfected by ultraviolet light.
Josh McGibbon, an engineer at Golden-based Baseline Engineering Corp. who supervised the Kremmling study, said more reuse systems can be expected in small mountain towns in the future.
"That's the first thing we look at, whether it's a viable solution," he said.
While Aurora and Denver have installed major reuse systems during the past several years, new state regulations will no doubt encourage using such systems to water lawns, said McGibbon.