Biosolids, soils, crops, ground water, and streambed sediments in the vicinity of a biosolids-application area near Deer Trail, Colorado

Science Center Objects

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (Metro District) applies biosolids throughout their properties (the MetroGro Farm) near Deer Trail, Colorado. These biosolids applications could affect the quality of water in alluvial and bedrock aquifers, streambed sediment, soil, dust, and crops.

Water quality can be directly affected through:

  • Contaminated recharge water, or
  • Infiltration of water through contaminated soils or sediments (remobilization).

Water quality can be indirectly affected through:

  • Tilling that mobilizes or changes subsurface chemical constituents, or
  • Contributions to natural processes such as nitrification.

Contaminated groundwater or surface water could contaminate:

  • Other aquifers, such as bedrock water-supply aquifers or alluvial aquifers,
  • Other surface-water bodies (ponds or streams), or
  • Streambed sediments

Biosolids must meet regulatory standards, and the biosolids chemical data need to be accurate or else agronomic loading rates will be incorrect and soils could be overloaded. Soil quality could either be improved by biosolids applications through increased nutrients and organic matter, or degraded through excessive nutrients or metals.

Location of biosolid application study area and monitoring sites near Deer Trail, CO

Study area for the biosolids, soils, crops, ground water, and streambed sediments in the vicinity of a biosolids-application area near Deer Trail, Colorado project. (USGS)

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a monitoring program to address concerns from a stakeholder group about the biosolids and the quality of the environment in the vicinity of the biosolids-application areas. The USGS monitoring program near Deer Trail is referred to as the "USGS Expanded Monitoring Program" and began in January 1999. The first phase of monitoring ended in 2003. All data and interpretive reports from the 1999-2003 monitoring period were published by January 2005 and are available to the public. An interim monitoring period (2004 through mid2005) continued the monitoring while reports were completed, results were presented, and a new phase of the monitoring program was negotiated for 2005-2011. The monitoring program ended  in December 2011.

 

Project area data from continuous data recorders:

Precipitation Gage:

Ground Water Conditions: