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Water Treatment

The Fort Collins Water Treatment Facility, staffed 24 hours a day by state-certified operators, chemically and physically treats raw water to make it safe to drink. Our treated drinking water and corrosion control consistently surpass state and federal standards for purity.

The facility has received the President's Awards from the Partnership for Safe Water. This award is bestowed upon top-tier water plants that have demonstrated commitment to providing superior quality water to their customers, beyond the requirements of the EPA regulations. 

It also is a Gold Leader in the Environmental Leadership Program, which recognizes drinking water facilities that go beyond compliance with state and federal regulations and are committed to continual environmental improvement.

In accordance with the City Environmental Policy, the Water Treatment Facility implements an Environmental Management System to ensure we continue to meet and exceed our regulatory requirements, prevent pollution in all aspects of our operations and foster a culture of continuous improvement related to environmental performance. Our Environmental Management System is certified to comply with the ISO 14001:2015 standard. To learn more about our program or provide comments, contact V1RGRU1TQGZjZ292LmNvbQ==.

The Water Treatment Facility has a photovoltaic generation system on site that produces approximately 100 kilowatts to help offset utility electric power needed to run the plant. Power from the solar field meets about 4% of the facility’s power needs. The facility also has a 75-kilowatt microhydro electric generator, which generates power using the incoming water pressure from Horsetooth Reservoir. The microhydro unit meets about 20% of the facility’s power needs.

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Water Treatment Process

The map and descriptions below explain each major section of the process.

Presedimentation Basin

Before raw Poudre River water is piped to the treatment facility, it passes through the presedimentation basin. The basin screens out large debris and settles out sand and silt.

Rapid Mix

The water is mixed at high speed while aluminum sulfate (alum) is added to chemically combine with contaminants and neutralize the electrical charges. This allows the impurities to begin coagulating, or forming small particles that can more easily be removed.


The small contaminant particles formed in the rapid mix begin to collect and form larger particles, called floc, which are heavier than water. The water is mixed slowly at different speeds to assist floc formation, and a polymer is added to strengthen the floc.


The larger suspended particles (floc) formed in the flocculation basin settle to the bottom of the basin. Inclined plates are used to speed the settling. Clear water is skimmed off the top of the basin.

Solids Drawoff

After settling to the basin's bottom, the floc is scraped into a pit and drawn off through a pipeline. The resulting material, residual solids, are spread out in a shallow pond, where they dry out for easier handling.


The clarified water flows through layers of sand and anthracite coal to remove any remaining impurities.


Is a small holding tank where the finishing process takes place, ensuring that the water is safe and healthy to drink. Chlorine is added as a disinfectant according to state and federal regulations. Fort Collins citizens mandated the addition of fluoride in the 1960s to enhance dental health. Lime and carbon dioxide are added to make the water less corrosive to home plumbing systems.

Chlorine Contact Basin

To ensure that the drinking water is adequately disinfected before reaching the first customer, the treated water flows through the serpentine-like Chlorine Contact Basin before going into storage, to provide adequate time for the chlorine to do its job disinfecting the water.

Storage and Distribution

Once water is treated and ready for drinking, it is stored in underground reservoirs until needed. The reservoirs provide storage for 37 million gallons of water that can be used during high-use periods. Underground pipes carry the water from the storage reservoirs to your tap.