Water treatment education just a flush away

Colfax High School students tour plant
By: Marci Seither, Colfax Record Correspondent
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Colfax High School students from Suzanna Johnson’s environmental science class recently got a close up look at the importance of good water management, microorganisms and proper nitrate balance. “Ew,” said student Kassidy Gutierrez when told by Mark Fisher that every toilet in Colfax flushes into the wastewater treatment plant. “It takes 15 hours from the time the dirty septic flows into the plant until it is clean enough to drink,” Fisher explained to the class who busily took notes during the tour. “Basically, we do the same thing to sewer that your stomach does to your food, only we use state of the art equipment.” City Manager Bruce Kranz explained to students the importance of quality control and the benefit of having three overflow ponds totaling over 100 million gallons of extra storage. “We can only release a half of a million gallon of clean water per day,” said Kranz. “When you get rain fall like we just had it is important to have the extra room to hold overflow.” The advanced placement class also received a challenge from Mayor Josh Alpine. “Because of the area topography, the cost of pumping the clean water back to Colfax is prohibitive,” stated Alpine. “We are currently looking and entertaining options to utilize the land and the water,” stated Alpine. “If you come up with any ideas that seem feasible, we will look into it.” The city has had an arborist look at the options of orchards or vineyards, but the land is very limited on usability. “I thought it was interesting to see what happens,” said sophomore Amber Alexander. “This really helps us understand about water systems, how water is recycled and the importance of good water stewardship.”