Our Story

Construction of our first facility, the Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility and 50 miles of interceptor sewer lines, began in 1964. The plant began operating in 1966. Scroll through the timeline below to learn more. For a comprehensive history of Metro Water Recovery until 2009, read A 45-Year History by Steve Frank here.


Aerial of land that the Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility sits on in 1964

Civic leaders of 13 metropolitan Denver cities signed an historic agreement on May 15, 1961, that created the Metropolitan Denver Sewage Disposal District No. 1.


Aerial of Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility in 1966

Central Plant was completed and began accepting test flows from Denver’s North Side Plant late in the year.


Sludge disposal in ash lagoons in 1971

The District began conducting research on land application of biosolids. It also established agriculture test plots near Watkins.


Lab in the early 1970's

Congress passed the far-reaching Clean Water Act, and it was signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon in October.


Research of the beneficial reuse of sludge in 1972

Metro beneficially recycled biosolids in 1973 by trucking vacuum-filtered sludge cake (about 16% solids) to the old Lowry Bombing Range, spreading the solid material onto the surface to dry and then disking the dried sludge cake into the soil with farm implements. The applied areas were seeded with wheat after adequate dormant time to minimize seed inhibition.


Aerial of Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility in 1977

In December, the South Plant went online when flows were directed there for the first time, roughly doubling Metro’s treatment capacity.


Building digesters at the Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility in 1977

Eight new 244,000-cubic-foot anaerobic digesters were completed in 1977 to digest Metro’s sludge.


Construction of interceptor in 1983

Metro expanded its role as a regional wastewater treatment agency in 1984 with the completion of much of its $126 million sewer improvements program and the takeover of Denver’s common wastewater facilities.


Sand Creek interceptor coming into Robert W. Hite Treatment Plant in 1985

The Metro District system grew dramatically with the addition of more than 171 miles of interceptors and the Denver Northside Plant primary facilities. Its services were extended to more than 23 local governments, which previously had been served through Denver. These local governments are now referred to as Special Connectors.


Admin Building in 1979

With the acquisition of the Denver common system, the District planned to build new primary treatment facilities at its Central Plant to replace the older Denver Northside primary facilities.


CoGen engines and generators in 1985

The $7.8 million cogeneration facility went online in April.


Al Hehr and Les McDaniels in 1986

The industrial waste control (pretreatment) program began.


Document signing event with Robert Hite and William McNichols in 1983

The Denver Northside Treatment Plant was shut down.


Compost application for reclamation of Overland Pond Education Park in 1985

The District reduced costs by switching to applying sludge cake on agricultural land.


Robert W. Hite Treatment Faciity sign in 1993

The board changed the name of the organization from Metropolitan Denver Sewage Disposal District No. 1 to Metro Wastewater Reclamation District.


Construction of nitrification project and East Blower Bldg in 1985

The District completed improvements to the Nitrification/Denitrification System and optimized its performance. This $47.2 million system involved extensive modifications to the District’s treatment facilities.


Marsha Casteel Training on new purchasing system in 2009

The District adopted e-mail.


Incorporating biosolids at Deer Trail Farm in 1995

The District purchased approximately 36,000 acres of property near Deer Trail, Colorado, adding to the 1993 purchase of 9,900 acres.


Digesters in 1993

Staff implemented the Fixed Asset Replacement Program.


Metro initiated its Comprehensive Planning Program.


For the first time in its 35-year history, Metro’s employees achieved a million man-hours worked without a lost-time accident.


Metro adopted the Service Area Utility Plan to manage the Transmission System. Flows decreased and farming operations took a hit during a historic drought that hit Colorado and the West.


Metro began a major update to South Platte River Water Quality Model to assess impact of in-plant treatment and in-stream improvements.


Metro began using a new, computerized Laboratory Information Management System, called LabWorks. Metro also incorporated geographic information system (GIS) technologies into its systems.


Metro phases out the production of Class A compost and associated buildings are removed. Board of Directors downsized from 67 to 34 members via reapportionment with revision to an establishing statute.


Metro’s Board of Directors approved the Northern Treatment Plant Wastewater Utility Plan.


northern treatment plant

The Northern Treatment Plant begins operation in Brighton, Colorado.


The Board of Directors adopt the Metro District’s Strategic Plan


Delgany interceptors

Planning begins for the Second Creek Interceptor, a major pipeline that will travel through portions of Adams County, Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Denver, and Denver International Airport to be served by the District’s Northern Treatment Plant.



The largest MagPrex phosphorus recovery reactor in the world begins operation at the RWHTF.