From Waste to Water

Clean water is essential for life. Clean water is a basic human right.

Metro Water Recovery is a non-profit public agency. We provide an essential public service and were formed in 1961 to protect public health and the environment. At the time, raw sewage was being released directly into the South Platte River with little environmental oversight, which resulted in high levels of contamination.

Today, Metro is the largest resource recovery and clean water provider in the Rocky Mountain West, serving approximately 2.2 million people in an 805 square-mile area. In partnership with 62 local governments, comprised of cities, sanitation districts, and water and sanitation districts, we clean millions of gallons of water every day to be suitable for agriculture, aquatic life, recreation, and water supply.

Metro Water Recovery is an anchor organization of the Denver-metro community and provides benefits to the community beyond its clean water services.

South Platte River
South Platte River downstream of the Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility

We Get Your Water

Transforming Wastewater to Clean Water and Valuable Resources

Every day, Metro collects and reclaims about 130 million gallons of wastewater from our community’s homes and businesses. During treatment, we remove more than 95% of regulated contaminants and carefully monitor the South Platte River to protect public health and the environment.

Due to upstream diversions that move water away from the South Platte River, the water Metro cleans accounts for 85% of the South Platte River’s flow for nine or more months out of the year. The water we recover transforms what has historically been considered a waste product into a valuable asset with many different beneficial uses.

Through treatment, Metro transforms what most people forget about after it goes down the drain into sustainable energy, renewable resources and clean water:

Sustainable agriculture

Soil amendments and phosphorous-based fertilizer is generated to promote sustainable agriculture and enrich Colorado farmland.

Clean energy

Methane gas from the treatment process is used as fuel to make enough electricity to power almost 4,000 homes.

Heat recovery

Heat from the untreated water is recovered as a sustainable and reliable clean energy source for residential developers and municipalities.

Clean water

Water quality is equally as important as water quantity. Our facilities provide the highest quality treatment for approximately 2.2 million people with a capacity to clean about 220 million gallons of water per day.

Water Quality Monitoring and Data

Metro employees have been monitoring water quality in the South Platte River since 1972.  The monitoring programs have expanded over the past 50 years to address the evolving regulatory landscape, develop and calibrate a South Platte Water Quality Model, and better inform the overall scientific understanding of our river. Current programs include: 

  • 21 locations along the South Platte mainstem, tributaries, and effluents monitored twice a month 
  • 9 locations along the South Platte mainstem from Denver to the Colorado – Nebraska border sampled once a month for nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) 
  • Special 24-hour studies to quantify river metabolism (respiration, photosynthesis, etc.) 
  • 20 groundwater sites monitored four times a year 
  • 14 biological sites (fish and macroinvertebrate) monitored in the fall season

Metro makes every effort to make this extensive data publicly available and to share this information with collaborators so we can all learn more about the health of our river. Once the data is reviewed for quality control, it is uploaded every year to both the Colorado Data Sharing Network and the National Water Quality Portal. All of our data (through 2023) can be viewed and downloaded from these publicly available databases. The most recent five-year datasets (2019-2023) can also be viewed/downloaded below. If you have specific questions about our monitoring programs or water quality data, contact us.

Water quality test
Fish measuring


In Colorado, there is no such thing as “waste” water.

As a headwaters state, every drop of water in our river basins is precious and plays a key role in public health, recreation, aquatic life, agriculture and drinking water.

Metro’s commitment to stewardship has a substantial and growing positive impact on the environment by cleaning water, generating renewable energy, and promoting sustainable agriculture.


South Platte River at 120th Avenue

Get Involved

Schedule a tour, request a presentation, or learn more about Metro’s stewardship initiatives. Submit an inquiry using this form, call 303-286-3455 or email

South Platte River