Case Study: Morrison Creek, Colorado


The Challenge

In July 2023, Virridy began a new collaboration with Morrison Creek Water & Sanitation District to study an innovative approach to wastewater compliance and watershed restoration. Morrison Creek provides essential services to approximately 500 homes south of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with a maximum discharge rate of .35 million gallons per day.

Morrison discharges into Stagecoach Reservoir, located on the Upper Yampa River. The rives has had toxic algae blooms, due to high levels of nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen.

Testing from 2021 shows some toxic algal blooms have been found in Stagecoach Reservoir, typically in late summer, though the levels have not required recreational closures.

Agencies, such as USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, are working with landowners regarding nutrient management, including fertilizer application, grazing practices, and riparian buffers.

While increased nutrient levels appear not to be connected to the wastewater treatment plant output, the district is expecting to be required by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to reduce levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in its discharge in upcoming permits.

Comprehensive Compliance Options Analysis

Virridy is currently conducting a comprehensive compliance options analysis. We will examine the lifecycle emissions impact of a potential reverse osmosis facility upgrade and compare it to the emissions benefit of reducing agricultural runoff upstream.

Our approach will involve looking at measures such as livestock fencing and off-channel watering facilities, riparian restoration, sustainable on-field practices like cover cropping, irrigation upgrades and small edge-of-field wetlands. Importantly, we will calculate the amount of carbon credits that could be generated through a new carbon crediting methodology, which allows project developers to compare the greenhouse gas emissions impacts of different options and monetize that difference if a utility selects the lower-carbon option.

This methodology is in expert review with Regen Registry. The financial incentive would reduce the costs of a watershed compliance program, while also demonstrating the projected air quality impacts of the reverse osmosis upgrade.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Our objective is to deliver this analysis to the team at Morrison Creek within a few months, providing them with the vital data they need to make informed compliance decisions. This collaboration underpins Virridy's mission to transform the water treatment industry through carbon financing, empowering our clients to make financially and environmentally responsible choices that also holistically enhance the health of their local watersheds.



“This could be a game changer, not only for us at Morrison Creek, but for the entire water treatment industry. We can't wait to delve deeper into this promising avenue."

- Geovanny Romero, Morrison Creek Water & Sanitation District


Virridy’s work has been made possible by a critical grant by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, as well as a pre-purchase carbon credit commitment by M.A. Mortenson Companies.