Rawhide is operated as a zero-liquid discharge facility which means all cooling water, process water, and industrial stormwater is managed on-site. This unique system saves water and minimizes the possibility of facility discharges. Most of the water stored in the 500 surface acres Hamilton Reservoir is used in Rawhide’s closed-loop cooling cycle. Water flows from the reservoir into the plant where it is used for cooling steam. The temperature of the water increases during the process before it is discharged back to the reservoir to be used again. Process water used in the air quality control system and ash sluicing water are reused before ultimately being consumed in the plant processes.

Hamilton reservoir is underlain by naturally occurring highly impermeable clay and shale strata that minimizes seepage, although, due to the arid conditions, some evaporation does occur.

The majority of the water stored in the reservoir is secondary-treated effluent originating from the City of Fort Collins Drake Water Reclamation Facility. This “reused” water is transported to Rawhide through a 26-mile long, 24-inch diameter pipeline. Before the water is released to the reservoir it goes through an on-site treatment process where additional impurities are removed. This use of wastewater effluent in place of higher quality water frees up resources that benefit local communities.