Runoff Recycling on the Taxiway

After reading about and discussing Denver International Airport’s centralized deicing infrastructure, I was able to see it action yesterday.

According to ACRP Report 125 (, the airport has 7 dedicated deicing pads that cover 36 acres. The pads are surrounded by slotted drains that direct runoff to a glycol recovery facility (drains are visible just behind the deicing truck in the photo).

A secondary stormwater collection system services an additional 61% of the airport. This second-tier collection system sends potentially contaminated runoff to retention ponds for eventual collection and disposal at a wastewater treatment plant.

The airport captures, on average, 69% of the deicing fluids applied on the pads. Of this amount, 45% to 50% is recycled as glycol by an independent contractor who operates an onsite recovery facility. Another 47% is sent to a wastewater treatment facility, and 3% is transported to the landfill as recycling sludge.

I enjoyed watching the chemicals drip off the wings, knowing that I was made safer by the practice, and the runoff was being managed in a way that saved the airport money AND was protective of the environment.

Thanks to the DIA Infrastructure Management team for a great meeting yesterday.

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