Disposing of excess sludge – the organic remnants of the wastewater treatment process – is a significant economic and environmental challenge for anyone who operates a wastewater treatment plant. The facility needs to treat the wastewater and then remove the biosolids. What if the sludge was not an irritation and instead became a valuable part of the facility’s resource recovery?
Anaerobic Digestion has played a key part in turning wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) into water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). The byproduct traditionally called “waste gas” is used as biogas - a renewable, clean, green energy source. Some facilities have been able to generate enough to put renewable natural gas (RNG) into a pipeline and/or send power back to the grid.
When a large dairy expressed interest in placing a new Greek yogurt plant in an industrial park in Cortland, New York, the community improved its chance to secure the plant and provide future economic growth by upgrading the City’s wastewater treatment facility so it could offer no-cost trucked waste disposal for the dairy facility.
Not every utility that cleans wastewater views itself as a wastewater treatment plant.
“Some utilities have started making the shift from saying ‘we make clean water’ to saying ‘we recover resources from water,’” said Matt Williams, an anaerobic digestion/biosolids expert from WesTech. “They are seeing themselves as water resource recovery facilities.”