Extending the Lifecycle of Water via Decentralized Water Reclamation

Prepared for the 2013 NC AWWA-WEA Annual Conference by George Simon, McKim & Creed; Brent Zern, Matthew Early – Emory University; Tim Baldwin, McKim & Creed; Eric Lohan, Living Machines Systems

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Emory University (EU), located on approximately 700 acres in DeKalb County, Georgia, is a top-tier institution recognized for its medical school and various professional programs as well as its commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2011 and 2012, EU used an estimated 390 million gallons of water per year, equating to approximately 1.1 million gallons per day (GPD). Approximately 38% of total water use is for applications like irrigation and utility process water that do not require potable quality water. Overall campus non-potable water demand equates to approximately 150 million gallons per year or 410,000 gallons per day. A majority of this demand, nearly 60 percent, occurs at five area-wide utility plants where process water is used for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. This level of non- potable water demand provides a significant opportunity to replace large volumes of potable water use with alternative water supplies.

Sustainable Water, a leader in water reuse and reclamation technology, presented Emory University with a detailed assessment of their water footprint as well as a water reuse feasibility study. The results of studies proved that water reclamation and reuse at the Emory University campus, via decentralized wastewater treatment, is not only a viable method to extend the life cycle of water at EU, but an economic “winner” that will provide EU with immediate cost savings.

EU has commissioned Sustainable Water, and their team of engineering and construction providers, to develop and construct a decentralized water reclamation facility (Facility) and reuse distribution network via a Design/Build Own/Operate (DBOO) approach. The Facility will provide EU with 400,000 gallons per day of reclaimed water that will be used at chiller plants for cooling tower water make-up, and a steam plant for boiler water make-up. The heart of the Facility’s treatment process is the Living Machine®, blending cutting-edge science and engineering with plants and beneficial bacteria to efficiently treat and reuse wastewater, providing a lasting water solution for EU.

This paper will focus on the technical aspects of the treatment process design, as well of the economic benefits of decentralized wastewater treatment and reuse. The project is scheduled for completion mid 2013.

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