UCONN Wastewater Reuse Project Wins Platinum Award

(NEW YORK, NY- April 19, 2010) – The University of Connecticut (UCONN) Wastewater Reuse Project recently received top honors from the American Council of Engineering Companies – New York. The project was commissioned by UCONN and carried out by Hazen and Sawyer, with technical support from Separation Processes, Inc., Milone and Macbroom, and Puckorius and Associates.

This project marks the first-of-its-kind industrial reuse program to be undertaken in Connecticut, and is also one of the premier reuse projects completed in the northeastern U.S. As such, it has major implications for advancing the practice of wastewater reuse – increasingly important in light of skyrocketing water demands and overstressed supply sources.

The study centered on meeting UCONN’s goal of implementing a long-term, sustainable program that would utilize treated wastewater from its existing wastewater treatment plant for non-potable uses, including feedwater for its Central Utilities Plant (CUP) and turf irrigation. Driving this objective was the University’s desire to ease demands placed on its two permitted water supply sources, the Fenton and Willimantic River wellfields. In 2005, a portion of the Fenton River ran dry. This event was attributed to elevated water withdrawals necessary to meet the seasonal peak demand during drought conditions. While this incident has not since been repeated, its potential for recurrence prompted UCONN to implement several restoration and conservation measures. The wastewater reuse program is the centerpiece of this comprehensive effort to preserve valuable natural resources.

Hazen and Sawyer developed and evaluated several cutting-edge process alternatives to treat wastewater from UCONN’s sewage treatment plant, and determined the most efficient, practical, and sustainable solution for UCONN. The selected alternative utilizes microfiltration (MF) to treat wastewater effluent before its use as boiler feedwater and makeup for cooling towers and chillers. MF is an innovative, effective treatment process that removes both contaminants and pathogens by filtration through a porous membrane. Treated (“reclaimed”) water from the MF system will then be sent to an upgraded existing Reverse Osmosis system for use as feedwater for the CUP boilers. Reclaimed water from the new MF treatment system will also be used for irrigation on campus. Additionally, ultraviolet light will be used for disinfection.

The benefits of this precedent-setting project are vast. In addition to helping conserve strained water supplies and imparting to UCONN students the value of environmental stewardship, the reuse program will serve as a robust model for future reuse programs – leading to even greater environmental preservation. The Northeast, historically considered to be a “water abundant” region, will need to identify viable, sustainable alternative water sources as water demands heighten and climate change continues to affect the availability of supply. While reuse is a fairly common practice in the Southeast and Southwest on account of periodic droughts, its history in the Northeast is very limited – and no established regulatory framework existed prior to this project. Thanks to landmark permitting efforts, the project has helped institute reuse guidelines in the Northeast, opening critical doors for other such programs.

Since our founding in 1951, Hazen and Sawyer has focused on two things: providing safe drinking water and controlling water pollution. Our range of services encompasses the planning, design, and construction management of water and wastewater-related projects – from clean water treatment, storage, and distribution to wastewater and stormwater collection, treatment, and reuse.

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