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2008: "Water To Waste." education publication.

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2008 logoOnsite Wastewater of Northwest Michigan
"Water To Waste." education publication - Return To Main Index

Water To Waste Section Fourteen: A terrible waste to waste - when there's money to be made and saved by innovation.

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Bullhead Lake, Long Lake Township, MI

Are we so water-complacent here in northwest Michigan that we think our water wells will never run dry,
that our irrigation spigots will never sputter and fail, that our toilets will always flush on demand
and the contents magically disappear?
Or are we starting to see the writing on the wall, or rather the gas station price display?
In the world of wastewater and water infrastructure, designers and providers are starting to see innovative technological advances pay off in partnerships and joint ventures which seek to harness alternative power and unusual components.

....... if the wind happens to drive a generating turbine, the electricity output, after the turbine investment is repaid, “makes the power free, almost,” observes Rob Taylor. He’s energy manager for the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC) in Maryland’s Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties, and spends many millions of dollars a year on power for the numerous pumping stations and treatment plants.
Last year, Taylor took part in helping to structure a $150 million investment in wind-generated electrical power, to provide about a third of WSSC’s electrical load for the next 10 years.

Paradoxically, not only will the wind be “free, almost”, but, projections through the far-off timeframe of 2018 indicate the deal could save the agency as much as $20m on energy purchases.

The farm’s proposed location, in Somerset Co, PA, will help meet local air–quality goals under the Clean Air Act. It also helps satisfy WSSC’s participation in the Maryland Dept. of the Environment nitrogen oxide set-aside program.

All told, buying 70,000 MWh yearly in wind energy, equates to a reduction of an estimated 83,700,000 lbs per year in carbon dioxide pollutants, 583,000 lbs per year in sulfur dioxide, and 188,000 lbs annually in nitrogen oxides.

Constellation Energy will buy 100% of the new wind-power output (max. output capacity: 30 MW) from the farm to be built by Edison Mission Group. It will then sell 85% of this power output to WSSC, in two five-year blocks, at hourly whole-sale price structure of four cents per kWh, or $64 per megawatt-hour.

Altogether, WSSC expects to obtain about 70,000 MWh of power annually - equivalent to the load of 6,000 homes, supplying about one-third of WSSC’s total demand as it serves its 1.7 million ratepayers.
By David Engle. Reproduced with permission from Forester Media Inc. . www.waterefficiency.net/we_0803_water.html

A Terrible Waste To Waste
With the price of gas shattering records and electricity costs spiraling out of control in many parts of the country, the search for alternative fuels has taken on even greater importance.

One potential source of these new fuels is plentiful, cheap, and an inevitable byproduct of farming and industry: high-strength organic wastewater.

A growing number of supporters are pressing US industries and governmental bodies to support the increased production of biofuels: solid, liquid,or gas fuels derived from recently living organisms or their waste by products.

One existing source of biofuel hasn’t received as much attention as its proponents say it should: industrial and agricultural wastewater with high organic content.
’s puzzling is that this source of biofuels not only is plentiful but also brings with it a host of benefits to the industries and farms that tap into it. Farms, dairy plants, and heavy industries, for example, could all lower their monthly energy bills significantly by running their high-strength organic wastewater streams through treatment systems that generate methane biogas.

These facilities could capture that biogas and use it to provide power to their machinery.
Some farms and manufacturers are already doing this. But many more that could are not. And that, say supporters of biofuels, is a terrible waste. Ecovation, for instance, has provided its anaerobic system—its Mobilized Film Technology system—to the North Lawrence Dairy in North Lawrence, NY, a cultured dairy processor of brand-name yogurt and cottage cheese products which relies heavily on No. 6 fuel oil and electricity as its main energy sources.
Ecovation in the summer of 2005 installed its Mobilized Film Technology anaerobic treatment system to treat segregated high-strength wastestreams and reduce the load on the facility’s current system. Both were successful.

The treatment system generates enough biogas to replace nearly 250,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil each year. This figure accounts for 25% of the plant’s usage. By Dan Rafter. Reproduced with permission from Forester Media Inc.
For full article see www.onsitewater.com/ow_0711_terrible.html

Focus on Energy, Madison, WI
gave a total of $1.5m to 8 dairy farms to enable them to become more energy efficient by installing anaerobic digesters. “When completed, [they] will generate @ 3MW and 22,886,000 kW hours of electricity per year,”said Larry Krom, project manager for Focus.
“That is enough energy to power 2298 average WI homes.” A Focus press release lists the environmental benefits as equivalent to offsetting 11,443 tons of coal from being burned, the emissions from 19,407 cars and 25,175 tons of carbon dioxide from being released to the atmosphere. www.focusonenergy.com

In Zion Illinois, Minergy Corporation
operates a closed loop vitrification technology for the recycling of municipal biosolids, industrial sludges, and contaminated sediment and soils.
Converting waste into inert, marketable construction material, energy recovery, as part of the system operation, provides fuel for combustion, an air scrubber for odor treatment, and a mercury removal system.

City of Houston
Untold pounds of fats, oils, and grease (or FOG) are generated by food processing plants, cosmetic and toiletry manufacturers, food warehouses, and large commercial kitchens in hospitals, schools, convenience stores, and restaurants.
When FOG enters the sewer, it will cool and coagulate on the system piping. As grease solidifies on the interiors of pipes, sewage flow becomes restricted in sewer pipes or lift stations. It will eventually back up and cause a sanitary sewer overflow.

High concentrations of fats, oils, and grease in wastewater can inhibit the biological processes used to treat domestic sewage. Most sewer treatment plants are not designed to remove fats, oils, and grease.
And in your septic tank, FOG floats to the surface in the scum layer.
FOG results in 15,000 blockages of the City of Houston's waste water lines annually. Now Houston-based Nova Biosource Fuels, Inc., and several other municipalities are using yellow grease to produce biodiesel.

Buried Treasure
Michigan currently accumulates about 10 million scrap tires per year
Scrap tire piles are a fertile breeding ground for disease laden mosquitoes.
When tire pile catch fire, they are almost impossible to extinguish.
What better way to deal with a hazardous waste than to turn it into something useful? Scrap tires are already cut into slabs and used to line land fills. Chipped tires can find a new life as pavement surfaces or landscaping mulch.

Central MI Health Dept., through a partnership with MDEQ, has taken the example of other states and shown that scrap tires make an excellent alternative to stone in a septic drainfield.
Conventional stone for drainfields is getting harder to find. It is heavy - a cubic yard costs $16-20 and weighs 2,800lbs. It can be very difficult to manoeuvre equipment onto a home’s back yard. It can be dirty - that fine dirt can effectively clog and reduce the effectiveness of a drainfield. And it’s expensive when you consider where it has to be transported from.

By comparison - a cubic yard of chipped tires costs $4-10 per cu.yd. and weighs in at 800lbs. A traditional 600 sq. ft. drainfield can use over 960 scrap tires, or 24 cubic yards and weighs in at 9.6 tons. The same volume of stone weighs in at 33.6 tons! Chipped tires can be easily moved around in a wheel barrow - try that with stone!
The arguments against using tires?
“The steel leaves sharps which make it hard to work with.” - In fact wire strands may not protrude more than 1/2".
“They are a pollutant” - In 2004 tires used in drainfields were ruled to be inert and actually beneficial.

Water To Waste Section Two: Water / Energy Efficiency information and EPA WaterSense Program

Water To Waste Section Three: The inter-relationship between water use, wastewater, the water cycle and wastewater systems.

Water To Waste Section Four: Common sense information about how your wastewater system works

Water To Waste Section Five: Installation, siting, operation and maintenance.

Water To Waste Section Six And Seven: The many amazing things that end up in the waste stream and why we should be careful and concerned.

Water To Waste Section Eight and Nine: The state of our region - an attempt to survey wastewater systems.

Water To Waste Section Ten: The Case For Community Management

Water To Waste Section Eleven: Small community options, choices and solutions

Water To Waste Section Twelve: Understanding northwest Michigan geography and geology and how this relates to wastewater.

Water To Waste Section Thirteen: Information about different types of wastewater systems and case studies.

Water To Waste Section Fifteen: A word about who we are and our goals for the future - how you can help.

Water To Waste Section Sixteen: Gratitude to our sponsors and links to more information.

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