Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) Recognizes San Antonio Water System for Achieving a Clean Water Trifecta

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The Water Environment Research Foundation recognized San Antonio Water System with its Award for Excellence in Innovation for achieving its goal to recycle and use all treatment process residuals.

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) recognized San Antonio Water System (SAWS) with its Award for Excellence in Innovation on October 2, 2012. SAWS received the award for achieving its goal to recycle and use all wastewater treatment process residuals. San Antonio’s motivation to achieve that goal grew from its conviction that wastewater treatment process residuals are valuable resources to be beneficially used, not waste products for disposal. That conviction resonates well with recent WERF objectives to help the water quality industry embrace a different view of wastewater – not just as a waste, but as a valuable resource.

In the 1990s, SAWS recognized that water scarcity was plaguing watersheds locally and regionally. It concluded that recycled water could be the solution to many environmental challenges. Consequently, SAWS sought to build 130 miles of major trunk lines to deliver 35,000 acre-feet of recycled water. Around the same time, SAWS sought to tackle its biosolids challenges based on WERF research conducted in the 1990s. SAWS began to send all solids to one facility – the best performing and newest. By installing two biosolids transfer lines and a raw water interconnect, SAWS eliminated the need for rehabilitation and replacement of equipment at three treatment plants. It also reduced staffing needs. The final result has been a higher quality product produced at a lower cost which influences long-term rate stability. The third element of San Antonio’s plan was securing beneficial use of digester gas. This last challenge was met using state-of-the-science information from WERF and entering into a public-private partnership. SAWS’ partner built a gas conditioning/compressing facility next to SAWS digesters. The partner performs all operations and maintenance of the facility. The gas simply goes into a large distribution pipeline and is sold commercially.

The Award for Excellence in Innovation recognizes organizations that have made improvements to wastewater and stormwater collection, storage or treatment operations, facilities, or processes by applying WERF research. A team of WERF volunteers who themselves are some of the most recognized individuals in the water quality community, selected the recipients from a field of well-qualified organizations. “We encourage those applicants who did not receive the award to re-apply next year, emphasizing the progress they have made in their implementation efforts,” states Selection Committee Chair and WERF Board Member Joseph Zuback of Global Water Advisors, Inc. Additional information on this award can be found at http://www.werf.org.

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The Water Environment Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 1989, is America's leading independent scientific research organization dedicated to wastewater and stormwater issues.

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