WEFTEC 2011 – Day 2

The second in a series reporting on the Water Environment Federation’s annual technology conference. Part 1 here.

Day 2:

The second day of technical sessions started with lingering memories of the Hampton Road Sanitation District presentation. They do a lot of innovative stuff at HRSD and their progress in nutrient removal and use is cutting edge. Specifically, their pilot studies on source separation and collecting it were quite intriguing. In terms of treating wastewater, there are very different chemical and biological processes needed to treat “Number 1” which is entirely different than “Number 2.” During collection, they mix and can inhibit the breakdown and processing of each other, but in-system separation is not feasible. Source separation, on the other hand, means they leave your bathroom in separate pipes. In terms of urine, this can mean a rather simple set of steps to recover the Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and other salts. So that left the simple task of figuring out a way to separate the waste streams leaving the restroom and getting adoption by people. The guy speaking joked at how people originally looked at him as if he had two heads when he originally proposed the idea. It worked though. Now, they are collecting separated waste streams and creating separated quantities enough for doing further research on the nutrient removal and usage. He presented a really good story of questioning, innovating, and overcoming all kinds of obstacles for the sake of progress.

213: WEF/ WERF Hands on selection of the Best Combined Heat and Power System for your plant
Combined heat and power in the wastewater industry is the general presmise by which you use anerobic digesters to create methane (and break down organics). This methane is then used in some form to generate power. There are a few different ways to do this and depending on where you sit will determine what system you choose to use. The variables include: current pirce you pay for power, cleanliness of your gas stream, quantitiy of your gas, plans for utilization of power (how much waste heat do you need for plant use?), and how much extra resource do you have for running and mainteing a generation source. This workshop had plenty of attendees getting walked through this process. This was one of the most encouraging things to see. Although CHP is not a new concept, the newer technology and better understanding of it is making it more viable to a wider range of treatment plants, meaning less waste gas flairs and more renewable energy production. While the details are all a little technical, everyone can see the benefit of truly creating energy from what was thought to have previously no value.

209: Green Infrastructure: Beyond the Hype
This was another session where I had visions in my head that didn’t really come to fruition. In hindsight though, this session topic was exactly correct per the headline. The topic was actually stormwater. In terms of water, stormwater is something most people don’t think about until their house is flooding or they have driven their cars into a puddle they cant get out of. Like water treatment and wastewater, stormwater infrastructure is “out of sight, out of mind,” and only becomes noticed when it doesn’t work. The old imperative was to transport any precipitation off the land and away as fast as possible. The new paradigm, the “green” methodology, says maybe faster isn’t better. Maybe getting the water back into the ground or storing the water somewhere is better than runoff. This session gave a more practical and reality based approach to determining how green infrastructure works, how to maintain it, and presented equally the up and downsides of managing water instead of just trying to get rid of it. There was lots of talk about rain gardens. There was lots of talk about public perception, education, and interaction. Overall, there was a positive feel to the situation and it seems that progress is moving at the pace typical of massive infrastructure re-thinking. It won’t be done tomorrow, but its moving forward.

204: Wastewater Microbiology
The microscope people were still here on day 2. This was one of the only sessions that was repeated. I once again was unable to resist looking into a microscope to see the living world present in a single drop of water. Protists are cool, so don’t let anyone else tell you any different.

Next: Day 3. The conference really begins.

Will Dalen Rice

About Will Dalen Rice

Will Dalen Rice has a MS in Earth Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He currently works in the wastewater treatment industry.
Categories: Environment, Water
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Comments (1)

  1. Glad to see stormwater getting some attention at the conference. There’s a lot to be done – especially in terms of retrofitting stormwater management in areas which have already been fully developed.

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