There is growing recognition of the benefits of decentralized water reuse solutions where water is captured, treated and reused locally.
Historic concerns about the cost and operational effectiveness of residential and decentralized wastewater treatment systems have led to the development of new treatment solutions that deliver reduced complexity, have a small footprint and are easily constructed in building to minimize aesthetics and odors concerns when located within existing neighborhoods.
As consumers begin to learn that septic tanks only produce an effluent that is 40 percent clean, membrane treatment, which produces and effluent that is greater than 99 percent clean, is leading the solution where water reuse or high nitrogen performance standards are specified.
The greatest portion of decentralized operating costs is associated with manpower. Unattended operation through simplicity in design and the introduction of remote monitoring technology is making these systems affordable.
In comparison to conventional biological treatment technologies, membrane bioreactor systems are able to maintain high biomass concentrations and operate with short hydraulic residence times. This reduces the biological system volume requirement and footprint on the order of 50 percent.
A variety of decentralized water conservation initiatives are being implemented.
One example is water "mining" whereby a decentralized system connects to a sewer line, draws off wastewater, treats it and reuses the water locally. The sludge removed from the wastewater can be put back in to the sewer main to be sent to the central plant.
Another system might intercept some of the treated effluent from a central plant and treat it again to a higher standard for reuse.
Sewer mining relieves pressure on existing, centralized infrastructure while at the same time conserving potable water supplies.
This is also a benefit for taxpayers because their local utilities do not have to expand existing water and wastewater infrastructure to accommodate the new development, often leading to a much lower cost for each gallon of water.
Would your community benefit from a decentralized wastewater treatment system?
Tom Smith is the former director of operations and marketing at Anua. Tom is driving demand for wastewater treatment, water reuse, rainwater harvesting and odor/VOC control solutions. He has a B.A. from Duke University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business.