The Future of Water and Wastewater
Excerpted from the presentation to the National Water and Wastewater Association Annual Conference, by Scott Foster, President, and George Thorpe, P.Eng and Vice-president BI Pure Water, Toronto, Nov, 2016
As sickness from contaminated drinking water, pollution from poor waste treatment, emerging contaminants, and a shortage of clean water become an increasing part of our world, what will be our next generation solution?
Solutions for WATER will be:
1) Watershed management and control become a priority. A high quality raw water lowers the overall treatment and maintenance costs of a system.
2) Recycling and reuse, with technologies such as composting of organics reduces the load on sewage systems. Metals, minerals and even sand can be recovered from wastewater, and used as a resource.
3) Distributed or decentralized plants for water treatment become easier to employ when centralized treatment becomes outdated or overloaded because they don’t add new piping, pumping or problems to new communities.
4) The realization of Emerging Contaminants in our water supply such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and endocrine-disrupting compounds raises the need to treat for them. Up to 90% of oral drugs pass through the human body and end up in the water supply.
1) Recovering nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen generates a high value fertilizer from an existing resource. The process has become both environmentally and economically viable. Regulations can stimulate the recovery of products from waste streams and create a circular economy. The load on sewage treatment facilities is reduced.
1) As we seek to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we will monitor, control and conserve energy with the help of advancing control systems and meters.
2) Distributed generation fuel cells and other devices can be operated from waste at independent locations. Other breakthrough technologies are near commercial launch. The plant of the future will be net energy positive, and there will be new technologies that allow for better income from various sources such as nutrients and biogas.
3) Energy consumption is one of the largest factors affecting profitability and competitiveness. Reducing energy costs and improving energy efficiency in production processes adds to the bottom line. Super insulation and efficient heat capture are two technologies waiting to be developed.
Through Public/Private Partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure, projects may increasingly be design-build and have creative distributions of cost. Water will no longer be taken for granted as a free public resource. New compact treatment technologies will have a smaller footprint, be more efficient and reduce cost of treatment. However they will require high tech sensors. There are exciting developments in LED ultraviolet disinfection and chlorination
2) Remote monitoring and control makes the operator’s job more efficient, allowing one operator to manage several small treatment plants. Expanded training programs and networks train young operators to take over the gap left by retiring operators.
3) Design-for-resilience takes into account longer term influences, as well as returning systems to functionality faster after severe disurbances.
4) Considerable resources are being invested in water and waste innovation. Some of this innovation should leapfrog from current innovations to take advantage of the many things we already know about WATER.