|Summer 2017||By Jay Kemp|
When I started in our industry we had wastewater treatment plants that were designed to do one thing very well: remove BOD. Soon there were Water Pollution Control Facilities, eliminating the word waste from the title. Then there were Water Reclamation Facilities. These periodic re-brandings over the decades since the 1970’s and 1980’s reflect how we view our work and how we want to be viewed by the public. The plants that removed BOD have been modified with re-trained bacteria to remove nitrogen and phosphorus and operate more efficiently resulting in improved water quality with lower energy inputs. This evolution represents continuous improvement in the core function of our treatment facilities: producing clean and safe water.
Now we are embarking on Resource Recovery Facilities, placing an emphasis on the value of the products that our facilities generate. In addition to clean water, there is nutrient recovery and energy production and more. It is an exciting time to be in this business. The 2017 Annual Conference featured an entire track on Enhanced Resource Recovery including production of bioplastics from digester gas. How cool is that! And of course new acronyms: Minnesota Section now has an R2E Committee and if you’re in Green Bay- home of NEW Water, you have R2E2. Illinois has an Energy committee and our Wisconsin Section has created an Energy subcommittee within the Operations Committee. I am sure this new initiative will receive the attention it needs from incoming Operations Chair Jeremy Cramer.
As Milorganite enters its 91st year I think it’s fair to say that resource recovery is nothing new to our industry. Creating a fertilizer product that is marketed successfully to the public is the high water mark of resource recovery. More recently struvite precipitation has been controlled to convert the evil, pipe clogging mineral to a commercial fertilizer; recovering phosphorus and nitrogen. Brushite, a calcium- based phosphate, shows promise as an alternative pathway to phosphorus recovery. These successes exemplify the potential of our facilities for resource recovery. However, it is also important to note that a well-run land application program is an awesome resource recovery operation as well. Not only does the application of biosolids recover nutrients for beneficial use, the soil acts to sequester carbon resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The new opportunities for resource recovery are exciting, but we must also realize that our industry has much different priorities and constraints that the fertilizer and energy industries with which we intersect. The desire to create new products and employ new technologies must not distract from our core mission to improve water quality, enhance the water environment and protect human health. To the extent that we can recover new products from our facilities in an economical and environmentally beneficial manner- I say go for it! The coolness factor of resource recovery is a great motivator and can be an opening to get involved in the new committee opportunities in the Wisconsin Section.
Speaking of opportunities, the summer is chock full of ways to get more involved in the Wisconsin Section. CSX our Central States Section Exchange will be held at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells on July 20 and 21, all members are invited to attend and share thoughts and ideas about things that CSWEA can and should be doing- oh and there’s pizza and a waterpark. The Northwoods Collection system seminar is July 27 in Marshfield, the Management Seminar August 9 in Milwaukee and the Pre-treatment Seminar August 15 at UW Oshkosh. The Wisconsin Section Summer Board meeting is scheduled for August 10 at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee. WEFTEC is in Chicago this year- always a great opportunity for Central States to be recognized.
Stay tuned for the YP Brewer’s Game outing – possibly featuring the Crew against a certain team south of the border.
The Wisconsin Section has new leadership in several committees. Autumn Fisher takes over Membership, Paul Boersma is leading Government Affairs, Glen Tranowski is transitioning to the Spring Biosolids Symposium and Mark Mittag moves into the Watershed and Stormwater Committee. Amy Post chairs the Collection Systems committee.
As I start the year as your Chair I am honored and excited to be part of the leadership in our Wisconsin Section and look forward to seeing many of you at our events throughout the year.
Here’s to a great year,