Wastewater solutions for sole source aquifer island region

Wastewater solutions for sole source aquifer island region
Southampton-based Evergreen Wastewater Treatment Systems installed the Global Water wastewater recycling test system at Sag Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Photo by Michael Heller)

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Officials in Suffolk County, N.Y., in conjunction with the Town of Southampton, are monitoring a study at the Sag Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant to gather data on the Global Water wastewater recycling test system.

Seventy percent of the county’s 1.5 million residents rely on septic systems, and so does the central business district. Since it draws from a single aquifer, the island region has stricter regulations from the U.S. EPA on drinking water protection and groundwater dispersal. With sewer systems reaching only one-third of homes, development is inhibited. The county struggles to keep up with growth, and officials believe the Global Water system may provide an environmentally friendly wastewater solution.

“The county is looking at ideas to possibly expand its commercial area or residential areas with small treatment plants,” says Dee Yardley, Sag Harbor superintendent of public works. “This is a small module of what a bigger system could be like.”

Doug Futterman of Evergreen Wastewater Treatment Systems in Southampton installed the test system at the treatment plant. “I’m having an independent engineering firm evaluate it, take their tests and data, and present a report,” he says. “At the same time the county is going to have its people come out and test it.”

The truck-mounted demo unit processes 7,500 gpd of Sag Harbor wastewater plant influent. A mobile generator supplies its power.

“Their raw sewage is our source influent,” says Futterman. “We’re just taking their influent and running it through the system. Then out comes water that we put back into their system to run through the course.”

The ‘green’ wastewater system uses accelerated extended aeration, along with proprietary recycling and water-purification methods, says Futterman. Five operations create a process that eliminates sludge and produces high-quality effluent. The Global Water system is similar to a basic extended aeration/activated sludge wastewater treatment system. According to the manufacturer’s website, the operation stages are:

  • Bar screening
  • Aeration: The aeration chamber provides a 12-hour retention time for daily-average flow.
  • Clarification and settling: Displaced liquid from the aeration chamber flows around a baffle and through a clarifier. Clear liquid is displaced over a weir into a holding tank for the recycling process. Any floating material in the liquid is contained by the baffle and drawn into a skimmer return line and discharged back to the aeration chamber.
  • Recycling of suspended solids: Effluent placed in a holding tank for input into the recycling process contains suspended solids and high E. coli. A filtration process separates and collects all suspended solids (TSS). An automated process pulls from the clarified holding tank. The recycler collects all TSS down to 10 microns for backwashing discharge. The discharge is piped back to the aeration chamber. A backflush tank is automatically refilled after each backflush.
  • Water purification: Effluent cleaned of all suspended solids down to 10 microns flows through a 5-micron filtration process and then a 1-micron filtration process to remove all parasites. Effluent goes through a multimedia adsorption and absorption formulation to remove hazardous chemicals. Effluent then passes through UV disinfection.

According to Futterman, effluent meets or exceeds all World Health Organization, U.S. EPA, ANSI/NSF Standard 53 and International EPA standards for potable water. The system would allow Suffolk County to discharge better quality effluent back into the ground.

“The effluent would be discharged into onsite leaching pools (cesspools),” says Walter Hilbert, Suffolk County public health engineer. “If they show they can meet the effluent quality of 10 mg/L or less of total Nitrogen, it’s allowed to be recharged through onsite leaching pools.”

Previous testing using effluent input of 30 mg/L total N resulted in effluent output levels of 3 mg/L or less, says Futterman. Of the county’s almost 200 wastewater treatment plants, about 170 are groundwater recharge.

“In some of these small downtown areas where they want to increase restaurants and apartments over stores, which is good, we have to make sure we don’t put so much back in the bucket that we’re going to affect groundwater quality,” says Hilbert.

Results from the pilot study will give county officials the information they need to add the Global Water system to a list of approved systems for wastewater treatment. Also on this list are systems and processes from Cromaglass, BESTechnologies and Nitrex (Lombardo Associates).

“Being an island, we’re pretty much tapped out,” says Hilbert. “There’s not a lot of vacant land, so we really have to go back and start redeveloping and reusing because our density restrictions are really limited without providing for advanced treatment.”

In addition to offering another wastewater treatment option, the Global Water system could be an ongoing revenue stream for the municipality. “Landowners and businesses that directly benefit from the system would be able to pay for it so they wouldn’t have to raise taxes,” says Futterman.

“Because you have an effluent you can reuse, you’re going to charge the businesses and properties a fee to hook up and a fee to maintain, and you’re essentially also going to charge them for the water that you’re cleaning up for them and giving back.”

Reusable effluent and an additional wastewater treatment opportunity would be the steps to start improving the island district’s development.


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