Sunday, October 11, 2009

Potential for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems

This past Friday I toured the Blacksburg VPI Sanitation Authority. It was very interesting to actually see how the wastewater is treated before returning to the New River.

As of now, Blacksburg's water is pumped through various pipes to the main sewage pipe, located beneath the Drillfield, and then by gravity is transported to the plant where water is treated. Water goes through primary and secondary treatment. The secondary treatment uses microorganisms to further cleanse the water through processes including nitrification/ denitrification. Activated sludge is then separated from the water and the clear liquid is sent to the chlorine tanks before being discharged into the New River. While other plants choose to rid of their sludge by re-applying it to land for purposes such as fertilzation, the Blacksburg VPI Sanitation Authority chooses to incinerate their sludge.

The tour was the beginning of my new project where I will be looking at the differences in energy use between centralized waste water treatment versus decentralized waste water treatment and applying it to a local neighborhood/area. New developments, especially ones that are isolated from the city or area where a centralized system is applied, have potential to use decentralized systems.

If an isolated neighborhood uses a decentralized system, how much energy can be saved? If wastewater can be treated on site and be recycled/reused in the vicinity rather than traveling to a facility to be treated and placed back into a water much energy will be saved and is it a significant amount?

The local area I will be looking at is Tom's Creek Village, which serves as a good area because its relatively isolated.

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