Water You Think About Reuse?

Water You Think About Reuse?

wh-1Emory University has an on-site water recycling system unlike any other in the nation. Emory’s WaterHub uses sustainable technology which mimics natural processes to clean wastewater for non-potable uses such as heating and cooling, irrigation, and toilet flushing. Team Water from the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office took a trip to Atlanta, GA for a sneak peak of the Hub’s inner-workings. Let’s dive in to the details!

Wastewater Source

The water treated at the WaterHub is diverted from an on-campus sewer pipe to the greenhouse portion of the water reclamation site. The water gets screened to remove any non-bio-degradables then goes through additional cleaning processes.

Hydroponic Treatment System

wh-4A variety of low-maintenance tropical plants are featured in the greenhouse. Their dense root systems are submerged in the wastewater and provide excellent habitat for waste-treating microorganisms to thrive. Microorganisms play a huge role in reclaiming wastewater; by consuming excess nutrients, they biologically purify the water. It is extremely important to maintain an environment that is beneficial to the microorganisms so they can break down pollutants in the water. In addition to clinging onto plant roots, microorganisms benefit from the added surface area of a BioWeb textile media (shown to the left) and honeycomb-shaped plastic pellets that move freely in the water as biofilm carriers. Microorganisms work efficiently to break down organic waste when given appropriate living conditions.

Reciprocating Wetland Technologywh-5

Tidal marsh ecosystems are mimicked at the WaterHub to provide alternating anoxic and aerobic treatment conditions. Wastewater is filled and drained in adjacent bio-cells that contain gravel. The gravel serves as microorganism habitat during this stage. The recurrent fill-and-drain sequence allows control of microbial processes.

Clarifying, Filtering, & Disinfecting

After the microorganisms complete their part of the treatment, the nearly-clean water flows to a clarifier tank and disk filter where any remaining solids, nutrients, and color are removed from the water. Some microorganisms are taken from the clarifier tank and relocated to the beginning of treatment where they repeat the process of breaking down bio solids and sludge. Once the water flows over the disk filters, only trace amounts of microorganisms remain. Ultraviolet disinfection disrupts the DNA of remaining microorganisms, making the water safe to use for non-potable demands. The ready-to-use water is delivered through a series of purple pipes to differentiate the supply from wastewater and drinking water.

Recycling Water Is A No-Brainer!

Custom, satellite wastewater reclamation facilities like the Emory WaterHub are efficient and cost-effective. Water naturally recycles in the environment, but why not extend the life cycle of water even further like the WaterHub does? On-site water reclamation reduces withdrawals from sensitive ecosystems and eliminates a significant portion of the water distribution system, thus reducing a community’s carbon and water footprints.

Let’s get on board with sustainable water reuse and make a greater effort to use water wisely! For more information about the WaterHub and Sustainable Water, visit here.

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Today’s blog was written by Emily Bilcik, Graduate Assistant at the WCO.

Conservation: Music to Our Ears

This week’s post was written by Caroline Cummings, WCO Intern and music junkie. 

Living in Athens, we are lucky enough to experience firsthand some of the best music in the country. Whether it’s nationally acclaimed rock legends like R.E.M., local college kids that like Chinese food (hint: the B-52s), or the street performers that can turn anything, including buckets, into instruments, there’s no denying that the people of Athens know their music. Assuming you at least listen to, like, or maybe even LOVE music like I do, music festivals seem like the ideal place to make our dreams come true; it is important, however, that we are aware of the impact our beloved music festivals have on our environment, especially our water.

It’s no surprise that thousands of people gathered into one venue produces waste, uses water, and leaves behind a nasty carbon footprint. What is pleasantly surprising, however, is the initiative many festivals are taking to reduce their waste production and water consumption, as well as promote sustainability in the lives of their attendees. With the recent release of many festival lineups, ‘tis the season to make travel arrangements and purchase tickets to see your favorite bands. Lucky for us, there are festivals all over the country covering all genres that are determined to make a positive impact on our water conservation and sustainability efforts.

1. Tortuga Music Festival, April 15-17, 2016

rtoLocated in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, TortugaFest is one of the most environmentally conscious festivals of its kind. With a mostly country, rock, and roots lineup and headliners such as Blake Shelton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tim McGraw, Tortuga Fest has attracted like-minded fans from across the country to enjoy a weekend at the beach. Aside from guaranteeing proper waste disposal with the help of the Clean Vibes organization, Tortuga puts an emphasis on water conservation and protection. Portions of ticket purchases are donated to Rock the Ocean, an organization consisting of 30+ groups that promote conservation of our oceans through interactive activities, events, and educational programs such as funding field trips to local waterways for low-income students. Rock the Ocean’s presence at the festival is almost as big as the bands playing there; they set up an entire “Conservation Village” within the festival grounds. Here, festival-goers can learn ways to conserve water, reduce pollution in the oceans, and even win a chance to meet one of the headliners of the festival. The goal of Conservation Village, best stated by the festival itself, is to “allow fans to leave the festival with an ‘awakened consciousness’ of the issues our oceans and marine environments are facing, and most importantly, what they, the fans, can do to make a difference!” Who doesn’t love an awakened conscience?

http://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/conservation/

2. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June 9-12, 2016

Named for the French words “bonne” and “rue,” meaning “good” and “street,” respectively, Bonnaroo, located in Manchester, Tennessee, is considered the “best on the streets” by many festival-goers. While it’s hard to beat seeing artists such as Pearl Jam, Tame Impala, Dead & Company, plus ~100 more musicians and comedians, many other large festivals also can’t hold a candle to Bonnaroo’s sustainability efforts. By partnering up with Rock the Earth and Carbon Shredders, Bonnaroo teaches its attendees the basics of conservation of natural resources and leading a more sustainable life, including reducing water consumption. Paired up with Carbon Shredders is We Are Neutral, an organization that works with large-scale events to reduce their large-scale energy and water usage, which has made Bonnaroo one of the greenest festivals in the world. The festival also teams up with Clean Vibes to ensure proper waste disposal to divert from landfills and prevent pollution. Similar to our office’s Certified Blue program, Bonnaroo also implements aBroo15_News_Post_Sust “Sustainable Vendors” badge of honor.  Vendors that are labeled with this badge use locally grown products and make conscious efforts to decrease their waste production and resource consumption. If the Certified Blue-like program at ‘Roo isn’t enough to draw you away from Athens for a couple days (which it should be!), consider going to see some of our very own local bands perform at this festival. Past lineups have included Athens bands Drive-by Truckers, Neutral Milk Hotel, Futurebirds, Reptar, and Radiolucent.

http://www.bonnaroo.com/get-involved/sustainability

3. Rock the Green Music Festival, September 17, 2016

A music festival completely built on sustainability, Rock the Green has definitely lived up to its name. Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this festival has featured nationally recognized artists like Third Eye Blind, Ben Folds, and Atlas Genius. Alongside these well-known performances, Rock the Green also hosts and promotes many local artists, a notion we Athenians embrace. Although the 2016 lineup has yet to be released, it’s safe to say this festival will not disappoint musically or conservationally. Rock the Green 2016 will be located at a new venue in Milwaukee’s Reed Street Yards, an eco-industrial park located on Freshwater Way. When not in use for the festival, the park focuses on Milwaukee’s growing water industry and the technologies that help ensure water is both abundant and clean. Due to the new venue, Rock the Green 2016 will also feature another welcome change: a focus on water conservation. Along with creating near-zero waste, Rock the Green is working with the 15222879439_09af23833b_bMilwaukee Water Council to promote freshwater sustainability at the festival using Reed Street Yards’s research and initiatives as a basis. Rock the Green’s mission statement perfectly sums up what this festival is all about: “to educate and empower the community to take actionable steps to live sustainably.”

http://www.rockthegreen.com/rock-the-green-festival-returns-september-17th-2016

4. Lightning in a Bottle, May 25-30, 2016

Last on our list but certainly not least is the festival Lightning in a Bottle, which will take place in Bradley, California this Memorial Day weekend. Described as “a fourth dimension where only the weird and wonderful flourish,” Lightning in a Bottle is a conglomeration of music, yoga, art, education, and sustainability. This summer it will host artists such as Chet Faker, Grimes, and Jamie XX. Of course here at the ACC Water Conservation Office, we like to focus on the sustainability aspect, and this festival does not disappoint. With an atmosphere dedicated to community, Lightning in a Bottle makes sure to keep the community surrounding the festival clean, happy, and sustainable. The festival has put in place several water initiatives that promote conservation, including an on-site environmental impact assessment and educational signs to encourage reduction in water use. The impact assessment lets festival staff and attendees rest assured that no waste from the festival negatively impacts nearby Lake San Antonio while the signs within the festival grounds educate attendees on things such as the benefits of low-flow toilets, water fountains, and shower taps. They also make use of the festival’s grey water by spraying it on the grounds to prevent dust and air pollution. Aside from all the amazing water initiatives the festival has implemented, they also do their part to reduce festival energy costs and create a net-zero energy usage through carbon offsets. The main goal of what they callethos “Ethos” (their green initiative) at Lightning in a Bottle is “… to change lives. We want people to not only be inspired at the festival, but to leave and make a big difference at home in their communities.”

http://2015.lightninginabottle.org/ethos/

From home- If you’re unable to make it to any of these festivals this year, there is another awesome way music can help you conserve water from home. Try picking out a favorite song to play in the shower and use it as a timer to take quicker showers and save more water, but don’t forget to sing along!