Water Efficiency May 2012 : Page 40
ture projects, but money is difficult to come by,” postulates LeBrun. “The cost of infrastructure is not going down. The service model is a better fix. The return on investment is 12 to 18 months, depending on the level of treatment and size.” Once cities embark on reuse, they find more uses than expected, Simon process fills and drains cells like a tide, but at an accelerated rate, with 12–16 tides per day. When the cells drain, ox-ygen comes in by gravity. More surface area allows diversity of organisms. The Living Machine requires less energy than any other water reuse technology, yet meets the highest quality standards, including California “Discharge limits are more stringent on wastewater than drinking water. Treating it to an extra level doesn’t cost a lot more; the incremental cost is lower than having to replenish water. Reuse makes economic sense, is sustainable, and is our future.” says, making the investment even more favorable. Due to rising costs and decreasing availability of water, LeBrun believes the future is “regionally driven”. “The driving principle is water reuse,” he says, “but it’s not just a technology-driven business any more. The service model provides conve-nience beyond the hardware.” GREEN—AND GROWING Perhaps the most aesthetically pleas-ing technology is the Living Machine system. The low-energy, totally green ecological wastewater treatment and reuse technology for black and grey water mimics a tidal wetland, accelerat-ing its plant and microbial activity with advanced environmental engineering. “It’s a turbocharged wetlands,” explains Will Kirksey, P.E., global development officer at Living Machine Systems. “There are no chemicals in the process.” The patented tidal flow wetland 40 WATER EFFICIENCY WWW.WATEREFFICIENCY.NET Title 22 reuse standards. Capable of being scaled to almost any level, from several thousand gallons to a million gallons per day, it can be a standalone unit or operate as part of a larger water treatment network. Because it has a smaller footprint and shorter treat-ment time than other wetland treat-ment systems, it’s versatile, and be-cause it is aesthetically pleasing, it can be located in building lobbies, housing developments, or the countryside. The Port of Portland features a Living Machine in its 205,000-square-foot headquarters to treat 100% of the building’s wastewater for reuse in the toilets and cooling tower. The sys-tem, which looks like a lush tropical planter in the lobby, was credited with contributing to the Port’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest LEED rating. Bamboo, switch grass, and flow-ers can be grown in the wetland. The treated water can be used on food crops. Kirksey mentions one used in an agricultural field in Hawaii. “The treated wastewater is used to grow Bird of Paradise flowers, and the treated water is used to water sugar cane,” he says. Another project will treat sewer water to irrigate the landscaping at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego. “Sewer mining,” extract-ing wastewater from an existing sewer line, and recycling the black water for sub-surface irrigation and equipment washing, will minimize water usage on the base in drought-prone San Diego. The onsite system will recycle 10,000 gallons of sewer-mined wastewater per day, treating it to water reuse stan-dards in California. Similarly, a showcase project is under construction at the San Fran-cisco Public Utilities Commission. The regulatory body incorporated a Living Machine to demonstrate its viability in the hopes of encouraging others to decentralize.
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