Wastewater Treatment Reaches Energy Net Zero in Oregon

Imagine a wastewater treatment plant that consumes more waste than it does energy and leaves an excess that equals half a million dollars in savings for its citizens. Such a place does exist and carries the designation Energy Net Zero. One place in particular is Grisham, Oregon.

Through above par water resources engineering, the plant does even more than that. It also recycles its fats, oils and grease which are transported to local establishments. And, they get tipped for it generously, increasing the pool of available monetary resources for future development. All those savings go into making the plant the most resourceful wastewater treatment plant possible.

Fortunately, like with most wastewater treatment plants, the sludge that forms from settled particles in the water can be converted to a biogas. The biogas produced from wastewater treatment is then fed into two cogeneration engines that generate heat and electricity – not only sustaining its own operations, but supplementing the city’s needs as well. Treating 13 million gallons of wastewater each day, the plant meets the water needs of 114,000 customers.

The concept of Energy Net Zero is the goal of any environmentally-conscious water resource engineer. While Oregon is the not the first to generate electricity in excess of its wastewater treatment in America, it is the first in the growing Pacific Northwest. It is worthy of celebration and recognition because it is a step in the right direction for a self-sustainable society.

Zero net energy is also common in the corporate world where companies like Melaleuca, devoted to natural health, maintain buildings that produce more electricity than they use. This is considered renewable energy that reduces the carbon footprint of any corporation that embarks upon this noble mission.

Achieving net zero energy consumption has been proven to be possible now and sets a true precedent for wastewater treatment plants across the nation. New York City boasts such a plant with the goal of net zero by the year 2050. More cities are in the process of adopting similar plans.

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