The University of Connecticut (UConn) is consistently ranked as one of the greenest schools in the country. Among its many environmental sustainability initiatives, UConn is working to reduce water use on campus and improve the quality of the nearby river ecosystems, but there remains significant and growing demand. The solution was to design a sustainable reclaimed water facility (RWF) that would reduce its need to draw on local sources, provide a resource for meeting increased future demand, and preserve natural resources. UConn selected Woodard & Curran to provide contract operation and maintenance of their new RWF at the Storrs campus based on the firm’s expertise in operating innovative industrial and irrigation water reuse systems.
CONTRACT OPERATIONS, PROCESS EVALUATION, AND SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS
The RWF receives effluent from the University’s Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) and treats it through a tertiary process that includes screening, microfiltration, and UV disinfection. The non-potable water is used at the Storrs campus Central Utility Plant (CUP) for use in its cooling tower, chilled water system, and (with some additional treatment) high-pressure boilers. Some water is lost to evaporation, but a significant portion of the used water returns to the UConn WPCF for retreatment. The University also hired Woodard & Curran to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the WPCF as well as design and implement additional engineering solutions at the WPCF and RWF.
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF RECYCLING WASTEWATER
Woodard & Curran’s goal as operators of the RWF is to utilize system data to effectively reduce chemical use, manage power resources, and perform preventive maintenance and mechanical improvements. These measures reduce operating costs and enhance sustainability. Reclaiming effluent from the WPCF reduces the amount of treated wastewater discharged to the Willimantic River and substantially reduces the University’s potable water demand. Woodard & Curran also provides the University with environmental compliance support to enable the use of reclaimed water for irrigating athletic and recreational fields. As an institution of higher education, the University’s RWF provides a unique opportunity for public outreach, and Woodard & Curran’s RWF staff have made significant efforts to create a useful learning environment at the facility.