In 2012, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of
Greater Chicago and the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (MWRD) in Denver
joined the newly formed Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) program
— a joint Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) and Water Environment
Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) initiative designed to help move
innovation into practice in the wastewater industry. LIFT helps utilities share
in conducting demonstrations of new technologies. The program affords
participating utilities a platform to directly communicate, collaborate, pool
resources, and discuss experiences in research and initiatives of common
interest. The first technology area of interest identified by LIFT members was
sidestream deammonification, and both Chicago and Denver individually had begun
to explore this technology.
At Chicago’s John
E. Egan Water Reclamation Plant, the high ammonia nitrogen load in its centrate
cannot be returned to the mainstream without compromising compliance with
permitted ammonia limits. As a result, the centrate stream is conveyed via
interceptor sewer to another facility. Nuisance odor issues have plagued
residents along this sewer line. Chicago began to investigate sidestream
nitrogen removal technologies as a means to attenuate return ammonia loads so
that centrate management could remain at the Egan facility without affecting
effluent ammonia concentrations.
Denver, which had implemented sidestream treatment strategies at its Robert W.
Hite Treatment Facility several years prior, was beginning to investigate the
potential to integrate deammonification into sidestream treatment facilities.
Denver was interested in investigating the potential benefits toward compliance
on tighter effluent ammonia and nitrogen limits, as well as improved
performance reliability of enhanced biological phosphorus removal in the main
Chicago pursued the
DEMON® technology and scheduled
pilot testing of the process on the centrate stream beginning in September
2012. The utility chose this technology because of its maturity and energy
efficiency; Chicago also intended to investigate ANITA™ Mox soon after.
Denver, on the
other hand, pursued the ANITA™ Mox technology and also scheduled pilot testing
on its centrate stream starting in September 2012. The DEMON®technology also is on Denver MWRD’s list of technologies for
evaluation. Both technologies are extremely effective at developing the
ecological niche of organisms required for deammonification, but they differ
considerably in attributes that must be considered when determining whether a
technology selection fits well with a facility and its operating culture.
Collaborating and sharing
In 2012, several
utilities discussed their interest in deammonifciation or actual demonstration
projects through the LIFT program. Both Denver and Chicago highlighted their
respective pilot studies and realized their common interest. The connection
through LIFT helped the utilities align efforts and leverage benefits from each
other’s studies. Denver and Chicago initiated recurring personal communication
and information-sharing among their respective studies and participated in one
another’s studies. Through status meetings, phone calls, and e-mail, the two
utilities were able to discuss pilot study direction and design criteria,
operational guidelines and problems, process control, infrastructure needs,
system robustness, and overall performance.
In December 2012,
to enhance technology evaluation leading toward application, Chicago co-hosted
a LIFT deammonification workshop where utilities convened to learn about
vendors of different technology approaches and to exchange information and
experiences. Chicago and Denver both shared midpoint updates of their studies.
Both Chicago and
Denver continued to share progress updates into 2013 until both studies were
completed. Both utilities now can use each other’s information to support the
basis of proceeding with deammonification and technology selection. From the
studies, both utilities were able to compare operating requirements,
reliability of performance, volumetric efficiency, and control strategies of
the two technologies.
collaborative effort on technology evaluation, Chicago is moving forward with
the design and implementation of a full-scale ANITA™ Mox process at its Egan
facility, while Denver has benefited from the efficiency of technology
evaluation with this collaborative approach.
participation in the studies, both utilities were able to reduce research costs
and stretch resources while accelerating the rate of understanding, building of
confidence, and uptake of new technologies. This joint research approach
allowed both utilities to realize the benefits of research and new technology
on an accelerated basis.
Chicago and Denver
both received WERF’s 2013 Award for Excellence in Innovation for their work on
this project, which demonstrated how LIFT can be successful.