Environmental Protection

Tempe, Ariz., Expands Reclamation Plant Capacity

GE Water, a business unit of GE Energy, has recognized the city of Tempe, Ariz. with an ecomagination leadership award. The city has expanded its water reclamation program, resulting in the reuse of an additional 2.5 billion gallons a year of water for commercial and industrial applications.

Tempe’s Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) recently added GE’s ZeeWeed Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology to improve water reuse. The facility’s capacity has been doubled to 9 million gallons of water a day, with a peak flow of 11.7 million gallons, making it one of the largest MBR plants in North America.

“We’re working to create the opportunity for water reuse in our community like never before,” said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.

The Kyrene facility plays a critical role in the city’s long-term water management strategy. High-quality, treated wastewater is used for non-potable applications such as cooling at a major power plant and irrigation at a municipal golf course. The city also injects the reclaimed water into local aquifers, earning aquifer storage credits that can be used to access additional water supplies during times of drought.

Tempe Town Lake, the city’s artificial recreational waterbody also may benefit from reclaimed water. The city has proposed to use its aquifer as a virtual pipeline to refill the lake, which loses up to 2 million gallons of water per day to evaporation. Reclaimed water can be injected into the aquifer in one area, and then withdrawn at another, to refill the lake.

“We have to make use of every water resource that we possibly can,” said Don Hawkes, Tempe’s water utilities manager. “The GE ZeeWeed membranes provide the flexibility to take the waste water that is generated by all of the people who live here and turn it into a commodity that is marketable and usable.”

“This outstanding project is an example of a growing trend to turn wastewater into a valuable new resource, particularly in areas like the American Southwest where water supplies are severely limited,” said Yuvbir Singh, GE Water’s general manager for the ultrafiltration, MBR, and ABMet product lines. “[This] technology enabled Tempe to double its water recycling capabilities without expanding plant footprint. Most people in the densely populated city don’t even know the plant is there, thanks to its compact design and quiet, low-odor operation.”

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