Operator Applies Water Reuse Filters to Wastewater Plant

Arizona American Water Senior Plant Operator John Lulewicz and his coworkers found a new way to reduce excessive water consumption and costs by more than 50 percent.

According to a recent press release, the operations team used the Watts Big Bubba water reuse filters for internal industrial use at the wastewater treatment plant at the Northwest Valley Reclamation facility that serves customers in Sun City West, Peoria, and north Phoenix.

"What's really extraordinary about this is the instant savings achieved in terms of water use and operational expenses," said Brad Cole, director of Operations in the West Valley for Arizona American Water.

Lulewicz came up with a plan to reuse water from the facility's 1.2 million gallon equalization basin by converting a water filter intended for a normal drinking water treatment plant to be used at the wastewater treatment plant. To meet the timeframe and be cost effective, all work was done by in-house staff. Expenses for water have dropped from $5,000-7,000 a month to $1,500 during the summer and $800 in the winter months. The treatment plant now saves more than 10 million gallons of water a year.

The manufacturing company has contacted Arizona American Water to learn how they applied drinking water technology in a wastewater treatment plant. Arizona American Water will be adding a third bank of Watts Big Bubba filters to the process, which will increase production and the ability to reuse the water in other areas at the plant. Once these areas are put into service, the water usage savings is estimated to be at least 12 million gallons of drinking water a year.

One of the unanticipated savings of the project was the elimination of the need to soften the water. Now that the wastewater treatment plant is reusing nonpotable (wastewater) water in the treatment process, the need to soften the previously supplied potable (drinking) well water is eliminated. As a result, the bank of water softeners at the facility is offline and is providing additional savings on maintenance and chemicals expenses, nearly $1,000 per month.