The Minoa Village Board last week unanimously moved to apply for a $607,000 grant to work more green technologies into its Cleanwater, Educational and Research Facility. The goal is to become 100 percent energy sustainable at both the plant and the Department of Public Works. The village is collaborating with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Donovan said two main components to the project are using constructed wetlands (artificial marsh or swamp) and an anaerobic digester (a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material). The new technology is already removing pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen and estrogen from water, a huge benefit to the health of both people and wildlife.
Additionally, the project on the whole uses compost reactors, it produces fertilizer, electricity and heat, grows crops and as stated above, now discharges clean water into nearby Limestone Creek.
Wastewater treatment now relies more on mechanical aeration, a high consumptive power. In comparison, by using an anaerobic digester to recover methane, it is hoped that the gas will produce a substantial amount of power normally used to drive the overall facility. End results include sustainability and cost-reduction to the village and its taxpayers.
"The whole wetlands facility out here is completely green - there's no power whatsoever, it's gravity-fed," said Minoa Mayor Dick Donovan, adding that the village is the first local municipality to make this transition. "The things we're doing here, as far as we're aware, are the first anywhere, in terms of what we've been able to do with the wetlands. We're not aware of anybody that's been able to extract pharmaceuticals from the water."
The project is a demonstration of what other communities may be able to do going forward. The byproduct will be biodegradable, sustainable and stable material. The biowaste can then be returned to the system to generate power and or create a Grade A solid to be spread on farmer's fields, Donovan said. In the current wastewater treatment arrangement, this advancement is nonexistent.
"Digesters, wetlands are old technology," he added. "We've come up with ways to reconfigure those old technologies to make them work in today's world, inexpensively."