New wastewater project to extract pharmaceuticals
As of today, the village of Minoa has 200 tons of biowaste that gets sent to a landfill.
That number, said Mayor Dick Donovan, will be reduced to practically nothing once its new, innovative "green" waste water project is fully up and running. The goal is to become sustainable in terms of energy for the Department of Public Works and the Wastewater Treatment Facility. The Wastewater Treatment Facility may potentially be renamed the Cleanwater, Educational and Research Facility to better describe what the facility function will be.
Last week, the mayor took representatives of SUNY ESF and former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, who now heads the state's Environmental Facilities Corporation, on a tour through Minoa's wastewater treatment facility.
Donovan said two main components of the new project are using constructed wetlands (artificial marsh or swamp) and an anaerobic digester (a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material).
Ultimately, the new technology will deal with removing pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen from the wastewater -- a huge benefit to the health of both people and wildlife.
"I think this is fantastic," said Neil Murphy, president of SUNY ESF. "The mayor has fantastic insights.
The focus of making it greener, the focus of making it less energy-dependent, reducing the costs to the residents and still improving the quality of the wastewater that's treated -- I think that's incredible."
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 wastewater treatment facility. End results include sustainability and cost-reduction to the village.
"The whole wetlands facility out here is completely green -- there's no power whatsoever, it's gravity-fed," said Donovan, adding that Minoa 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."
Murphy said he believes this project is a demonstration of what other communities are able to do if they have the insight, foresight and creativity.
"The byproduct in the future will be biodegradable -- it will be sustainable, stable material," Murphy said.
And the biowaste can then be returned to the system to generate power and/or create a grade A solid to be spread on farmers' fields, Donovan said. In the current wastewater treatment arrangement, this advancement is nonexistent.