Municipal wastewater treatment systems in the U.S. consume a total of approximately 30 billion kWh annually, and their operations are typically the largest energy users in a community. Individual wastewater facilities currently consume about five times more energy than is needed to treat their water flow, with that energy use expected to increase by up to 20% in the future due to more stringent water quality standards and growing water demand based on population growth. Reducing energy usage in these facilities can yield significant environmental, economic, and social benefits for local communities.
In recent years a growing number of utilities responsible for clean water have been moving from only wastewater treatment to water resource management, some formally renaming themselves water resource recovery facilities. Energy efficiency in equipment, processes, and operations is a fundamental part of this transition, and energy savings in facility retrofits can reach 50%. Facilities can expand this energy-efficient foundation with resource recovery measures to move closer to a sustainable wastewater infrastructure.
Tools and Resources
Various tools and resources are being evaluated that can help water and wastewater agencies monitor and improve their energy performance. In January of 2022, the Advanced Manufacturing Office worked with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to create the following tipsheets for Wastewater Treatment Agencies. Additionally, the AMO CHP team developed a Market Sector Fact Sheet specifically for wastewater treatment plants.
Discover resources and innovative, replicable wastewater solutions developed by DOE and Better Plants Challenge partners
Wastewater Energy Management Toolkit
Explore a collection of resources that enables water resource recovery facilities to learn and benefit from the work of DOE's Better Buildings Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future (SWIFt) Accelerator. Toolkit resources support best practices and innovative approaches successfully used by wastewater facilities to establish and implement energy management and planning.
Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority: Omnivore Co-Digestion and Recuperative Thickener
Beginning in 2008, Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) began planning plant optimization and expansion for its facility to comply with new regulatory limits and increase capacity.