A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

SD1 saving on energy with management initiatives at three large wastewater treatment plants

Sanitation District No. 1 is racking up big energy savings through energy management initiatives at the utility’s three large wastewater treatment plants.

The utility created energy management plans for each of the plants in 2014, which follow the approach of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities. The plans aim to reduce energy costs by controlling and reducing energy and chemical use.

“We implemented these plans as part of our ongoing efforts to provide Northern Kentucky with outstanding wastewater services in the most efficient and effective way possible,” said John Clark, SD1 Director of Operations. “We are aggressively implementing a number of cost-saving measures, and it’s great to see this work paying off.”

SD1 has implemented energy-saving measures at each of its large wastewater treatment plants, generating savings of about $200,000 a year.

Clark, along with a team of SD1 treatment plant managers, began by assessing current energy performance at each facility and identifying areas for potential improvement. A number of innovative cost-saving measures were identified, several of which are already bearing fruit.

For example, SD1 is in the process of replacing one of three blowers at the Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Villa Hills, which treats about 28 million gallons of wastewater per day. The blower is part of the plant’s aeration system, which accounts for more than half of the facility’s energy costs. Replacing the blower is estimated to save SD1 and its ratepayers about $960,000 over the next 10 years.

Another cost-saving measure at Dry Creek was downsizing to a 40-horsepower plant water pump and motor and installing enhanced valve controls, which saves about $22,000 per year.

SD1 also negotiated a new electric rate for its Western Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Petersburg, saving about $68,000 per year over the last three years. The utility also tweaked its use of ultraviolet energy – used to treat bacteria and viruses within wastewater – for an annual savings of about $55,000.

At its Eastern Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Alexandria, SD1 has automated its aluminum sulfate feed based on real-time water readings, saving the utility another $11,000 per year in chemical costs.

Based on recommendations from a 2017 USEPA energy conservation study, SD1 also recently removed a series of small-horsepower mixers near the bottom of the Eastern Regional oxidation ditch, which were determined to be unnecessary, and slightly reduced the dissolved oxygen levels in the ditch. These steps combined for an annual savings of about $15,000.

Combined, the cost-saving measures from SD1’s Energy Management Plans amount to nearly $200,000 per year. And Clark said his team will continue to look for savings.

“Every dollar we save in energy costs or chemical costs is one less dollar we have to charge our customers,” he said. “With that in mind, we will continue to try and squeeze every dollar of savings we can from our treatment plants and other facilities. 

Sanitation District 1

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