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Gwinnett selected to study water reuse technology

Gwinnett selected to study water reuse technology

Gwinnett’s nationally recognized expertise and leadership in water and wastewater treatment has attracted research funding from the WateReuse Research Foundation.

Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with the foundation for a research project to test the feasibility and economics of using ozone/biological treatment process to produce drinking water directly from reclaimed water, compared to a more expensive reverse-osmosis process that is currently used in Texas and California. Gwinnett’s drinking water will not be impacted by the research.

Gwinnett County is the only American utility to use both ozone and biological filtration at a water reclamation facility. When Gwinnett returns highly treated wastewater back to Lake Lanier, it is nearly drinking water quality and in many ways is cleaner than the lake.

“This project will allow water utilities to evaluate water-supply options to decrease their dependence on lake or river withdrawals. High-quality reclaimed water is not subject to changes in rainfall, eutrophication, chemical spills, or algae blooms,” explained Denise Funk of the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources.

In addition to Funk, who is co-principal investigator for the project, team leaders for the small-scale, 22-month research project include Dr. Kati Bell, a national leader in water reuse and disinfection from CDM Smith in Boston; Dr. Ching-Hua Huang, a Georgia Tech professor who specializes in disinfection byproducts and advanced oxidation; and Dr. Ben Stanford of Hazen and Sawyer, who will work on identifying and controlling human health hazards. Staff from Eurofins Eaton Analytical, Inc., the largest potable water-testing lab in the U.S. and faculty from Tennessee Tech will also participate. Several of the internationally acclaimed experts who will play a key part in the study attended Tuesday’s commission meeting.

“Globally, the problem of water scarcity is growing as more people put increasing demands on limited supplies of fresh water. Locally, this project will allow water utilities to evaluate other water supply options,” said Gwinnett County Water Resources Director Ron Seibenhener.

The research project will be supported with $100,000 from the foundation and more than $900,000 in planned expenditures by the County that will include the purchase of pilot plant equipment and professional services for engineering and testing.