McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of the most technologically advanced in removing nutrients and enhancing downstream water quality. Sustainable innovations are nothing new to operators. Since 2001, sugar water has been used at the McDowell plant as an acetic acid substitute. It’s a win-win for Charlotte Water and local businesses when both save money by reusing a waste product.
Sugar water is produced when the soft drink manufacturers have expired or out-of-date products that they have pulled from store shelves and need to dispose of it. It is also produced when the manufacturers make a bad batch of cola and/or need to wash down the processing equipment. This sugar water is used as an organic carbon food source for microorganisms (bugs) that remove phosphorous and nitrogen during the wastewater treatment process. Because McDowell’s effluent discharges into a nutrient-sensitive creek, operators use advanced treatment techniques to also remove nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorous from water.
The sugar water is a safe, cheap alternative that significantly reduces the use of acetic acid in the treatment process, reducing resource consumption and making use of waste that would otherwise need to be disposed of. The soft drink manufacturer gives it to CLTWater for free and CLTWater pays for the shipping. The process saves ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
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