Tag Archives: sustainability

A Cheaper Sugar for Sweet Tooth Bugs (Substitute for Acetic Acid)

Since 2001, sugar water has been used at the McDowell plant as an acetic acid substitute.

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Sugar water is produced when the soft drink manufacturers have expired or out-of-date products that they have pulled from store shelves and need to dispose of it.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.

Learn more at

Wastewater treatment plant process

Wastewater Performance Reports

16 Ideas for Indoor Water Conservation

Since 2001, water consumption for an average family of four in Mecklenburg County has gone down from 11 Ccfs (8,228 gallons) per 30-day billing cycle to 7 Ccfs (5,236 gallons) per 30-day billing cycle. We attribute this to increased water conservation measures as well as the installation of more efficient appliances and irrigation systems.

So problem solved right? Well, not exactly. We can always do more and who doesn’t like a challenge? So besides the usual stuff like not running the tap while brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers, what other ways can we conserve water? If you can’t think of any, not to worry! We’ve got you covered with ideas for your bathroom and your kitchen.

Bathroom Conservation Ideas:

  1. Update your showerheads and faucets. Water-efficient showerheads and aerators for faucets can significantly reduce the amount of water you use. In fact, installing a water-efficient showerhead is one of the most effective water-saving steps you can take inside your house. Go to the EPA’s WaterSense website for more information. 
  2. Take shorter showers. If everyone in the United States shortened their shower by one minute every day, we could save 85 billion gallons per year.
  3. Place a bucket in the shower to collect the water while it is heating up. Use the water on plants or to refill a flushing toilet.
  4. Toilets are not trash cans, only flush the toilet when necessary. This helps conserve water and helps reduce sewer overflows. 
  5. Don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  6. Fix that leak! A faucet drip of two tablespoons a minute adds up to 105 gallons a week of water wasted. Question on fixing or checking for a leak? Check out our tips on fixing at-home leaks.

Kitchen Water Conservation Ideas

  1. Cook food in as little water as possible, this also helps retain foods nutrients.
  2. Run the dishwasher only when it is full and during off-peak hours for maximum savings.
  3. Dry scrape your dishes, the dishwasher will take care of the rest
  4. Use your disposal sparingly, it wastes water and puts stress on our sewer system
  5. Don’t forget an aerator for the kitchen faucet!

Laundry Water Conservation Ideas:

  1. Use the lowest water level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads whenever possible.
  2. Use cold water as often as possible to save energy (which uses water) and conserve hot water for uses that cold water cannot serve.

General Home Ideas:

  1. Chuck the melted ice from your lunch to-go cup in a desk plant or house plant. [Not the soda, the melted ice. A little bit of sweet tea will be okay]
  2. Temporarily move houseplants outside in the rain. Water from the sky is free!
  3. Insulate hot water pipes to save energy and water. Remember water is an integral part of creating energy, and energy is necessary to treat drinking water. Conserving water conserves energy and vice versa. Check out our Energy and Water Nexus article for more information.

Have any other creative ways you conserve water? Let us know in the comments section and we will share them on Twitter.

Thanks to the Water Use It Wisely website for the tips.

Award-Winning Utility: Utility of the Future Today

We’re honored to be recognized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) as a Utility of the Future Today! This is Charlotte Water’s fifth time receiving this recognition, and we are one of 34 utilities being recognized in 2022. This program recognizes utilities that exhibit sustainability and resilience in the communities they serve.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, October 11, Charlotte Water Director Angela Charles received the award during the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) ceremony. 

“Charlotte Water’s organizational culture is one of sustainability both now and for the future, embracing innovation, inspiration, and leadership in our community,” said Charles. “We will continue to follow our Charlotte Water Vision: To be a leading water utility recognized for excellence and dedicated to our people, community, region, and environment.”

The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program seeks to reach deeply into the water sector to form and motivate a community of like-minded water utilities engaged in advancing resource efficiency and recovery, developing proactive relationships with stakeholders, and establishing resilient, sustainable, and livable communities. The Recognition Program, through the aggregation and sharing of utility advancements and experiences, will enable participants across a broad continuum of capacities and capabilities to learn from each other and continually grow and sustain their efforts to be, and continually advance the concept of, the Utility of the Future. (www.wef.org)

We are so proud of the great work our utility has accomplished this year, and we will continue our hard work to be an award-winning utility in 2023.

For more information about our awards, please visit the awards page on our website, and to learn more about WEF and the Utility of the Future Today award, visit their website here.

Charlotte Water Is The First Utility in the Region to Turn Waste Into Electricity

This year, Charlotte Water completed construction on a system at McAlpine Wastewater Treatment Plant that captures and converts methane gas (a byproduct of wastewater treatment) into a fuel for electricity production and useful heat.

Typically the bacteria used to break down organic materials during wastewater treatment creates their own waste in the form of methane. Up to 900 pounds of this waste is produced per day at McAlpine and is normally used for heating in boilers or burned off. The new facility to convert methane gas into something useful is called a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility – and Charlotte Water is the first water/wastewater utility in the state to utilize this system.

The CHP facility produces 762,480 kWh in a given month, which is enough energy to run about 846 homes.

The electricity will be added to the electric grid through a partnership with the local electric provider, Duke Energy. The excess heat will be returned to the wastewater treatment process, offsetting some of the electricity it needs to operate.

A 20-year, zero-interest loan from the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (a federal Clean Water Act program that’s been in operation since the late 1980’s) financed the project. The state allowed for no-interest financing because of the project’s positive environmental impact and renewable energy generation, which made it financially feasible for the utility. The partnership means Charlotte Water won’t have to divert any of its operations budget reserved for routine system upgrades, there will be no additional costs to water customers, and the project will pay for itself in about a decade.