“We have to remove the ammonia, but it still has more nitrogen than potable water, and that’s part of the process they need at the compost facility,” Komiske said.
Using water reclaimed from the city’s wastewater treatment facility is not a new practice. The city uses treated effluent for in-house, non-drinking maintenance needs at the wastewater treatment plant, saving around 13 million gallons of drinking water per month.
In addition, the University of Oklahoma uses treated effluent to irrigate portions of the golf course. That reused water is also sourced from treated city wastewater.
Guidelines established by the DEQ only allow for the reuse on fairways, which required an extra irrigation system, but the university made that investment. That investment is financially sound because of the cost savings involved in using treated effluent rather than watering fairways with drinking water.
The DEQ was expected to discuss the reuse at Norman’s compost facility at its meeting this week but did not have time to get to the item. A decision to move the process forward could come as early as next week. The DEQ will ensure the public is protected in its reuse guidelines.
The water used at the compost facility is not like a yard irrigation system. It comes out of a water gun.
“When they use water, they use a lot of it at once,” Komiske said. “We can set these (water guns) to go at night. We can lock the gates, so there’s no one around.”
Reclaiming wastewater for appropriate uses is the wave of the future. Once upon a time, cities had sewer treatment plants. Those morphed into pollution control facilities, then wastewater treatment plants, and now are called water reclamation facilities.
Part of the renaming is a result of higher standards of treatment available through modern technology. The renaming is part of a new perception.