Doing our part for a better future
From protecting public health and the environment to managing community resources responsibly and in a cost-effective manner, the District has a long-standing commitment to sustainability. We achieve this in a variety of ways; here are a few highlights of the District’s commitment to sustainability.
Wastewater contains valuable resources that can be recovered and beneficially reused.
The primary resource we recover from wastewater is biosolids for our Metrogro program. Metrogro biosolids contain organic material and nutrients that are recycled to farmland as a valuable fertilizer that supports local agriculture. Before any land application takes place, Metrogro biosolids undergo treatment to control pathogens such as bacteria and other organisms capable of transporting disease.
The District is in the early phases of a long-term study to examine additional uses and potential alternatives for biosolids to better leverage this valuable resource.
In addition to biosolids, the District harvests struvite from wastewater, and was one of the first wastewater utilities to adopt a struvite harvesting process called Ostara. This process recovers nutrients from the wastewater, including nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium, and turns them into a valuable fertilizer product known as struvite.
Struvite can be a nuisance for wastewater treatment plants, as it can form problematic deposits in pipes, tanks and other equipment. But as a form of phosphorus, it’s also a valuable resource.
Phosphorus is a critical element necessary for plant and human life, and globally, the supply of phosphorus can’t keep up with demand. Recovering even a small portion of this nutrient from wastewater for reuse is beneficial.
Currently, the District generates over 30% of its energy demands through the production of methane gas in the wastewater treatment process. This is a long-term, stable, renewable energy source.
The District is committed to identifying and implementing additional ways it can reduce its energy footprint and is working on an Energy Management Master Plan. This plan will take a comprehensive look at how energy is currently used at the treatment plant and provide recommendations for how the District should use energy in the future.
This plan will be completed in 2021.
The Envision™ sustainable infrastructure rating system provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects. It evaluates, grades and gives recognition to infrastructure projects that use transformational, collaborative approaches to assess the sustainability indicators over the course of the project’s life cycle.
A number of District staff members are certified in the Envision™ process. This process helps us support sustainability by:
- Assessing costs and benefits over the project lifecycle
- Evaluating environmental benefits
- Using outcome-based objectives
- Reaching higher levels of sustainability achievement
Maintenance Facility LEED certification
In 2016, the District unveiled its new Maintenance Facility with a Platinum-level LEED certification. It is the first building on campus to be LEED-certified.
The Maintenance Facility was constructed in 2015 to provide more space and better working conditions for our Operations and Maintenance department. It was a priority for the design and construction of the building to incorporate green and sustainable features. To see some of the LEED features that earned this building Platinum-level certification, check out our LEED Platinum virtual tour.