Emerging Trends, Technology in Water Resource Recovery

This article appeared in the January 2019 Cityscape Magazine. In keeping with the theme of emerging trends and technologies in wastewater treatment, Iowa League of Cities staff thought it appropriate to get a brief outlook from the principals at FOX Engineering where they specialize in wastewater and water treatment. The engineers below are all BCEEs: Board Certified by the American Academy of Environmental Engineering. FOX has seven of the 11 BCEEs in Iowa.  


By Keith Hobson, P.E., BCEE; President, FOX Engineering

Keith Hobson, P.E., BCEE; President Resource recovery of valuable elements in the wastewater stream is becoming more prevalent in the US. Common examples include removing nutrients and packaging them for fertilizer use, recovering heat from the waste stream for heating buildings, collecting removed particles for sand substitute, and generating renewable natural gas from the organics. This resource once termed “wastewater” after initial treatment is reused for irrigation, cooling water, recharging of groundwater, and even potable water. Hence, the term Resource Recovery Facility will be seen more often to describe wastewater treatment plants. FOX is working with Alliant Energy on a second reuse project for cooling water in Marshalltown; the first was with the Clear Lake Sanitary District.

Steve Troyer, P.E., BCEE; Vice President Nutrient reduction is a hot topic in Iowa and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. With the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, many communities must plan for and/or implement nutrient reduction at their wastewater treatment facilities. This applies to communities with an average wet weather flow of one million gallons per day or more. For communities that have not implemented nutrient reduction, IDNR will continue to require feasibility studies with each permit renewal (every 5 years). Communities with aging treatment facilities will likely be required to implement nutrient reduction as part of any major improvements or replacement project.

Steve Van Dyke, P.E., BCEE A major trend related to smaller systems is new discharge requirements, often including very low ammonia limits and a requirement to disinfect. Most small treatment systems are not capable of meeting these new discharge limits. Although there are treatment technologies available to meet these new requirements, they can be very costly for small communities to construct and operate; and solutions vary by client and conditions.

Laurie Twitchell, P.E., BCEE Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection is a popular choice for communities as it is an environmentally safe option to eliminate the use/handling of chemicals such as chlorine. UV technology for disinfection of drinking water and wastewater has been evolving over the last few decades. The latest advancements include higher wattage bulbs for low-pressure/high-output lamps, angled lamps systems, and non-contact. FOX is employing the latest in wastewater angled UV technology for the first time in Iowa in Newton.

FOX Engineering is an environmental engineering firm based in Ames, Iowa. We specialize in water and wastewater solutions for our diverse municipal and industrial clients. Our work varies in size and scope and can be found throughout the Midwest and beyond.