WALNUT CREEK, Calif. —  May 22, 2014 — Brown and Caldwell was recently honored by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists as it recognized winners of the 2014 Excellence in Environmental Engineering Awards during a luncheon in Washington, D.C.

Brown and Caldwell received the Honor Award for Research for the EchoWater Advanced Treatment Technology Pilot (ATTP) project. Click here for a list of all the 2014 award winners.

Brown and Caldwell led the fast-track design-build-operate installation of a biological nutrient removal (BNR) pilot facility located in Elk Grove, Calif. The ATTP project is providing critical information for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District's (Regional San) EchoWater Project, a $2 billion upgrade of the District's 181 mgd regional wastewater facility that serves 1.4 million customers.

Faced with state mandates that it must construct and operate new treatment processes by 2021, Regional San launched its EchoWater Project. The more significant permit stipulations include the lowest maximum day permit discharge limits for ammonia, as well as nitrate and Title 22 or equivalent reclaimed water treatment standards, and requiring filtration and enhanced disinfection processes.

To confirm that the stringent permit requirements were achievable, an 11-month pilot study was conducted, demonstrating that these limits could be met with an air activated sludge BNR process. Regional San commissioned BC to design, construct and operate an advanced wastewater treatment pilot plant to evaluate the efficacy of new technologies from engineering and operations perspectives.

During the comprehensive technology screening process, all options were on the table. Alternatives considered included keeping the high-purity oxygen activated sludge (HPOAS) system and achieving nitrogen removal in subsequent processes, as well as bioaugmentation of the HPOAS process. Suspended growth and fixed film process alternatives also were weighed.

During the 11-month operations phase, a team of BC and Regional San operators varied loading rates, chemical feeds and control systems, testing the ability of the processes to meet the future, stringent discharge requirements, while simulating full-scale operating conditions for the upgraded facility. BC employed a full SCADA system, online instrumentation and on-site and off-site laboratories to collect performance data for analyses. Because the pilot project is on the critical path to meeting the deadline for permit compliance, fast-track and high-quality performance by BC and Regional San staff has been instrumental in keeping the full-scale upgrade on schedule.

This pilot plant is providing crucial data for the District's 10-year implementation program for upgraded treatment facilities that ultimately will serve 1.4 million customers. The enhancement and innovations tested in the pilot allowed Regional San to save an estimated $150 million for the permit-required updates that will translate into significantly reduced homeowner rate increases. The BC team works closely with the Program Management for the EchoWater Project (consisting of District staff and the joint venture of BC/HDR) which leads a team of consultants responsible for implementing plant upgrades.

Media contact

Cameron McWilliam | 303.968.2055 |