WALNUT CREEK, Calif., October 2, 2014 — Brown and Caldwell and the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) accepted the Award for Excellence in Innovation from the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) this week at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in New Orleans.

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

Research results from five WERF-funded projects have been used directly in the development of the EchoWater ATTP project. Those projects included:

  • Nutrient Management Volume II: Removal Technology Performance & Reliability, NUTR1R06k
  • Methods for Wastewater Characterization in Activated Sludge Modeling, 99-WWF-3
  • WERF/CRTC Protocols for Evaluating Secondary Clarifier Performance, 00-CTS-1
  • Trace Organic Compound Indicator Removal During Conventional Wastewater Treatment, CEC4R08
  • Holistic Assessment of Trace Organic Compounds in Wastewater Treatment, U3R11

Faced with state mandates that it must construct and operate new treatment processes by 2021, the District 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.
According to Vick Kyotani, EchoWater Program Manager, the aggressive time-frame the team had to work with was a major driver. “The schedule constraints limited the alternatives we could consider to proven, mature technologies because there was no time to explore and test emerging nutrient removal technologies, such as shortcut nitrogen removal,” he says. “Viable alternatives had to be proven at large plants, be cost-effective, and be adaptable to meet anticipated future regulatory requirements.”

During the District’s comprehensive technology screening process, all options were on the table. Alternatives considered included keeping the high-purity oxygen activated sludge 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.

“In the end, the primary drivers of mature technology at large plants, cost-effectiveness and adaptability to anticipated future treatment requirements drove the decision to select the air-activated sludge, BNR process,” Kyotani says. In addition, he added, the new treatment processes will produce water that is reuse quality, which fits in nicely with the District’s water management plans.
SRCSD recognized the value of piloting and included it within its 10-year plan for BNR implementation. A pilot plant was built in 10 months and operated for 11 months in order to evaluate the efficacy of new and existing technologies for nutrient removal from engineering and operations perspectives. It used deep aeration tanks and sufficiently large secondary clarifiers and minimum filter sizes to accurately mimic full-scale performance.
Kyotani also commented that Brown and Caldwell’s involvement in this project went beyond typical design and construction of a pilot facility. “Their role extended into leading the operation of the pilot and data management and evaluation during operation of the pilot facility,” he added.

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 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.

This is Brown and Caldwell’s third WERF Award for Excellence in Innovation. The company also was recognized for its collaborative work on the Seattle Public Utilities’ Flood Grouting Project in 2013 and DC Water’s Biosolids Program, which won the inaugural WERF award in 2011.
The Award for Excellence in Innovation recognizes organizations that have made improvements to wastewater and stormwater collection, storage or treatment operations, facilities, or processes by applying WERF research. A team of WERF volunteers selected the recipients from a field of well-qualified organizations.

Media contact

Cameron McWilliam | 303.968.2055 |