MWRD’s Stickney Water Reclamation Plant officially launched its phosphorus and nitrogen recovery system in late May. These excess nutrients can cause algae to grow and bloom in waterways, leading to ‘dead zones’ where aquatic life cannot survive. Chicago’s rivers lead to the Mississippi River and contribute to this hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
MWRD’s new phosphorus reclamation system will serve a dual purpose: removing harmful nutrients from the Mississippi River waterways and creating fertilizer that can be used on farms.
“What we have is the world’s largest nutrient recovery facility,” said Phillip Abrary, the co-founder, president and chief executive of Ostara, which installed this treatment system at MWRD’s facility. “What it does is essentially recovers the phosphorous and the nitrogen in the wastewater at the Stickney plant and coverts that into a high-grade, slow-release fertilizer that can be used for all sorts of agricultural applications.”
MWRD’s Stickney WRP is the largest water reclamation plant in the world, treating up to 1.44 billion gallons of water each day. More stringent state and federal regulations compelled MWRD to invest in this new treatment system to remove nutrients prior to discharging into the Chicago River.
In the video below from WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight”, Ostara’s Chief Technology Officer explains how the phosphorus recovery system works at the MWRD Stickney plant:
More information about this nutrient reclamation program can be found on WTTW’s website and on Water World’s website.
MWRD is currently studying phosphorus wastewater concentrations and investigating adding it as a required analytical parameter under the User Charge or Continued Compliance ordinance to comply with stricter overall limits mandated by IEPA effective January 1, 2014. They have recently sent out a letter to industrial facilities in its service area asking for volunteers to help determine the amount of phosphorus discharged by industry. MWRD currently estimates that 60% of the phosphorus that ends up in its waste treatment plants comes from domestic waste; 10% from products used in the home; and 30% from commercial and industrial use.
Gabriel is now offering to add phosphorus testing to User Charge and Continued Compliance sampling to help our clients establish a baseline for each facility’s current phosphorus discharge. This analysis can be added at a nominal rate to scheduled sampling events. By learning about current phosphorus levels, our clients can be proactive and prepared for upcoming MWRD regulations regarding phosphorus limits.
Excessive phosphorus and other nutrients lead to increased algae growth and decreased oxygen levels in rivers, streams and other watersheds. In the Mississippi River Basin (including Chicagoland waterways), this phosphorus and nitrogen pollution has caused a 5,840 square mile “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico where plants and fish cannot survive.
Contact Antonio Tabacchi at atabacchi[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123 if you want to add phosphorus testing to your upcoming sampling or to learn more about MWRD’s volunteer program.