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Environmental Engineering Awards Recognize Black & Veatch for ‘Outstanding Achievement’ on Wastewater Projects

Two California biological nutrient removal and biosolids projects earn awards from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists

The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) awarded two Black & Veatch projects with 2022 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards, reflecting the engineering company’s efforts to increase sustainability and water resilience in California.

New biological nutrient removal (BNR) facilities designed by Black & Veatch for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) won the Grand Prize in the Design category, along with a one-time award bestowed in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Clean Water Act. In addition, the company’s design of a new Biosolids and Energy Recovery Facility for the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) won an Honor award in the Design category.

“Both projects effectively harness engineering and science for progressive and holistic resource management, and both exemplify excellence in water management by water utilities,” said James H. Clark, senior vice president with Black & Veatch, who served as design project manager for both award-winning projects.

“The BNR facilities are helping Regional San meet stringent California effluent regulations and protect a vital water supply resource, while the Biosolids and Energy Recovery Facility at the Michelson Water Recycling Plant (MWRP) produces a Class-A product usable as fertilizer and e‐fuel and generates energy to meet the facility’s power needs for IRWD.”

In Northern California, the new BNR facilities are the centerpiece of the $1.7 billion upgrade to the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant known as the EchoWater Project. The facilities have all but eliminated ammonia and significantly reduced nitrogen in the discharge, strengthening the resilience of the Sacramento‐San Joaquin River Delta – a crucial environmental resource for California.

“Based on a full year of operation, the BNR facilities have performed admirably, achieving a high level of treatment while producing a stable effluent that has met design expectations,” said William Yu, senior civil engineer with Regional San. “This past October, a record wet-weather event brought more than 500 million gallons per day (MGD) into the plant. The facilities proved their flexibility in handling the extreme event while continuing to discharge high‐quality effluent.”

In Southern California, IRWD enhanced its resource-recycling capabilities by adding a new state‐of‐the‐art Biosolids and Energy Recovery facility next to the existing water recycling plant. The new facility converts solids from the water recycling process at MWRP into Class A biosolids for use as fertilizer and e‐fuel, and biogas to run microturbines that power the facility.

“We’re making good use of by-products from the treatment of what people typically see as waste,” said Jose Zepeda, IRWD director of recycling operations, who oversees the facility. “This reflects IRWD’s ongoing commitment to advancing environmentally sustainable treatment practices while providing safe and cost‐effective services to our community.”

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Editor’s Notes:

  • The AAEES is a non-profit organization serving environmental engineers and scientists. The special 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act category was added this year to recognize excellence in the science and art of water pollution control.
  • On the Regional San project, Black & Veatch relied on dynamic modeling, testing and cutting‐edge process expertise to yield a design approach that successfully addressed the scale of the BNR facilities and related challenges involving restrictive new state effluent limits, the fluctuating characteristics of the plant’s influent, and Regional San’s tight schedule and environmental impact goals.
  • Black & Veatch cohesively combined IRWD’s new biosolids facility with existing MWRP facilities. The design approach transformed waste from the liquids’ treatment process into valuable resources for beneficial use, e.g., Class A biosolids for use as fertilizer and e‐fuel, and biogas to power the microturbines that provide electricity for the facility. The facility was designed with the latest in SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) technology as well as an on‐ site sample analysis lab.

About Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch is a 100-percent employee-owned global engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people around the world by addressing the resilience and reliability of our most important infrastructure assets. Our revenues in 2020 exceeded US$3.0 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com and on social media.

About Regional San

Regional San owns the regional wastewater conveyance system and the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant located near Elk Grove. Regional San provides wastewater conveyance, treatment and disposal service to about 1.6 million people throughout the Sacramento region. Learn more at regionalsan.com.

About Irvine Ranch Water District

Established in 1961, Irvine Ranch Water District is an independent, not‐for‐profit public agency serving central Orange County. It provides high‐quality services for drinking water, sewage collection and treatment, recycled water and biosolids and energy recovery programs, and urban runoff treatment, serving a daytime population of approximately 600,000 including 447,000 customers.

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