Inland Brine Disposal Wetlands Innovation Project wins Water & Wastes Digest`s 2016 Top Project

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Source: CH2M Hill Companies, Ltd.

The CH2M-designed demonstration-scale wetland provides a new water supply for habitat restoration and will significantly help in flood control issues.

DENVER -- Water industry publication, Water & Wastes Digest (W&WD), has selected the CH2M-designed Inland Brine Disposal Wetlands Innovation Project in Goodyear, Arizona, as its 2016 Top Project. Selected by W&WD editorial staff, the award recognizes the most innovative and remarkable water or wastewater projects in the U.S. that were in the design or construction phase over the past 18 months.

CH2M is currently partnering with the City of Goodyear, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Maricopa County Parks & Recreation to develop a preliminary design for a demonstration-scale wetland. The project will be sited at the Maricopa County Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Once constructed, the demonstration wetlands will discharge treated wetland effluent blended with groundwater into the Gila River.

“The Maricopa County Estrella Mountain Regional Park will have significant enhancements through constructed wetlands at their facility, creating environmental enhancements, recreational trails, birding and a new artificial water feature at their visitor center,” said Mark Holmes, water resources manager with Goodyear’s Public Works Department. “The Maricopa County Flood Control District is eagerly anticipating discharge water from these into the dry Gila River, which will help restore the riparian environment, create environmental enhancements, help keep the invasive dry-loving salt cedar out of this riparian area and significantly help in flood control issues. Also, Reclamation will have water restored back into a river system.”

The City, Reclamation and CH2M have been working together since 2007 to develop an approach to use brackish water wetlands to treat and reuse reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate. The concept uses engineered wetlands to remove contaminants such as arsenic, selenium and nitrate-nitrogen from the City’s RO concentrate to make it suitable to be blended then discharged to the Gila River as a new water supply for habitat restoration.

After the preliminary studies, CH2M and Reclamation designed a pilot-scale wetlands facility at the City’s Bullard Water Campus (BWC) which revealed that constructed wetlands can effectively reduce contaminants in RO concentrate. This significant finding opens the door for more water reuse options and opportunities in inland communities. Since operations began in 2010, the pilot has validated the basic concept of contaminant removal.

“This pilot project has been a strong collaboration between the City, Reclamation and CH2M since 2007,” said CH2M Global Water Business Group President Peter Nicol. “We are honored to be recognized along with our client for the Inland Brine Disposable Wetlands Innovation Project, which has proven to be an effective method for managing RO concentrate, thus increasing water reuse capabilities and possibilities.”

The RO process is an exceptionally effective treatment technology that produces high-quality water that can be used for drinking. However, the process of creating drinking water using the RO process generates a waste stream of concentrated contaminants that must be managed and disposed of. This is particularly challenging for inland communities where oceanic discharges are not available. Innovative, cost-effective alternative approaches are required for management, disposal and concentrate reuse, which is increasingly important as the world is challenged with water scarcity. The project demonstrates that a management and disposal approach using natural treatment systems such as constructed wetlands for volume reduction and contaminant removal can effectively reduce contaminants in RO concentrate.

The City has been evaluating this concept as an innovative method to treat RO concentrate while increasing their water reuse capability. Like other inland communities in the southwest, the City is challenged to develop more sustainable concentrate management methods that will reduce or eliminate the impact of the concentrate on water resources and the environment.

The W&WD award recognizes the value of the project for both Goodyear and other inland communities who are interested in beneficial reuse of RO concentrate. The award was presented at the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®), held September 24-28 in New Orleans, Louisiana and will be showcased in W&WD’s December 2016 issue.

About CH2M

CH2Mleads the professional services industry delivering sustainable solutions benefiting societal, environmental and economic outcomes with the development of infrastructure and industry. In this way, CH2Mers make a positive difference providing consulting, design, engineering and management services for clients in water; environmentand nuclear; transportation; energyandindustrial markets, from iconic infrastructure to global programs like the Olympic Games. Ranked among the World’s Most Ethical Companies and top firms in environmental consulting and program management, CH2M in 2016 became the first professional services firm honored with the World Environment Center Gold Medal Award for efforts advancing sustainable development. Connect with CH2M at www.ch2m.com; LinkedIn; Twitter; and Facebook.

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