Suez North America, operator of Nassau’s sewer system, unveiled its new water recycling system — technology expected to save up to 300 million gallons of groundwater annually — at the county’s Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh Friday.
The $1.1 million project, paid entirely by Suez, will reuse treated wastewater for plant operations such as cooling generators and washing tanks and equipment. The project is expected to result in a net reduction of the plant’s operating expenses by more than $350,000 per year.
“We accepted the challenge (from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran) to be innovative and find new ways to protect the environment,” Eric Gernath, chief executive of Suez North America, said at a news conference Friday.
"Investment in water reuse is critical to help our island maintain a clean, safe and abundant water supply," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a local non-profit that advocates for environmental policies. "We must conserve drinking water on Long Island to make sure we are sustainable."
The water reuse system utilizes large strainers to remove solids from wastewater and ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. The Cedar Creek facility typically uses about 600 gallons of groundwater per minute.
Byproducts of the process, such as biosolids, can be used for agricultural purposes and biogas to generate electricity or heat, said Suez North America vice president and general manager Alan Weland.
The system will result in an 80 percent reduction in the amount of water withdrawn from the aquifer, according to Curran. "This project is helping Nassau County protect our aquifer, preserve our drinking water and save our taxpayers money."
Suez intends to explore the possibility of utilizing highly treated plant effluent to water the golf course adjacent to Bay Park and to water Cedar Creek Park. In the future, additional water reuse systems may be built at Bay Park and Glen Cove facilities.
"Water recycling is not just a California issue," Gernath said, noting other states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona are finding ways to mitigate water issues.
Suez is one of the largest wastewater utilities in New York State and has operated Nassau’s three major wastewater treatment plants, 53 pumping stations and 3,000 miles of sewers, since January 2015. The contract will pay the French-based company at least $1.14 billion over 20 years.