UConn officials are beginning the process of analyzing and, if feasible, building a microfiltration plant that could help reduce the University’s demand for potable water by 300,000 to 500,000 gallons of water a day.
The process, which has been used successfully in other states, would use non-potable, treated effluent to provide make-up water for the boilers and cooling towers at the Central Utilities Plant.
The reclaimed water could potentially be used for irrigation purposes as well.
The Board of Trustees recently authorized $550,000 for engineering and initial construction of a plant, should the study indicate the idea is feasible.
“Before we fully commit to the project, we want the engineers to study the process and tell us what needs to be done, what could be done, and at what cost,” says Thomas Q. Callahan, associate vice president for administration and operations.
Callahan says the plan involves initial processing and diversion of some of the effluent produced by the sewage treatment plant off LeDoyt Road to the cogeneration plant on Glenbrook Road.
Currently, the effluent is returned to the Willimantic River, below the North Eagleville dam.
It would allow us to reduce the demand for potable water withdrawn from the University’s groundwater wells and would be particularly beneficial during prolonged dry conditions, Callahan says.
Callahan says microfiltration is routinely used in several areas of the country, notably Florida and Arizona.
It is also used on some golf courses in Connecticut.
If the analysis indicates the project is feasible, Callahan says the University will likely require the support of state regulatory authorities before construction could begin.
But, he added, with determination, cooperation, and some luck, the project could be operational in two to three years.