Michigan-based company helping Great Lakes Water Authority identify big potential savings for residents by targeting energy waste reduction

July 5, 2017

Contacts:
Nick Assendelft (Michigan Agency for Energy), 517-284-8300

LANSING, Mich. – The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), one of the country’s largest regional water authorities, has the potential to save more than 20 percent – or hundreds of thousands of dollars -- in annual chemical costs in just one of the processes used at its Water Resource Recovery Facility in Detroit, with more potential savings on the way. 

The savings are the result of an intensive effort underway by Troy-based Aquasight at GLWA to reduce energy waste in wastewater treatment. Funding for the project comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator (WIA) program, part of its Better Buildings Initiative, and the Michigan Energy Office, part of the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE).

“There’s great potential with this project,” said Valerie Brader, MAE executive director. “We know that wastewater contains about five times more energy than is needed for its treatment. By targeting energy waste reduction in wastewater treatment, the expected environmental, economic and social benefits will be significant.

“Aquasight is helping the Great Lakes Water Authority be part of the wave of innovative utilities that are focusing on energy waste reduction in equipment, processes and operations, which will ultimately benefit residents.”

Aquasight’s Internet of Things technology mines real-time pre-existing sensors, operations and equipment data to run a wastewater facility more efficiently, saving on operational expenses while meeting regulatory requirements. The effort also helps facilities with predictive maintenance and more efficient capital upgrades and expense planning.

In its initial analysis at southeast Michigan-based GLWA, Aquasight identified a potential chemical savings of 26 percent annually, based on the data it gathered when examining phosphorus removal process at GLWA. Next, the company plans to examine all eight critical unit processes from raw sewage pumping to solids processing, including all energy intensive equipment and operations.

“Aquasight is very proud to be associated with GLWA and the Michigan Energy Office as part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative,” said Mahesh Lunani, Aquasight’s founder and chief executive officer. “For example, we have demonstrated that our technology enables water and wastewater utilities to save 12 percent to 53 percent in energy expenses alone. Our platform can help utilities in all three expense categories – operations, maintenance and capital, which make up greater than 85 percent of a utility’s budget. With the success of projects like the one at GLWA, we know it is only a matter of time before all cities adopt such technologies.”

The company’s work with GLWA began in March 2017 and is scheduled to continue through March 2018, when GLWA will begin to implement recommendations that have been identified and continuously use the real-time intelligence platform to sustain the savings. Results of the project will help the DOE establish best practices throughout the U.S. wastewater industry.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is supportive of the concept and will closely monitor the results for phosphorus levels in the wastewater treatment plant discharge.

“The Department of Energy welcomes Michigan’s leadership in energy efficiency in the wastewater sector,” said Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency. “As a partner in the Better Buildings Initiative, they are helping demonstrate how to save taxpayers money and improve the country’s critical wastewater infrastructure.”

The aim of the WIA program is to spur the adoption of best practices in data management, technologies, and financing for infrastructure improvement. WIA partners seek to improve the energy efficiency of their participating water resource recovery facilities by at least 30 percent.

The Great Lakes Water Authority began operations on Jan. 1, 2016, and serves 127 customer communities throughout seven southeast Michigan counties, nearly 40 percent of Michigan. For more information, please visit www.glwater.org.  

For more information about MAE, please visit www.michigan.gov/energy or sign up for its listservs to keep up on MAE matters.

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