The WateReuse Association (WRA) awarded Sustainable Water with the 2015 Innovative Project of the Year for The WaterHub® at Emory University; the first of its kind ever awarded by this association. The award recognizes unique, innovative projects that are practical and implementable to enhance the sustainability and efficiency of reclaimed water and acknowledges a project whose contributions to the community continue to advance the water reuse industry.
Located at Emory University’s main campus in Atlanta, Georgia, the WaterHub is an on-site water reclamation system developed by Sustainable Water which utilizes an eco-engineered treatment process to recycle wastewater for beneficial reuse. The 400,000 gallon per day water reclamation system is the first of its kind to be installed in the United States, and has opened the door for campus-scale water reclamation projects.
The unique, ecological treatment design helps set the WaterHub apart from other water reclamation systems. The WaterHub has a low energy footprint compared to reclamation systems with similar hydraulic design capacities, and its natural aesthetic allows siting in the midst of an urban campus setting. The system also serves as a living, learning laboratory – supporting the University’s mission to promote global, safe sustainable water management practices.
Treating up to 146 million gallons of water annually, the WaterHub is expected to displace nearly 40% of total water demand. The WaterHub will not only reduce the campus water footprint, but has a positive impact on community water supply and helps derisk campus operations from drought and potential water service disruptions resulting from aging municipal water infrastructure. The WaterHub will also help mitigate the campus environmental impact on surrounding waterways and the public sewer system by reducing campus outfall nearly 66%.
The award also came as a result of the innovative financing arrangement, credited as a major driver in quick project execution. Developed from a power-purchase agreement model, Sustainable Water introduced the water purchase agreement (WPA) as a financing method for the WaterHub at Emory. The WPA is a shared savings agreement in which water savings produced by the project are used to pay off the cost of the facility over time; meanwhile, the end-user receives substantial guaranteed savings beginning year 1 and lasting throughout the agreement term. The WPA financed a turn-key project for the University – inclusive of a 4,400 linear foot reclaimed water distribution system throughout campus.
Aligning with the University’s vision for a sustainable campus, the WaterHub reduces the overall water demand on one of the smallest municipal watersheds in the United States. The system creates lower cost water at a long-term stable rate; expected to save millions of dollars in water utility costs for Emory over a 20 year period.
In addition to winning WRA’s 2015 Innovative Project of the Year award, the WaterHub at Emory University has been previously recognized by other industries and professionals for its unique and sustaining qualities. The WaterHub received the 2015 Project Achievement Award by the Construction Management Association of America in the “Infrastructure Private Sector” category which highlighted a successful project constructed for less than $50 million. The WaterHub at Emory University recently added the Liquid Assets Award at the 2015 Metro Atlanta Chamber E3 Awards praising the project for its ability to conserve Atlanta’s natural resources and developing technology to enhance the environment. Beyond award recognition, the EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, visited the WaterHub and commended the efforts both Sustainable Water and Emory University made towards water reclamation and reuse by stating, “Emory University cut water use by 35% with the new WaterHub, saving the school by of utility costs. A model for us all!”