The first system of its kind installed in the United States, the WaterHub® is a decentralized, commercial-scale water reclamation and reuse system serving Emory University’s main campus just outside of Atlanta, GA. Producing up to 400,000 gallons of reclaimed water per day, the WaterHub mines wastewater directly from the campus sewer system and utilizes ecological treatment processes to treat the wastewater for beneficial reuse. The system recycles up to two-thirds of campus wastewater for non-potable demands including heating, cooling and toilet flushing. Moving the field of water reclamation forward, the WaterHub serves as a model for commercial-scale sustainable water management in urban areas.
The WaterHub enables the University to reduce its draw of potable water by up to 146 million gallons annually – displacing nearly 40% of total campus water demand. The system enhances campus resiliency by providing a consistent, reliable and redundant source of water for extensive non-potable demands and critical heating and air conditioning needs. The WaterHub is designed to de-risk campus operations from potential water service disruptions resulting from drought and aging municipal water infrastructure.
The WaterHub was made possible through an innovative Water Purchase Agreement (WPA). The WPA allowed Sustainable Water to fully design, construct and operate the WaterHub at no capital expense or development risk to the University. The WaterHub creates lower cost water at a long-term stable rate and is expected to save millions of dollars in water utility costs to Emory over a 20 year period. The WaterHub aligns with the University’s vision for a sustainable campus and reduces the overall water demand on one of the smallest municipal watersheds in the United States.
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In addition to its functional use as a water reclamation facility, the WaterHub is designed as a living, learning laboratory to enhance the University’s academic environment. With built-in lab space and easy access ports for water quality testing, the facility enables research in a number of disciplines and is used as an immersion learning tool to enhance curriculum. Emory’s faculty have integrated new curriculum into the facility, and the WaterHub is expected to bring additional research funds and enable the University to qualify for new grants in the future.
Since its commissioning, the facility has had over 1000 tour requests from Fortune 500 companies, other universities, and local and national government agencies. The system has attracted attention from high-profile figures like the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency as well as high-level executives of large corporations and institutions.