American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company, received a Business Achievement Award from the Environmental Business Journal (EBJ) for the seventh year. These awards annually recognize companies and executives for environmental achievements seen as outperforming the market.
American Water was recognized by the EBJ in the “Technology Merit: Water” category for its biofiltration technology, which replaces Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) in water treatment plant filters. In biofiltration, naturally occurring bacteria are allowed (or encouraged) to grow on filter media. The bacteria present can metabolize many organic compounds, including taste and odor-causing compounds. When GAC media is removed, the biological activity is destroyed and can take many months to become re-established. By allowing the bacteria to control the tastes and odors, the replacement of GAC can be deferred. Thus, the replacement period can be reduced from three or four years to 10 years or more.
As part of a company-wide effort, 22 of American Water’s 32 plants with GAC are in some level of testing to determine if biofiltration is appropriate at the specific plant sites. In 2014, deferring replacement of GAC led to savings of over $2M. In addition to these cost savings, other benefits of moving to biofiltration include improved water production and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that for each pound of GAC regenerated, 0.70 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted. Thus, this change in practice could potentially reduce American Water’s CO2 emissions by 2.4 million pounds per year. Additional benefits include avoided environmental impacts of transportation and potential air quality impacts from the thermal regeneration process.
“We are honored to be recognized for our environmental achievement,” said Mark LeChevallier, vice president and chief environmental officer for American Water. “In an era of increased concern about limited water supplies, energy consumption, water quality and climate change, the pressure on water utilities to deliver more efficiency and operational effectiveness is greater than ever for this energy-intensive industry.”
The 2015 EBJ awards will be presented at a special ceremony at the Environmental Industry Summit XIII in San Diego, Calif. on March 9, 2016. The Environmental Industry Summit is an annual three-day executive retreat hosted by EBI Inc.
About American Water
Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs approximately 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada. For more information, visit www.amwater.com.