Tour of NEB’s Wastewater Treatment Facility

Learn how our state-of-the-art Solar Aquatics System® treats the NEB campus’ wastewater.

Script

Deana:
I'm here with Barry Cohen, who's the Manager of Environmental Health and Safety, here at NEB. Hey Barry!

Barry Cohen:
Hi, Deana. Welcome to the Greenhouse.

Deana:
Thank you, and we are in the wastewater treatment facility, which treats NEB's campus wastewater. Barry, will you take us around and show us how it works?

Barry Cohen:
I would be happy to.

Deana:
Great.

Barry Cohen:
So, we're standing here inside what we call the Greenhouse. This is a very unique and complex wastewater treatment plant, where we take all of our wastewater, whether it's from the laboratory, the kitchen, restrooms, all the sinks in the different buildings, and it all gets processed through a series of physical and biological filters before it's ultimately discharged from the facility, and actually goes back into the groundwater.

So, from a sustainability standpoint, where most companies will take their water and send it to a municipal wastewater treatment plant, it gets processed and then it gets dumped into a river or the ocean. We're actually recycling, or reusing, almost 100% of the water that we take from the town. You won't see something like this in a life sciences building.

So, behind me, out through the glass here, there are a series of tanks in the ground, and this is the first zone of the process. This is where all the waste is combined into what we call the blending tanks. So, all of the different types of waste will get mixed up into a homogeneous mixture, and then from there it'll move onto the aerifying and clarifying tanks.

There are six sets of four tanks each, we call 'em trains, and the purpose of the clarifying tanks is to continue to mix up all the material that's in there. But, it also adds oxygen to the process, and the oxygen actually feeds the bacteria that's in there, so that the good bacteria will compete with the bad bacteria and kill off the bad bacteria, and it's constantly moving.

And, from here, all the material will move over to what we call settling tanks. So, as the material moves from the clarifiers into the settling tank, all of the solids will settle to the bottom and push the clear water up to the top. And then, from there, through a series of pipes, the water will end up in the sand filters.

We're now standing in the marsh, but unlike other marshes, all the water is down below the surface. Like the sand filters, the purpose of the marsh is to further treat the wastewater and to filter out all of the solids. Then, from here, the liquid, mostly clarified, now will move to the final step in the process, which is the ultraviolet light.

Once the water leaves the marsh, it gets collected into a sump pit, and from the sump pit it will get pumped through a trough, which is actually behind us here, that has a series of ultraviolet lights. And, if there's any bacteria left in the water, they are very sensitive to ultraviolet light. It'll kill off the bacteria, and then from there the water is pumped out into our leaching field, which is in another part of the campus.

Deana:
So, Barry, thanks for showing us around today.

Barry Cohen:
My pleasure.

Deana:
Great.

 

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