BJWSA has always been committed to sustainable practices for our facilities and operations. In 2020, we formed an ad hoc committee of our board of directors and staff liaison Director of Technology & Innovation Tricia Kilgore, P.E. The purpose of this group is to expand on current initiatives, develop new avenues and to infuse our internal culture with an appreciation for sustainable practices.
BJWSA Sustainability initiatives:
- Water reuse/reclamation for irrigation – BJWSA treats about 10 million gallons a wastewater every day. Of the 3.8 billion gallons treated at our eight wastewater facilities in 2020, 8% of the treated water was re-used beneficially for irrigation instead of discharged to water body or a spray field. Reclaimed water was used to irrigate a sod farm, common areas in subdivisions, residential yards and gardens, and a dozen golf courses across our service area. Irrigating with treated effluent avoids the use of wells and limited groundwater which is experiencing salt water intrusion in our area.
- Water reuse for wetlands restoration – 50% of wastewater treated in 2020 was used beneficially for wetlands restoration in the Great Swamp where BJWSA owns 1100 acres of lowland floodplain. Half of the land was timbered, and for more than a decade BJWSA has been working to restore the wetlands: the logging roads were removed to restore that natural flow, and tens of thousands of trees have been planted The Great Swamp is a carbon sink, absorbing approximately 2800 tons of carbon dioxide ever year.
- Facility design – BJWSA is working to make our facilities more sustainable. Our treatment plants and operations buildings have all been converted to LED lighting. The administration building uses a water source heat pump connected to the Chelsea WTP for heating and cooling. The Hardeeville WRF expansion in 2018 was first Envision certified wastewater facility in SC. The Envision program is a sustainability certification program for infrastructure, similar to LEED Green certification for buildings.
- Solar energy – in 2018, solar PV arrays were constructed at Port Royal WRF and St Helena WWTP resulting in $400,000 in energy savings from March 2018 to March 2020, equivalent of planting over 50,000 trees, or conserving more than 200,000 gallons of gasoline. BJWSA is currently exploring expansion of solar energy at additional facilities.
- Savannah River source water quality protection – BJWSA is a leader in the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, a partnership of utilities and industries in Georgia and South Carolina, working to protect water quality through conservation and land management in the watershed. In 2019, BJWSA contributed to the Groton Plantation tract conservation easement, the largest tract to be conserved to date.