RVs Go Green With Active Water Solutions
Active Water Solutions, Adam Burke
MRV: The Buzz, Your RV Lifestyle Insider. Written By: Jannie Schaffer
Going Green With Active Water Solutions
Active Water Solutions Is Creating A New Standard For Wastewater Treatment Solutions Which Will Appeal To Many RV Users
The very nature of RVing attracts individuals with innately rooted connections to the natural environment. As part of this inherent foundation, RVers naturally take interest in reducing their carbon footprint and take action towards conserving the land they have come to hold so dear. While environmental issues reach a climax and popular RV destinations like California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington experience unprecedented water shortages, companies like Active Water Solutions (AWS) are doing their part in going green.
Company President Adam Burke, who himself has a vested interest in eco-friendly initiatives, recently sat down with The Buzz to discuss how AWS is creating a new standard for wastewater treatment solutions…A change that many of those in the RV world may find appealing on both an economic and environmental level.
Originally, AWS started as a Department of Defense research project handed out to a number of universities with the goal of creating a product that could be shipped to Afghanistan to help treat water on the military bases there. A private company in Houston, Texas, which began looking for ways to commercial the product, eventually purchased it. It’s through this process that the company formed a relationship with Dr. Truett Garrett, a name well known in the wastewater industry.
“He’s kind of the father of wastewater for the city of Houston [and] was a big part of designing the entire collection system,” expounded Burke. Through Dr. Garrett’s expertise, the company elevated their design “from something that was just sent to Afghanistan, to something that’s able to be used in the United States and up to EPA standards.”
It was also through this partnership that AWS was able to find a pilot location where they could prove the virtues of their product and the core technology behind the system: the submerged fixed bed biofilm reactor (SFBBR). Biological wastewater requires bacteria and other microorganisms to break down organic matter into liquid. But, unlike the traditional form of wastewater treatment called activated sludge, where water is treated through open tanks aerated with oxygen to keep the bacteria happy and healthy, the AWS biofilm development area is fixed. This stable and self-contained growth environment of the fixed bed reactor eliminates the possibility of washouts and other disruptions while providing a consistent foundation for bacteria to flourish.
Ultimately, this design increases efficiency by providing a way to treat greater volumes of wastewater while producing less solid waste. “You can increase the capacity and flow rate of the unit using the same size footprint, and it becomes more resistant to shocks in the system,” explained Burke. So in instances where there’s “a lot of rain, or chemicals get added, or if the concentrations vary up and down, the fixed bed provides a really solid foundation for the bacteria to survive.” Or in cases where it does get harmed, the fixed bed allows the bacteria to “regrow quickly so the unit can start back up again fast.”
The gravity fed AWS system also minimizes mechanical pumping and moving parts, an innovative process that eliminates the need for a return activated sludge component and many of the challenges and costs associated with system maintenance. Removing this complex system component is a major benefit to the operator who, after three days of training, is “spending maybe an hour every couple of days or a couple times a week with [the AWS] system, where as some [competing] units require 4-5 hours a day every single day.”
The biggest hurdle to the Active Water
Solutions system is permitting, a process that differs by state and can
take anywhere from a couple of months to a year depending on location,
needs, and the environment a customer is in.
Once the unit is designed, built and permitted, the modular design and prefabricated pieces streamline the installation process, which can normally be completed in a couple days. “It arrives as a packaged solution,” says Burke. “So when [the AWS system] gets there, the only real assembly that needs to take place is putting up the stairwell or a ladder and adding the screens…so it’s really just kind of bolting in a few pieces.” Although customer needs vary, RV park owners’ treatment requirements can normally be achieved in a 20-40 foot shipping container.
Reusing and recycling water not only enables RV park owners to get more cycles out of their water to conserve resources, but it is also an environmentally conscious option for those in areas with drought concerns. “Throughout the whole Southwest of the United States, including all of California, you have those [drought] concerns, and now there’s a big drought in the Southeast in Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolina’s,” educated Burke. “So in any areas that have regularly occurring droughts, it should be a bigger priority for those folks to conserve as much water as they can.”
One of AWS’s first installations is for a cooling tower project at San Houston State University, where they will be saving millions of gallons of water a year by converting sewage water that would normally be discharged into water that’s usable for the university’s cooling towers.
“We’re all trying to clean water to make the environment cleaner and help protect people,” sums up Burke. “It’s a mission and a goal that we’re trying to achieve that I can be passionate about. So it’s one of those things where when you’re spending twelve hours a day in an office, it doesn’t bother you so much because you’re working for something for the betterment of people in the world.”
A graduate of the Fashion Institute Of Technology in New York City with a
degree in Interactive Marketing, Jannie has worked both for FOX and
ASA Electronics. She enjoys traveling and whitewater rafting.