When water and “other stuff” go down the drain in Dubuque, it ends up at the Water & Resource Recovery Center (WRRC), which processes an average of 7 million gallons of wastewater per day.
What is Wastewater?
While most people think of wastewater as only sanitary sewage, wastewater comes from many sources, including homes, businesses, schools, and industries. This includes water from showers, sinks, dishwashers, laundries, car washes, hospitals, and food processing operations, and this is just scratching the surface.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the average American produces 100 gallons of wastewater each day—that’s nearly 1,600 glasses of water or almost two full bathtubs!
What happens at the WRRC?
Pure-oxygen biological treatment is used to clean the wastewater. Then, anaerobic digesters use helpful bacteria to convert sludge, the solid matter, into fertilizer for farm fields. Approximately 15.5 tons of fertilizer are produced per day. That’s an average of 8 semi loads per week of useful material created instead of being burned.
The anaerobic digestion process produces methane gas. The gas is captured, cleaned, and burned to power turbines that generate electricity. The heat and electricity produced through this process is used to heat and power the WRRC. Currently, the facility produces enough electricity to power approximately 360 households per day, which is 70% of the electricity needed to operate the facility.
Learn more about various aspects of the WRRC below: