Zeeland Clean Water Plant receives worldwide honor for commitment to sustainability

The Zeeland Clean Water Plant is one of just 65 utilities worldwide to receive recognition as a Utility of the Future Today (UotFT) for 2020.

UotFT was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), The Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The program spotlights water utilities that transform from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.

“This honor is a reflection of the Zeeland Clean Water Plant’s commitment to protecting public health, being good stewards of the environment, and supporting our community’s desired quality of life,” says Zeeland Mayor Kevin Klynstra. “Attaining this recognition demonstrates our success in upholding worldwide standards.”

The Zeeland Clean Water Plant provides service for residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the city of Zeeland, Zeeland Township, and parts of Holland Township, on average, cleaning about 2.1 million gallons of wastewater on a day-to-day basis. More than 119 miles of sanitary sewer lines and nine lift stations transports the used water, called wastewater, to the Clean Water Plant. 

Protecting the watershed

Here’s how it works. Wastewater contains large amounts of excess nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Using a physical and biological nutrient removal process, the plant cleans the wastewater of excess nutrients so it can be returned to nature in a safe manner to protect the watershed environment. Clean water meeting National EPA standards is returned to Noordeloos Creek and the captured nutrients are processed and recycled in a controlled application as agricultural fertilizer.

“The Zeeland Clean Water Plant uses a Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) process in our activated sludge plant to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater before it is discharged into the Noordeloos Creek. The plant treats an average of 2.1 million gallons a day (MGD). This means microorganisms are used to remove the waste products in the water using very little, if any chemicals at times,” says Plant Superintendent Doug Engelsman.

The 65 honorees, including the Zeeland Clean Water Plant, are credited with embracing and implementing innovative approaches and technologies — related to energy-efficiency, water conservation, green infrastructure, community partnering and engagement, and more — in order to improve sustainability and reduce environmental impacts while lowering operational costs and helping boost the local economy. 

The Zeeland Clean Water Plant will be recognized during a pre-recorded awards ceremony on Oct. 9 during WEFTEC Connect, an international conference on water quality. 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.