Sustain: to function fully, to endure, to adapt.
Sustainability is a focus of the WRRF Project, and is featured prominently in the Program Charter. The triple bottom line objectives in the Charter guide every critical project decision ensuring that environmental, economic and social sustainability are the foundation of the WRRF Project. Let’s look deeper.
Environmental sustainability zeros in on how our natural resources, water, energy, and habitat, can be sustained for all that use them. This means maximizing sustainable resource recovery, enhancing habitat and sustaining reliable compliance during operation.
“To me, sustainability means recycling and re-purposing a valuable resource with little to no cost to the environment. In the world of water reclamation, we are reclaiming one of our most precious resources – water – and recycling it for the benefit of the environment: watering our parks, creating and sustaining steelhead habitat, recharging our groundwater. Every little thing we do is important, and we’re constantly looking towards the future to make things even better.” – Christina Claxton, Laboratory Analyst
San Luis Obispo Creek is home to steelhead trout. Steelhead trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as “threatened” for the South-Central California Coast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This determination means “a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future”. The WRRF contributes to maintaining and preserving their natural habitat by discharging high quality treated water to the creek, keeping it flowing year-round when it might otherwise go dry. The WRRF monitors both flow and temperature in order to preserve the cold water habitat. The discharge to the creek post-upgrade will be cleaner, and thus improving the trout habitat to be sustained in San Luis Obispo.
Economic sustainability looks at getting the full benefit out of the City’s investment in the WRRF Project. The initial and ongoing investment will continue to benefit the community long after the project is completed. One of the main objectives of the Program Charter is maximizing value for the ratepayers’ investment. This means optimizing capital and life cycle cost, and planning for the future. The WRRF Project incorporates flexible, robust treatment processes that will produce high quality tertiary water now, while strategically positioning the City for potable reuse in the future.
“Being economically sustainable will continue to be a core driver in optimizing plant efficiency, and shifting our focus from treating waste to reclaiming marketable resources.” – Chris Lehman, WRRF Operator
Social sustainability revolves around being a good neighbor and creating lasting partnerships in the community. The WRRF Project team has developed partnerships with community members, stakeholder groups and other City departments. These partnerships continue to grow and enrich the outcome. This project is truly a group effort and its success will rely on sustaining these partnerships into the future. The WRRF is also a hub for learning, with over 1,000 visitors a year. The City will expand learning opportunities at the WRRF through development of a new public learning center that will engage and educate the community for decades to come.
“Social sustainability is very important at the WRRF. We have an extensive internship program here to help educate and train operators for the future. We partner with Cal Poly and give them a space so they can do research and tests with wastewater, and students from different classes get to tour the plant. We provide health benefits to the city and surrounding environment, by producing a high quality effluent and recycled water for the City of San Luis Obispo, so it may continue to be wonderful place to live and visit.” – James Austin, WRRF Operator
Tell us what sustainability means to you by giving us your feedback.