Over the last six years from 2016 through 2021, Illinois American Water has partnered with Illinois farmers to apply over 109,000 dry tons of residuals and biosolids, rather than sending them to landfills. The water treatment residuals and wastewater treatment biosolids from Illinois American Water's Champaign, Fisher, Granite City, Peoria, Streator, Jerseyville and Chicago Metro service areas were applied to agricultural fields across the state.
Biosolids are primarily organic materials produced during wastewater treatment. Residuals are produced during the water treatment process and are typically alum or lime based. These materials are beneficial for agricultural land.
According to Ryan Schuler, water quality & environmental compliance manager, the partnership supports environmental sustainability. He said, "As the local water and wastewater provider, we know how important it is to protect our precious resources and to reuse what we can. This is why we focus on environmental partnerships and water source protection."
Solids generated from the water or wastewater treatment process are held in basins or drying lagoons. In the fall, after crops have been harvested, the alum residuals, lime residuals or biosolids are land applied. Farmers then plow the field after the application or in the spring to incorporate the residuals into the soil. Alum residuals benefit the farmland by helping with the retention of soil moisture, whereas lime residuals benefit the fields by adjusting pH to optimal levels. Biosolids add nitrogen and phosphorus to the agricultural fields.
As a part of the land application program, strict application guidelines are followed to prevent material from entering landfills, decrease farming-related chemical use and adjust pH to further protect natural resources. Illinois American Water works with land application contractors so the residuals are applied to farmland that has undergone required sampling. Also, application isn't made to sites that are wet, frozen, or near a potable water supply.
According to Schuler, there are several technical requirements, but "the effort is worth it." He said, "Reusing these natural conditioners on farmland is just one of the ways we implement green technology into our operations. It's the right thing to do and we are thankful to the farmers who partner with us," said Schuler.
Illinois American Water implements green technology whenever possible. Examples include:
- Using solar to help decrease energy use.
- Recycling to reduce waste.
- Supporting pharmaceutical disposal programs to prevent the flushing of unwanted medications.
- Offering environmental grants to support local, community initiatives to protect watersheds.
- Partnering with educators to educate young customers.
- Educating customers about wise water use.
To learn more about Illinois American Water's environmental efforts, please visit www.illinoisamwater.com.
About Illinois American Water ? Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and wastewater services to approximately 1.3 million people. American Water also operates a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,400 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and regulated-like drinking water and wastewater services to more than 14 million people in 24 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to help keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com and diversityataw.com. Follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
ILLINOIS AMERICAN WATER WAS RANKED HIGHEST IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION WITH LARGE WATER UTILITIES IN THE MIDWEST THREE YEARS IN A ROW!
For J.D. Power 2022 award information, visit jdpower.com/awards.
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