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CCWT Wins Gold Award for Excellence in Waste and Storm Water for Nitrogen Removing Biofilter from the American Council of Engineering Companies

Novebmer 23, 2020 - On Wednesday, November 18th, the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York held their Engineering Excellence Awards 2020 Virtual Gala and announced the NYS Center for Clean Water Technology as the winner of the Gold Award for Excellence in Waste and Storm Water for our Nitrogen Removing Biofilter.

The Center’s Director, Dr. Christopher Gobler, stated "This is a tremendous honor for The Center.  In just five years since our founding, it has been extremely gratifying to witness our Nitrogen Reducing Biofilters (NRB) evolve from an idea, to experiments, to full scale on-site wastewater treatment systems installed at locations all over Suffolk County. We are grateful for our collaboration with Hazen and Sawyer that was instrumental in the initiation of our NRB research and installations, Suffolk County for helping us pilot test our NRBs, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for their continued financial support.”

Launched by Governor Cuomo in 2015, the NYS Center for Clean Water Technology seeks to position Long Island as a leading center for innovation and development in treatment technology of wastewater and drinking water. The Center’s research focuses on developing cost-effective solutions to optimize removal of nitrogen and organic contaminants from pharmaceuticals and personal care products from both drinking water and onsite wastewater.

To mitigate the harmful effects of nitrogen from residential wastewater on marine and lacustrine ecosystems and on Long Island’s drinking water aquifers, the Center has developed non-proprietary onsite septic systems referred to as Nitrogen Removing Biofilters. These systems rely chiefly on gravity, locally available Long Island materials (sand and woodchips) and naturally occurring microbes to convert environmentally harmful nitrogen into inert nitrogen gas which comprises about 80% of the Earth's atmosphere. In addition to promulgating these non-proprietary systems, the Center also collaborates with local governments, other not-for-profits and commercial enterprises to achieve water treatment solutions.

In 2016, The Center set a goal of developing an innovative and alternative septic system that could reduce nitrogen levels to less than 10 mg per liter, would last more than 30 years, and would costs less than $10,000.  They worked with Hazen & Sawyer to collaboratively three types of NRBs each with a distinct design to reach this goal.  In 2016, a test version of each type of design was installed at a test center in Massachusetts.  In 2018, The Center installed the first NRBs on homes on Long Island.  Since that time, more than a dozen NRBs have been installed across Long Island.  Research by the Center has demonstrated that the NRBs are meeting the goal of achieving effluent with less than 10 mg of nitrogen per liter, as well as removing other harmful contaminants.

The Center was nominated by Hazen & Sawyer, an engineering firm that continues to collaborate with the Center with developing affordable onsite wastewater treatment systems. A Senior Associate with Hazen & Sawyer, Stephen F. Cluff, P.E. said “Hazen was honored to be selected by and work with the Center for Clean Water Technology for this initial award winning innovative/alternative research and design work to help them achieve their goals of developing high performance, low cost wastewater solutions.”