On a cloudy Thursday afternoon in April, we took 22 students and AEE members on a 2-hour tour of the City of Las Vegas’ Water Pollution Control Facility in the East Valley. After a brief orientation and introductions, we walked through the gravity fed process from where raw (the stinky start stage) sewage enters the process, to the multiple steps that followed. The tour made stops in the major places where filtration, chemical treatment, odor reduction and solid separation is then followed by final treatment, before water is returned to the Las Vegas Wash (the good smelling water stage).
Since it takes energy to run infrastructure with moving parts, and on a scale that serves millions of people, we looked deeper at the sources of energy and consumption statistics. This site began operations decades ago with power taken from the grid and supplied through the local Nevada Energy (NVE) utility. It now co-mingles power that is sourced through solar, reclaimed methane and traditional grid power from hydro sources (Bureau of Reclamation and Hoover Dam).
The site has about a thousand large and small motors that use this power to keep things flowing, despite fluctuations in sewage rate and volume. The water purification process requires precise fluid movement with treatment durations that influence water quality and efficiency. This is a fancy way to say, they have to be careful with what is sent down the drain, since it is always under the watchful eye of regulators.
The plant can peak at 91 million gallons per day for treatment, but they usually process less since a new water treatment plant up north recently came online. As upgrades for sensors, controls and automation continue to evolve, this site uses the latest technology to keep water filtration energy efficient. It was an informative tour was enjoyed by all that attended.
Fun Fact - New Year’s day and Super Bowl Sunday see the most flow due to flushes in the valley!
Some photos below from the trip.