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GE Water & Process Technologies, a unit of General Electric Company, honored German water management company Erftverband with an ecomagination Leadership Award for its role in improving the environmental, public health, and aesthetic water qualities of the Nordkanal. For nearly four years, Erftverband has used GE’s ecomagination-certified ZeeWeed membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology at the Kaarst Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Rhine Westphalia, which serves 80,000 population equivalents.
Treated effluent from the ZeeWeed MBR system is discharged to the Nordkanal, and can contribute as much as 50% of the flow to this sensitive, slow-moving waterway that is highly susceptible to collecting pollutants. Once the ZeeWeed system replaced the city’s 30-year old conventional treatment plant, the waterway experienced continuously rising water quality and aquatic health.
“The efficient, compact and cost-effective GE ZeeWeed MBR technology is an advanced wastewater treatment technology that produces an excellent treatment effluent and improves the water quality of the sensitive water courses in the Erftverband catchment area,” said Norbert Engelhardt, Managing Technical Director of the Erftverband.
Effluent from the Kaarst Wastewater Treatment Plant consistently exceeds the standards set by the European Bathing Water Quality Directive and has improved water quality in the 53-kilometre (33-mile) Nordkanal, raising it from level 5, or highly polluted, to level 3, or moderately polluted. Today, a larger and more diverse population of aquatic organisms is found in the Nordkanal, a clear indication of the positive impact that the high quality effluent from the ZeeWeed MBR system.
The land where the old wastewater treatment plant once stood will be reforested and developed into parklands, along with a network of recreational trails that will extend along the Nordkanal. Nearly half the size of a conventional wastewater treatment plant capable of similar treatment capacity, the compact ZeeWeed MBR at Nordkanal spared about 2.5 hectares of forest from being cut down to accommodate the plant; leaving an urban woodlot that removes many tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year. The smaller plant also saved approximately 1.5 million euros in capital costs and reduced the amount of materials that were transported during construction.