Nov 09, 2021

Operational Resilience Through Water Reuse

Philip Morris USA water reuse project opens new resiliency avenues

The WaterHub at Philip Morris USA meets Level 1 recycled water treatment standards in Virginia.

The WaterHub at Philip Morris USA (PMUSA) is an eco-engineered wastewater reclamation and reuse system operating in Richmond, Virginia. This facility is designed to intercept and reclaim industrial wastewater from the Fortune 100 and FDA-regulated manufacturing complex, and reuse that treated effluent for utility purposes on-site. The facility can produce 650,000 gallons per day of Level 1 Reclaimed Water per State of Virginia standards.

The WaterHub is the primary water supply for a district-energy system with 23,300 tons of refrigeration capacity.

“By closing the loop on the water we use, we can reduce our burden and reliance on the City of Richmond’s aging water infrastructure and be a better neighbor in addition to better securing a critical resource in our supply,” said Ron Hacket, senior manager of manufacturing facilities for PMUSA.

Sustainable Infrastructure

Now sitting on the site of a former coal-fired power plant, the WaterHub is a symbol of an industrial park’s turn to sustainable infrastructure. The system is expected to decrease total potable water use for the park by approximately 40% and decrease total wastewater discharge by up to 70%. Moreover, the system is designed to reduce risk of manufacturing center downtime by providing a redundant (n+1) source of makeup water for critical utility operations (cooling tower makeup and chiller makeup).

The full project scope includes approximately 6,000 linear feet of water conveyance and distribution piping in addition to 160,000 gallons of clean water storage. The facility contains a full-service water testing laboratory, operator offices and a conference room for staff and guests. System operations are highly automated, leveraging cloud-based state-of-the-art SCADA and 24-hour remote monitoring capabilities. Sustainable Water will provide long-term operational and maintenance services for the system through a Water Processing Agreement.


Technology & Design

The WaterHub at PMUSA is an eco-engineered wastewater reclamation and reuse system that combines natural treatment techniques with the latest membrane filtration, disinfection, and deionization technologies. With increased microbial biodiversity, WaterHub (hydroponic) treatment systems provide a more resilient biological process design, with reduced energy profiles, a compact physical footprint, and reduced biosolid production. With a lush, natural system aesthetic, full odor-control and automated operational features, the WaterHub is specifically designed for integration into a variety of settings.

Effluent Design

The hydroponic reactors, found in the glasshouse, utilize plants and their root systems to mimic and maximize natural treatment efficiencies associated with oxygen diffusion and habitat creation. The full process design of the WaterHub at PMUSA includes: primary screening, pre-anoxic, aerobic, hydroponic and post anoxic reactors, submerged membranes, dual-disinfection (ultraviolet and chlorine) and a side-stream reverse osmosis system to achieve the highest level of recycled water treatment in Virginia (Level 1) and to meet stringent utility reuse requirements.

About the author

Bob Salvatelli is the director of water origination at Sustainable Water. Salvatelli can be reached at [email protected].