Grants Pass cleans water, cuts energy waste


A modern building viewed from the outside

The Grants Pass Water Restoration Plant collects wastewater from its 37,000 residents and discharges the cleaned, treated water into the Rogue River. The treatment process is an energy-intensive one, according to Gary Brelinski, superintendent, Water Restoration Plant. The city manages an average of five million gallons of wastewater daily resulting in energy utility costs that can top $30,000 per month.

“Saving energy is a high priority,” Brelinski explains. “Even small improvements make an impact and help us reduce our energy costs.” Since 2011, the Grants Pass Water Restoration Plant has implemented several cost-cutting and energy-saving projects, including lighting upgrades and investments in energy-efficient equipment.

water that appears that its glowing green

The city wanted to improve the energy efficiency of its ultra-violet (UV) disinfection system, which hits treated wastewater with large dosages of high-intensity UV light to neutralize nasty microorganisms. Brelinski was looking for an option to increase system effectiveness and consume less energy. With the help of engineering consultants and Energy Trust of Oregon, Grants Pass selected a more efficient disinfection system that uses a medium-intensity UV light and is estimated to save more than 662,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Brelinski has seen energy use decrease by two-thirds with the new system.

Grants Pass earned $207,000 in cash incentives from Energy Trust toward its investment, which covered approximately 25% of the overall project cost. The city estimates the system saves more than $35,000 in annual energy utility costs.

wastewater collection and cleaning equipment

Currently, the plant is in the final stages of an upgrade to its aeration basin, where wastewater is treated with oxygen to break down organic material. Three new projects are in place to optimize that portion of the process and use energy more efficiently. When completed and fully active, the new projects are estimated to save more than 559,600 kWh annually.

“We factor energy efficiency into everything we do,” continues Brelinski. “Lower utility bills are good for our community because the savings keep costs down for our ratepayers.”

To learn more about energy-efficient upgrades available for your business, visit www.energytrust.org/SouthernOregon