PureBlue Blog


Innovation Floods the Water Space

January 22, 2019

Throughout North America, innovative technology both measures and meets traditional and emerging threats to water resources. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has highlighted an encouraging collection of examples of the ways innovation is currently being deployed in the water sector, organized by the 10 market opportunities the EPA has identified.Read more here.

These examples encompass an encouraging and wide variety of projects and programs that are conserving rainwater, saving energy, reducing pollution, reducing water-monitoring costs, reducing water impacts from energy production and much more. Check out the site for inspiration and ideas for future projects, or just for some relief from the relentless tide of unwelcome environmental news.

At the top of the EPA’s list was the Pacific Northwest’s own Gresham, Oregon, with its energy net zero wastewater treatment plant. The City of Gresham’s wastewater treatment plant is the first in the PNW to generate the same amount of electricity it consumes each year, using biogas generation and recovery as well as ground-mounted solar arrays to achieve its net-zero goals.

The plant treats 13 million gallons of water daily, serving 114,000- customers in Gresham, Fairview and Wood Village. The plant’s net zero accomplishment saves the city an estimated $500,000 a year in electricity costs.

The biogas fuel is created from fats, oils and grease that are collected from local food-service establishments and trucked to the plant. The City collects a tipping fee for receiving and recycling the waste, which in 2016 earned the city $254,624 for the 8,720 gallons a day of fats delivered from the restaurants. Prior to the net-zero project, the plant was the city’s highest consumer of energy. The 10-year development cost $9.1 million, with the city footing $5.6 million in costs, according to a report in The Oregonian. Energy Trust of Oregon provided $1.3 million in grants and incentives and the U.S. Department of Energy provided $2.2 million in tax credits.

Though achieving net zero won’t save consumers from future rate increases, the city’s Department of Environmental Services says it will reduce the amount of those rate increases. Future rate increases will pay for maintenance needs and capital improvement projects.

Proof positive that wastewater, when dealt with creatively, is not so much waste as treasure, just waiting to be transformed.


Know of a cool project like this? Write kc@pureblue.org and we will follow up and share with our community.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, sign-up for more water innovation updates via our bi-monthly newsletter Ripples.
Sign-up for ripples
Contact PureBlue