Interesting article in the Boston Globe today about an idea from the Charles River Watershed Association: Develop lots of relatively small sewage-processing systems instead of a few really big ones, and combine them with food waste composting to produce electricity and hot/cold water which can be used by nearby homes and businesses.
A major advantage, aside from using energy that is currently wasted, would be to reduce the amount of water that flows through big pipes to the massive Deer Island Treatment Plant and then out into the ocean, instead of percolating back down into the aquifer: “We cleaned up Boston Harbor but we’re dewatering Eastern Massachusetts,” said Bob Zimmerman, the group’s executive director. “You tell me which is worse.”
At a higher level, the idea is analogous to what’s starting to happen in electricity production: Instead of a few giant power plants, we’re moving to a mix of very small (rooftop solar) and mid-sized (microgrid) electricity-generating systems tied together in complicated ways, and a major advantage is to reduce the amount of carbon that flows into the atmosphere.
The article is here and it’s worth a read. Very interesting idea.