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GSU first to re-use water
A rainbow forms over Glenn Bryant Field as Georgia Southern University Athletics Facilities Manager Roger Inman fires up the irrigation system at Paulson Stadium.
     Georgia Southern University is slated to be the first customer for the City of Statesboro’s water re-use system.
    Designed to reclaim treated wastewater, the system will pump processed water to the ponds near the Recreation Activities Center, which will then be used by the university for irrigation purposes.
    According to Mike Dipple, GSU’s associate director of the Physical Plant, the amount of water the university can withdraw from the aquifer is essentially capped by the state, so it is imperative that GSU look for ways to conserve water.
    “The university became aware of its water consumption as it related to its growth potential and we realized that the formula didn’t fit,” said Dipple. “In order to grow, we need to figure out how to grow the university without increasing the draw from the aquifer.”
    Wayne Johnson, director of water and wastewater for Statesboro, said the city has been planning for a re-use system and state reclaim requirements since they instituted the city’s long-term water plan in 1993.
    “We were looking long range on what we had to do to maintain our drinking water supply,” said Johnson. “We did everything with the idea that there would be a demand for treated wastewater.”
    Currently, city wastewater is treated with ultra-violet lights, which are designed to kill both viruses and bacteria before being released back into the local environment. While just shy of potable, this water is perfectly satisfactory for watering landscape or fields. In addition, GSU will add a small amount of chlorine before spraying the water on the fields in order to kill any organisms that may have been picked up in the pipes.
    In fact, GSU is targeting Glenn Bryant Field and the fields around the RAC for the first phase of reclaimed water use. Initial estimates show GSU using between 350,000 and 500,000 gallons of reclaimed water daily in these areas alone. Currently, GSU uses potable water from the aquifer in addition to rain water runoff collected in the RAC ponds to irrigate these fields.
    Last year, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division made it mandatory for all municipalities and other water providers to investigate the feasibility and availability of water re-use in their area, as a condition for receiving a groundwater withdraw permit from the state. In Statesboro’s case, there is approximately 3.8 million gallons of treated wastewater being discharged daily available for re-use.
    “Every gallon (of reclaimed water) that we can get someone to use, it gives us one more gallon of potable water we can have for new or existing customers,” said Johnson.
    Benefits abound with the water reuse system. For the city, the source of potable water — the Florida aquifer — is protected from overuse, since water drawn from the aquifer and used as irrigation never returns to the aquifer. For GSU, instead of paying a premium price for potable water drawn from the aquifer, they would purchase reclaimed water at a discounted price.
    “From the university point of view, we offset the pumped (aquifer) water with reclaimed waters,” said Dipple.
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