The Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (LAWPCA) was presented with a 2014 Environmental Excellence Award recently for their voluntarily efforts to go beyond regulatory requirements to promote innovation and environmental sustainability.
LAWPCA was recognized by Governor Paul R. LePage and Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho for its anaerobic digestion and co-generation facility for waste water solids that went operational in 2013. Others receiving the statewide awards were Texas Instruments, Allagash Brewery, and the Maine Water Environment Association.
The Lewiston-Auburn Pollution Control Authority, which invested $14 million into the project, won in the “Local, State, or Tribal Government” category. By enhancing its wastewater treatment and solids processing facilities, LAWPCA has improved operations to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. The Authority is able to accept waste water treatment solids from other facilities, thus diverting that material from landfills, and uses methane produced as a by-product to produce electricity from two turbine generators. As an added benefit, the heat is used to warm the sludge within the digesters, saving the Authority two-thirds of its electrical costs. This was all done without a sewer rate increase.
“The Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority is pleased to accept this Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence,” said Authority Board Chair Phil Nadeau. “We believe that the anaerobic digestion facilities can serve to compliment economic growth in the Twin Cities by keeping our treatment costs low; by providing an opportunity to process wastes, such as sewer grease and food processing wastes, that would otherwise be difficult to dispose of; and by generating renewable power.
“In addition to cutting the volume of solids leaving our wastewater treatment facilities for composting or farm field applications, and generating nearly half of the power needed to run the treatment plant, we expect to reduce greenhouse gasses from our solids handling programs by 80 percent.”
Since the facility’s opening, Nadeau has also touted the fact that it is Maine’s first publicly operated anaerobic digester, a project that has taken its place among Maine’s first family of alternative energy solutions. One of the largest public sector initiatives in the Twin Cities, the project represents the single largest capital investment made by LAWPCA since its creation in 1967.
“By recognizing and celebrating these employers who make the commitment to innovate, we show that investing in Maine produces environmental benefits,” said Governor LePage. “The 2014 recipients continue the tradition of Maine’s strong legacy of environmental excellence.”
Administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the 2014 Environmental Excellence awards were presented in a ceremony at the world’s leading drumstick manufacturer, the Vic Firth Company of Newport. Senior staff from the Governor’s Office and the Maine DEP, representatives from each of the winning organizations, members of the Board of Environmental Protection and the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and leaders from Maine’s environment and business communities attended the awards.