An Innovative and Unexpected Replacement for a Commercial Food Source

U.S. Water operators performed a startup of a new biological wastewater treatment system for a client. The client had an unusual request that the system be fully operational before they sent any waste to the system. This would typically require a commercially-available supplemental food source to sustain the biological organisms. This is critical to growing a healthy population of organisms (bacteria “bugs”) to treat the incoming waste.

Based on their deep understanding of the biological treatment process, combined with familiarity of the local business landscape, one of our operators suggested replacing the commercial food source for the biological organisms with a low-cost dog food from a local manufacturer. The operator contacted the manufacturer, which had a warehouse a few miles from the facility, and discovered that a significant amount of their product was not sellable because of broken bags, or other off spec reasons, and they could make it available to us at a very low cost.  The purchase was finalized, and our driver arrived for pickup in a box truck.  While loading several pallets filled with bags of dog food, the owner came out and asked, “Well gosh, how many dogs y’all got?” In jest, the operator responded, “millions, but they are very small.”

At U.S. Water, we encourage our operators to think ‘outside of the box’ for unique solutions that drive efficiency and cost savings.  In this example, our operator saved the client tens of thousands of dollars for their plant start up while simultaneously creating a use for dog food that would have been wasted.