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Resource Recovery and Energy Production

The Philadelphia Water Department is working to reduce energy consumption and generate renewable energy at our plants. Our Strategic Energy Plan includes projects that extract energy from material typically thought of as waste.
Biogas Cogeneration
The Philadelphia Water Department has constructed a new facility to capture methane generated from the existing sewage treatment process at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant. The captured biogas provides 85% of the electrical requirements for plant operations.

Biosolids Recycling
In past decades, many communities - including Philadelphia - dumped sewage sludge offshore in the ocean. Since 1988, however, we have been safely treating and processing biosolids from Southeastern Pennsylvania, recycling most biosolids into environmentally beneficial products used for strip mine reclamation, agricultural application, and community gardening.

Wastewater Geothermal
PWD's sewage geothermal installation at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plan extracts the thermal energy from the sewage arriving at the plant and uses it to heat the plant’s compressor building and gallery space.

Solar Array
PWD’s first solar panel system consists of 1,014 solar panels and is located at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant. Renewable solar energy generates a portion of the electricity that would otherwise have to be purchased by the Department to power plant operations.

Aircraft Deicing
In the winter of 2008, PWD began accepting aircraft deicer from the Philadelphia International Airport to feed to the anaerobic digesters at its Southwest Water Pollution Control Plant. This increases the production of energy-rich methane gas that PWD can use to power plant operations, which reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.