Westar is the proud recipient of the 2014 Edison Award, the electric power industry's most prestigious honor, for engineering and constructing a full-scale wetland to treat wastewater at Jeffrey Energy Center.
As part of recent investments to improve Westar's Jeffrey Energy Center, we rebuilt and upgraded the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems on each of the plant's three units, resulting in a 97-percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions. Recognizing the need to improve the treatment of discharged wastewater from the FGD process, we sought a natural and cost-effective way to ensure the plant's wastewater met our high environmental standards.
After extensive research of viable scrubber wastewater treatment methods, Westar's environmental and engineering staff determined the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly method of treatment was to construct a wetland paired with sulfate precipitation pre-treatment.
FGD wastewater is initially treated in the traditional wastewater treatment plant for the removal of sulfate followed by release into the wetland treatment process, which is engineered and targeted for the removal of metals. Water released from the wetland is then returned to the plant for reuse.
We developed a pilot system in 2010 to mimic biological processes occurring in natural wetlands. We determined that 19 water quality constituents were effectively treated through the pilot wetland project, but sulfate was not. Therefore, we paired the wetland with a targeted sulfate precipitation process that would overcome the lack of sulfate removal by the wetland.