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The extraordinarily low carbon footprint Aero-Fac® wastewater treatment system is becoming the key solution to eliminating CSOs, odour, sludge handling, reducing the carbon footprint and dramatically cutting both OPEX & CAPEX costs by employing a well-proven Nature Based Solution.

This seminar upcoming in October 2023 and presented by AquaEnviro focuses on how to achieve net zero carbon and true sustainability. According to the seminar website, as existing asset infrastructure ages and the demands for improved wastewater quality increases, there is an opportunity not just to upgrade existing Activated Sludge assets but to strategically replace and upgrade our other wastewater treatment and transmission infrastructure.

Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change and Stormwater Overflows

Aero-Fac® is a Nature Based Solution that is uniquely suited to meet the many challenges of climate change, including meeting new legal requirements for stormwater overflow containment. Aero-Fac® offers an extremely low carbon footprint, dramatic energy savings, no sludge production or handling, plus energy-free disinfection, thereby making effluent suitable for irrigation water re-use or safe-bathing waters whether discharged to river or sea.

As an example, the 2018-built Aero-Fac® WwTP at Northumbrian Water’s Waren Mill has been operating odour-free with over 10x peak flows/loads, automatically handling surges without operator intervention or problematic discharges. Yorkshire Water’s 15,000 PE Withernsea Aero-Fac® has been designed to automatically accommodate a 2x flow/load condition without operator intervention.

A Proven Track Record Over Two Decades of Performance in the UK

Twenty three years ago in 2000, Montgomery Watson Projects (now Stantec) constructed the first Aero-Fac® WwTP in the UK for Tayside Regional Council/North of Scotland Water Authority (NoSWA) at Errol, Scotland. In 2019 Gurney Environmental and Stantec initiated work with Yorkshire Water to develop Yorkshire's new 15,000 PE Aero-Fac® WwTP at Withernsea as an alternative to the activated sludge plant that had been initially proposed. Yorkshire Water had spent considerable time and effort researching various options, but saw excellent benefits from the well-proven and time-tested Aero-Fac® technology, a true Nature Based Solution that has been successfully used elsewhere in England and Scotland over the past two decades.

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Data supplied by Yorkshire Water for 15,000 PE Aero-Fac® WwTP.

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First new WwTP for Yorkshire Water in about 20 years has been designed to be incredibly flexible and sustainable with low carbon footprint.

Extraordinary Flow Variation Capability

In 2018 Gurney Environmental developed the new Waren Mill Aero-Fac® wastewater treatment system for Northumbrian Water to meet a normal winter population of 200, but rising to a summer population of almost 3,000! This dramatic variation in flow from winter to summer can create serious issues for many WwTP designs. At this particular location, Northumbrian Water had been tankering away excess wastewater flows over the 150-pe SAF design with an associated high operating cost and carbon footprint.

In the analysis by Northumbrian Water’s consultants, Aero-Fac® offered a well-proven and time-tested Nature Based Solution with the flexibility and robustness of operation to be able to cost-effectively and easily accommodate this large flow variation.

Since construction, especially with the covid pandemic, the nearby caravan site was full, so the WwTP had high load summers. However, with the new Aero-Fac® system, Northumbrian Water have finally been able to eliminate expensive tankering!

Northumbrian Water's 2018 Waren Mill Aero-Fac®

 Northumberland Water's Aero-Fac® WwTP routinely handles 10x peak flows/loads without operator intervention.

Enhanced, Lower-cost Disinfection

As an example of a “greener”, lower maintenance and cost approach, the UV system typically required by the Environment Agency was engineered out of the Withernsea WwTP as a result of monitoring carried out by Stantec at other Aero-Fac® wastewater treatment plants around the UK that demonstrated that the wwtp had met the discharge requirements without the need for UV.

The unique combination of inherent disinfection provided by stabilisation ponds, enhanced by the continual gentle mixing provided by Gurney Environmental's unique wind powered SERIES 3 aerator/mixers ensure that cell contents are repeatedly exposed to the sun for natural UV kill. This inherent benefit combined with longer retention/ stabilisation times produces an effluent that is safe for irrigation reuse, which according to the EU and various articles and papers on climate change, is going to be needed in the future. This also has the advantage where wastewater treatment systems can operate with better disinfection capabilities and require smaller or even no tertiary disinfection.

Zero Sludge Handling

Additionally, the new WwTP at Withernsea will have no need for sludge removal, meaning no sludge lorry tanker movements and the impact on traffic this brings. All sludge is digested within the primary stage of the Aero-Fac® system as evidenced by 20+ years of operation at Errol, Scotland.

The Withernsea Project

The work at Withernsea is part of a £26 million scheme to move the existing wastewater treatment works further inland due to coastal erosion.

The Withernsea Aero-Fac® was the first new wwtp constructed by Yorkshire Water in about 20 years and underscores their commitment to using highly sustainable technology that can reduce total 20-year operating costs (OPEX) by 70-90% as compared to often used conventional activated sludge options.

The Search for Sustainability

When the new construction was originally announced for Withernsea, this is what Yorkshire Water had to say:
"Withernsea Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) is located to the south of Withernsea, close to the village of Hollym. Since 2015, we’ve engaged with stakeholders and local residents on a long term solution. The new Aero-Fac® technology as supplied by Gurney Environmental will be more sustainable and has a much lower carbon footprint as it uses little energy and is able to treat the wastewater to an excellent standard."

Yorkshire Water’s Communications Advisor John Bond went on to say: “Our proposal is a step away from traditional treatment works and means we are opting for a much greener, more environmentally friendly option. The new proposal means construction times will be reduced, traffic movements can be minimised and once finished, the site will be virtually noise free. In addition, visual impacts and the risk of odour will be greatly reduced.”

Time-Proven Technologies

Yorkshire Water’s Bond continued: “Our existing facility in Hollym, near Withernsea needed to be replaced as it is now only 40 metres from the sea due to rapid coastal erosion in the area. By building a new treatment facility inland, we’re able to look at new, alternative options for treating the town's wastewater, and we feel Gurney Environmental’s experience and track record provide us with the best solution for both ourselves and our customers for the future.”

Several Unique Wastewater Treatment Solutions from Gurney Environmental

CLICK HERE to learn about our various low-energy wastewater treatment systems and options.


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Excellence & Awards

  • Net Zero Carbon Initiative Finalist
    Stantec & Yorkshire Water Finalists in 2023 Water Industry Awards for the Withernsea Aero-Fac® WwTP

  • ICE Award
    The Withernsea Aero-Fac® WwTP has won the 2023 Institution of Civil Engineering's Edmund Hambly Medal (Design for sustainable development).

  • Green 100
    Gurney Environmental has been named a Green 100 company for Norfolk and Suffolk, England.

  • Certificate of Accreditation
    Gurney Environmental has been awarded a certificate of accreditation within the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) having demonstrated compliance with and sound management of current basic health and safety legislation.

  • Business Award
    Gurney Environmental were awarded a finalists place in Eastern Daily News Business Awards 17, a UK regional newspaper's business awards event.

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