Created By: New York State Water Resource Institute
The Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility was founded in 1987 and serves the City of Ithaca, the Town of Ithaca, and parts of the Town of Dryden. Everyday the facility treats around 6.5 million gallons of wastewater. This is enough water to fill roughly 10 Olympic sized swimming pools. The facility does so through preliminary, primary, secondary and tertiary treatment. From the front gate you may see the secondary settling tanks on the left and the solids handling building on the right, adjacent to the main building. The IAWWTF is placed near Cayuga Lake because when the facility is done treating the effluents, it is diffused into Cayuga Lake through a half mile long pipe. Conveniently, this location also has the lowest elevation in the surrounding area, allowing the facility to utilize gravity to transport the water. While the facility’s low elevation helps save on energy costs, it does make the facility susceptible to flooding.
One problem that many water treatment facilities have recently been faced with is its disposal of biosolids. Biosolids are the phosphorus and nitrogen rich sludge left after treatment. Many people advocate to use biosolids as fertilizers, but others are concerned with the ecological impacts of this due to heavy metals and recent emerging contaminants such as antibiotics. Despite this popular issues, IAWWTF excels in its usage of methanogenic bacteria. Methanogenic bacteria help to remediate the wastewater while producing methane, a biogas. This methane, stored in the large white bulbous tank, is then burned for energy. Burning methane allows the facility to cogenerate heat, cutting down on the facility’s energy costs.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Year of Water - City of Ithaca Tour