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Brookhaven National Laboratory Advanced Wastewater Filtration System

Forward-thinking filtration project exceeds state requirements and protects a treasured natural resource.

  • Aerial view of the sewage treatment plant and groundwater recharge basins - Gannett Fleming.

    The facility provides a tertiary level of treatment and routes effluent to groundwater recharge basins. 

  • The exterior of a pre-engineered steel building - Gannett Fleming.

    Filtration occurs within a pre-engineered steel building with a cast-in-place concrete foundation.

  • The treatment plant’s final polishing filters - Gannett Fleming.

    Final polishing filters remove metals and suspended solids to a safe and acceptable standard.

  • Four groundwater recharge basins are shown - Gannett Fleming.

    Treated effluent is introduced to the groundwater via four recharge basins totaling more than 60,000 sq. ft. in area.

Brookhaven National Laboratory Under Contract to the U.S. Department of Energy

P.W. Grosser Consulting

Upton, New York

Our Role
Final Design

0.60 mgd
Construction Cost
$4 million
New Construction
3 years, 3 months
  • Achieved permit compliance by eliminating the discharge of effluent into the river
  • Employed the use of existing infrastructure, which saved $250,000
  • Provides long-term protection for an estuary of national significance
  • Helps prevent the spread of waterborne illness among the public.

Home to a vibrant community of plants and animals, the Peconic River is a thriving ecological habitat and a significant source of recreation for residents on Long Island, New York. The Peconic watershed begins just 60 miles east of New York City, with headwaters that start at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). The BNL campus includes its own sewage treatment plant (STP), adjacent to the Peconic River. For years, the STP had been discharging treated effluent to the river, under special permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). As part of a comprehensive initiative to protect the Peconic and its estuary, in 2009, NYSDEC issued a modified permit to BNL, calling for a reduction of metals in the effluent. The goal—to reduce impacts on aquatic organisms and improve water quality in the Peconic.

Working closely with BNL and P.W. Grosser Consulting, Gannett Fleming developed an innovative solution that exceeded the state’s Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements. It included plans to treat the wastewater, completely reroute it away from the river, and safely deliver it to groundwater recharge basins.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming led all design efforts related to the project’s cornerstone—an inside-out cloth disc filtration system that provides tertiary treatment for BNL’s wastewater. Inside-out filters remove metals and suspended solids from wastewater, preparing it for groundwater recharging. They offer a larger filter surface area, reduce pumping energy requirements, and allow observation during operation. The new disc system can accommodate future flow increases within the existing facility footprint.

To fully address the river’s long-term protection, the team rerouted the effluent instead of simply applying traditional treatment technology. Site selection for the recharge basins required detailed knowledge of groundwater hydraulic conditions, flow patterns, and suitable soils. Careful study revealed that a former World War I-era recharge area near the BNL’s sewage plant could be used, saving the owner $150,000. The plan also allowed all upgrades to the plant to blend seamlessly with the existing infrastructure and be implemented without taking the system offline.

Key Features

  • Pre-engineered steel building to house the filtration system
  • 2,000 sq. ft. concrete foundation, access platforms, and equipment supports
  • Two tertiary filters with backwash pumping systems
  • Tertiary filter influent and effluent piping with bypass overflows and isolation valves
  • Effluent monitoring station with a Parshall flume to monitor effluent flows
  • Electrical system, including underground power feeders, control wiring and electrical switchgear, motor control center, and electrical panel boards 
  • A standby generator for potential power failure.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Modifications to the plant allow approximately 70 percent of the potable water consumed at BNL to be recycled and recharged to the groundwater
  • Environmentally responsible materials and systems, such as energy-efficient motors, lighting systems, and building heating systems, yielded an energy savings of 10 percent, compared to standard baseline practices
  • Recharge beds were sited such that effluent from the new filter building flows by gravity over a 1,700-ft. run, which avoids the use of effluent pumps and translates into an energy savings of 10 percent.

Awards & Recognition

  • Gold Award, 2017, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, Engineering Excellence Awards.

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