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Water Utility to Save $200K per Year by Turning Human Waste to Energy

Following on the recent news that the United Kingdom could see 15 percent of its energy generated by human waste by 2020, the city of San Antonio has just opened the first-ever "poo-powered gas plant" in the United States.

That's what the the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is calling the plant in its press release. Seriously.

The biogas plant is a partnership between SAWS and utility company Ameresco. Through the deal, Ameresco will capture the biogas generated during the process of treating raw sewage and sell it on the open market.

Ameresco will generate at least 900,000 cubic feet of biomethane and give a royalty on sales of the energy back to SAWS. The Water System expects to save at least $200,000 a year through the process, both from the royalty of the sales from Ameresco and from a reduction in sewage treatment costs.

"SAWS is constantly improving its operations to become more sustainable, and this project is a sound investment for our environment and our community," Robert R. Puente, the president and CEO of SAWS, said in a statement. "By reusing biogas instead of burning it off, we are helping protect the city's air quality and developing a renewable energy resource."

The opening of the biogas facility means that SAWS is recycling and reusing almost all of the waste coming into its Dos Rios Water Recycling Center in what SAWS calls a "recycling trifecta."

In addition to generating energy from the methane, SAWS is making compost frmo the biosolids, and recycling as much as 115 million gallons of water per day for reuse in the San Antonio area.

Photo illustration by the GreenBiz editorial staff -- that is not the real SAWS logo.

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