Murfreesboro Water & Sewer Department name change reflects new resources, ‘One Water’ mindset


Photo courtesy of Murfreesboro Water Resources Department

The City of Murfreesboro Water & Sewer Department recently changed its name in an effort to better reflect the new resources the department utilizes and the way that water is being used throughout the city.

The newly titled “Murfreesboro Water Resources Department” will place more emphasis on how the city’s water can be used as a clean and recyclable product rather than simply a utility and waste system, according to MWRD Director Darren Gore.

“The reason behind the name change was to place a more positive outlook on how our department views water, as a recyclable, beneficial resource,” Gore said. “The term ‘sewer’ connotes a ‘waste’ product, and, while that is true through the collection process, we ultimately treat the sewer to a very high quality … It can be released beneficially to the West Fork Stones River and actually enhance the stream or be used as a source for irrigation on several facilities and private development in the City. Prior to the name change, at our ‘wastewater’ plant, the plant manager would say, ‘This is the only production plant that is named for what comes into it, not what it actually produces.’ This is why we changed the name from ‘wastewater plant’ to a ‘water resource recovery facility.’ The new name more accurately fits the function it performs and the product it produces.”

One of the factors that led to the name change was the concept of “One Water” and how it has affected the way that the department views its resources.

“’One Water’ is a way of describing how water is fully recyclable,” Gore said. “The process mother nature utilizes to recycle water is now becoming more and more affordable using engineered systems and processes. We think the One Water term will influence our culture’s acceptance of allowing engineered systems to enhance natural systems that produce clean water.  ‘One Water’ also promotes the ‘right water for the right use’ thinking.  For example, water that is treated to the level for drinking should not have to be used for irrigation.  This is an example of ‘over-treating’ water for its final designated use. Water that is (irrigated) can be treated to a lesser quality at a lesser expense.”
According to a City of Murfreesboro press release, the ‘One Water’ term originated in western portions of America where water shortages forced many to alter the use of water. However, the concept has been transformed and adopted by organizations and services such as MWRD to illustrate the broader use of water that technology now allows. The press release also states that Murfreesboro was recognized as having a Utility of the Future by a consortium of national water sector organizations in October 2016. The UOTF program recognizes performance and technological progress of wastewater utilities.

“A UOTF is a utility that embraces the paradigm shifts of the future,” Gore said.

Gore stated that some of these shifts that make the department a UOTF include the shift from being “handlers of wastewater” to “managers of sustainable resources,” and the shift from having “engineers designing treatment plants” to having “regional planners of weather resilient, green communities.”

MWRD will continue to put forth efforts to manage and recover valuable resources, according to Gore. One of the resources that the department wishes to utilize in the future will be multi-purpose biosolids.

“MWRD is moving forward for recognition in the future in the areas of beneficial biosolids reuse and community partnering and engagement,” Gore said.

A biosolid is organic matter recycled from sewage that is primarily used for agricultural needs. They are often used to improve soil that has been damaged due to improper management. MWRD plans to partner with agricultural experts to make effective use of biosolids in Murfreesboro.

“MWRD expects to recapture biosolids and treat them to a level that they can be used as a soil amendment,” Gore said. “By using a time and temperature equation, all pathogenic bacteria are destroyed in the biosolids at the plant, and the final product can be land-applied and reintroduce phosphorous and nitrogen to the soil. By putting these nutrients back in the soil, growing conditions are optimized and greater crop yields are witnessed … We hope to partner with the local agricultural community in the upcoming years to offer this beneficial product for their use.”

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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