Penn State owns and operates a wastewater treatment plant known as the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), which provides sanitary sewer service to a majority of the University Park campus and a portion of the State College Borough. The WRF is designed to treat up to 3 million gallons per day and utilizes the following wastewater treatment processes: grit removal, screening, primary clarification, activated sludge with biological nutrient removal, secondary clarification and chlorine disinfection. In Pennsylvania, the majority of wastewater treatment plants discharge the treated effluent directly to a surface water source such as a stream or river. However, the Penn State wastewater system is unique in that there is zero discharge to a stream. Since 1983, Penn State has been recycling all of its treated effluent through a land application system known as the Living Filter. The Living Filter is an active example of the University's long-standing commitment to sustainability.
- Living Filter Fact Sheet
- University MS4 Program
Wastewater Treatment FAQs
Please contact the Water Reclamation Facility at 814-865-5957 with additional questions.
Q: What is wastewater?
A: Wastewater is any water that can no longer be used for its original intended purpose. Potable water that can no longer be consumed can be wastewater.
Q: Why treat wastewater?
A: We treat wastewater so it does not contaminate receiving streams. As a society, we have decided that as a goal, all natural water should be fishable and swimmable.
Q: What is the plant capacity?
A: The Penn State design capacity is 3.0 million gallons per day.
Q: How is the Penn State plant different?
A: Penn State demonstrates its commitment to sustainability through replenishing the regional groundwater by spray irrigating all effluent.
Q: How is wastewater treated?
A: Depending on what the intended use of the water is, the treatment process will vary. Generally, wastewater to be discharged to receiving streams is treated to remove solids, biochemical oxygen demand and nutrients that cause excessive vegetative growth.
Q: Does Penn State football affect the Water Reclamation Facility?
A: Penn State football games have virtually no effect on the plant.
Q: Who owns the Water Reclamation Facility on University Drive?
A: The WRF on University Drive is owned and operated by Penn State.
Q: What do you do with your sludge?
A: The University tries to always utilize the most cost effective treatment methods. Currently, landfilling is our most cost effective method for disposing stabilized sludge. We do not sell sludge to the public.
Q: How much gas is generated?
A: The amount of gas generated depends on the loading to the digesters. Typically, when the students are on campus, we generate about 40,000 cubic feet of gas per day.
Q: Is there a University policy on what can be discharged into the sanitary sewer?
A: Yes, please refer to Penn State Policy SY40 Disposal of Pollutants in University Sanitary Systems and Division 33 30 00 of the Penn State Design and Construction Standards. Any questions should be emailed to Garry Beck, Wastewater Utility Supervisor, at [email protected].