As Hurricane Harvey was unleashing its fury upon Texas, a Houston-area municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) saw its multi-million-gallons-per-day average flow rate surge 600% to a peak flow that lasted for a full 24 hours. A Drylet customer, the plant wasn’t washed out and remained in compliance.

“In almost 40 years on the job, I’ve never seen any product deliver the kind of amazing results we have seen with Drylet: we didn’t lose any sludge at all,” said the plant operator on condition of anonymity. “I’ve seen this plant washed out before, but never since we started using Drylet’s product three years ago,” he added.

Drylet is a Houston-based wastewater remediation technology company. Its proprietary biocatalysts — engineered porous particles loaded with beneficial bacteria — provide 12 football fields of solid area covered with microbes per pound of product. This translates into 100 times the microbial density per gram of any regular liquid culture. Protected by the particles, the microbes reproduce at an accelerated rate, feeding off the organic waste in a frenzy, and ultimately converting more solids into water and gas. They help reduce biosolids by up to 50 percent. Their action also leads to a more compact sludge that is significantly more resilient in the event of a flow increase — even as large as the one Drylet’s customer experienced during Harvey.

Reseeding a Washed Out Plant Quickly

“A washed out plant is disastrous. You fall out of compliance, and you have to reseed the plant,” the plant operator pointed out.

Because Drylet’s unique solution requires no capital expenditures and can be deployed instantly, the company is no stranger to bringing WWTPs back online quickly after a catastrophic water event or other failure has severely compromised their microbial community. For instance, the plant at Trinity, Texas, ran into significant problems with its oxidation ditch facility when both its aeration rotors failed. In the absence of dissolved oxygen in the system, biological activity was declining quickly. After about two weeks, the plant was on the cusp of going septic.  Rather than hauling activated sludge from another facility to revive the microbial community, operator Charles Paige simply added Drylet’s Aqua Assist product to the aeration basins, and the microbial activity was revived within 24 hours. The plant was fully operational in a fraction of the time, and for a fraction of the cost, that the traditional sludge-import approach would have required.

After Harvey’s torrential downpour stopped, Drylet’s team reached out to the local wastewater treatment plants to offer assistance. “With the plants flooded or washed out, we potentially have a sanitation crisis on our hands. The only solution is to revive microbial communities in the plant and bring the food-to-mass ratio back in balance as quickly as possible,” said Gary Tomlinson, Drylet’s Texas Sales Manager.

Recognized by a WEF 2017 Innovative Technology Award, Drylet’s technology will be featured at WEFTEC Innovation Pavilion in Chicago.