One of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, Boracay Island, can now protect its beaches through an innovative solution that treats wastewater effluent without chemicals used for chlorination and dechlorination, while reducing energy and treatment costs.
Boracay is a small island in the Philippines famous for its beautiful, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water. Although the island has a population of about 30,000, more than one million tourists visit the island annually. Tourism over the years took its toll on the island, leading to severely polluted waters and beaches.
In April 2018, the Philippine government decided to close the island for six months to overhaul its environmental processes and systems. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources implemented several measures to improve environmental practices on the island, including clean-ups and stricter regulations for cleaner water and sustainable tourism.
One of the most critical reforms on the island was removing the chlorination process at the island’s Balabag Sewage Treatment Plant. Boracay Island Water Company (Boracay Water), operator of the treatment plant, had been using a chlorination process to disinfect treated wastewater before it was discharged into the sea. This process, however, left residual chlorine in the effluent, which negatively impacted the marine environment. Chlorine can react with organic materials in water to form disinfection byproducts, such as trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids and chloramines, that can be harmful to humans and marine life.
Finding a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources mandated that Boracay Water limit the discharge of residual chlorine and chemical byproducts in the treated effluent. At first, Boracay Water added a dechlorination process prior to releasing effluent to the sea, but the operator soon realized this was a costly solution. The chlorination and dechlorination treatment processes required that chemicals must be transported to the island, which was expensive and logistically challenging.
Boracay Water contacted Xylem to find a better solution and decided to use UV irradiation for wastewater disinfection. Xylem’s Wedeco UV system LBX850e was installed at the treatment plant to replace the chlorination and dechlorination processes. The closed-vessel pressured UV system disinfects around 270 cubic meters of water per hour.
It is the first UV system installed on Boracay Island, and it immediately improved water effluent quality.
Xylem’s Wedeco LBX UV systems employ low-pressure, high-output, amalgam Ecoray UV lamps and ballasts. Used in combination with the variable power option, the Ecoray technology results in excellent energy efficiency under all operating conditions. Particularly in dimmed mode, they can realize average energy savings of up to 20% compared to existing UV technologies.
Surpassing disinfection targets with less complications
Since the UV system’s installation, Boracay Water has met and surpassed its disinfection targets. The operator no longer has to deal with the previous logistical challenges of transporting chemicals, and the new system is also easier to operate and maintain. The plant reduced its operating costs significantly by no longer having to purchase chemicals for disinfection and through the built-in energy efficiency of the Wedeco system.
"We are truly happy to have replaced the chlorination process with UV irradiation treatment,” says Jacquelyn Maquirang, Used Water Operations Manager, Boracay Island Water Company. “Xylem’s solution helped us meet our disinfection targets and reduce our operational costs due to the elimination of chemical transportation and the very low energy consumption of the Wedeco system."
"Most importantly, we can now provide our community with a sustainable solution for wastewater effluent discharge, without any negative effects on the sea environment."
"With Xylem’s UV solution, Boracay Water has minimized the concentrations of harmful chlorine byproducts in the plant’s effluent,” says Peer Krueger, Global Product Manager UV at Xylem. “UV disinfection as an ideal treatment solution for communities looking to reduce chemical use and protect their environments."