City of Ukiah
United States Recycled Water

LG Sonic ultrasound transforms the City of Ukiah's recycled water system

Nestled in California, the City of Ukiah faces the environmental challenge of historical droughts. With a diminishing water supply, reliance on the recycled water system has become crucial. The City of Ukiah is now pivoting towards more production of recycled water to meet its residents’ needs, targeting a production increase from 1,000 to 1,500 acre-feet by 2024. Recognizing the need to maintain this water free from algal blooms, the City of Ukiah implemented the LG Sonic ultrasound solution in the form of MPC-Buoys in July, 2021.

Project summary

Successful algae control

ultrasound keeps algae under control in 66 million-gallon recycled ponds

Reduction in chemical usage

chemical savings of 92% in Copper Sulfate and a 68% reduction in Blue Dye usage

Exceptional water quality

less chemical reliance, fewer interruptions, and reduced customer callouts

The mega water project

As traditional water sources continue to decrease, the City of Ukiah’s recycled water system has witnessed a soaring demand. Sean White, the city’s Director of Water and Sewer Resources, addressed the Ukiah City Council on July 7, 2021, stating, “We distributed 13 million gallons of recycled water, literally four times as much recycled water as surface water, in one week.”

Currently, around 30 percent of Ukiah’s water comes from its advanced recycled water facility. This system includes almost 8 miles of pipelines, three reservoirs that can hold 66 million gallons of water, modern treatment facilities, and improved water and wastewater infrastructure. This robust infrastructure empowers the City of Ukiah to supply approximately 325 million gallons of water annually to farmers, parks, and schools.

Algal blooms and clogged filters

The high nutrient levels combined with rising temperatures pose a significant threat to the water quality of recycled water stored in reservoirs, leading to the frequent growth of algal blooms. These blooms have posed a persistent challenge in the ponds that serve as a vital water source for the community.

Primarily used for agricultural purposes such as vineyard irrigation, the recycled water has become invaluable to residents. However, troublesome algae often clogged filters and disrupted farmers’ sprinkler systems, causing disruptions in essential agricultural activities. Frequent backwashing became a common necessity, further hampering the efficient operation of these systems.

Solar-powered algae control

To combat the algae problem, Ukiah turned to LG Sonic’s ultrasound solution, deploying MPC-Buoys in each recycled pond in 2021. This innovative system uses low-power ultrasound waves to prevent algae from surfacing, depriving them of both sunlight and essential nutrients. As a result, the algae sink to the bottom and naturally die, all without releasing harmful toxins into the water.

“The system is remarkably self-sustaining and requires minimal maintenance. The solar power source has performed exceptionally well, and the results achieved have been nothing short of astonishing,” attested Vince Martinez, the Maintenance and Repair Officer for the City of Ukiah.

The system’s exclusive reliance on solar power seamlessly aligns with the principles of sustainability and eco-friendliness, values highly cherished by the City of Ukiah community. By embracing the innovative LG Sonic ultrasound technology, the City of Ukiah is not only combating algae but also transitioning to a more environmentally responsible approach in managing water quality.

Chemical use reductions

In the past, to address the algae issue, the City of Ukiah resorted to chemicals like Copper Sulfate and Blue Dye in its recycled ponds. However, with a renewed focus on sustainability, the city realized that an overreliance on chemicals was far from ideal.

With algae growth now under control, Ukiah has made significant strides in reducing chemical usage. In 2023, the city achieved substantial cost savings, with a 92% reduction in Copper Sulfate consumption and a 68% decrease in Blue Dye usage.

Sean White highlighted the benefits of the LG Sonic technology, stated, “What I liked about this solution is that LG Sonic technology is entirely chemical-free and eco-friendly. It doesn’t harm aquatic life, and it precisely targets the problematic algae. These environmentally friendly aspects are truly appealing.”

Exceptional water quality

Since the installation, there has been a notable enhancement in the water quality of the reservoir. Vince Martinez has observed a substantial improvement in the recycled water’s quality, attributed to reduced reliance on chemicals and fewer service interruptions.

“In the previous year, we often had to respond to service requests due to algae-related blockages, especially during the warm months. However, this year, I’ve only had to address one such issue,” Vince recounted. Routine maintenance inspections have also shown a decrease in the accumulation of algae.

Mike Hildreth, a satisfied user, shared, “In the past, my sprinklers would frequently get jammed due to algae. This season, such occurrences are rare, and the water quality has been excellent.”

In conclusion, the LG Sonic ultrasound solution has not only provided clean water but has transformed the way the City of Ukiah manages its recycled water system, making it easier for every customer.

A new era in sustainable water management

While water recycling is relatively new in the region, the improved quality of recycled water has gained trust and acceptance across various sectors. On October 5, 2023, Ukiah’s ‘purple pipe’ project celebrated a momentous milestone by providing one billion gallons of reused water since its inception. Sean White underscored the importance of establishing trust and confidence in the quality of their product, highlighting the pivotal role this LG Sonic ultrasound technology has played in achieving that goal.

Sean concluded, “I’ve seen many people struggling with algae issues in stored water, especially in warm climates like ours. It’s surprising that some still prefer older methods when there’s a simpler and environmentally friendly LG Sonic ultrasound technology readily available.”


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