Fall 2023

HWEA will be the organization of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals
recognized for preserving and enhancing the water environment in the Pacific Island Region.

Jim Force, CWEA correspondent

The co-digestion and renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility at the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) has won Global Water Intelligence’s Global Water Award as the Wastewater Project of the Year.

Both the VVWRA and the provider of the co-digestion technology, Anaergia Inc., of Burlington, Ontario, were recognized at the award ceremony last May in Berlin, Germany. Anaergia was named the global Net Zero Carbon Champion.

The co-digestion facility is located at VVWRA’s 12 mg/d wastewater treatment plant in Victorville, California. It processes slurried food waste collected from commercial food producers and waste solids from the treatment plant’s primary and secondary processes. A total of 320,000 million BTUs of biogas is produced, which is then converted into renewable natural gas (RNG) and injected into a Southwest Gas pipeline for commercial distribution. The project was commissioned in 2022 and is North America’s largest privately financed co-digestion-to-biomethane project for pipeline injection at a wastewater treatment plant.

Digester upgrades

According to Kalin Westover, operations supervisor at VVWRA, about 110,000 gallons a day of primary solids and waste-activated sludge, and 50,000-60,000 gallons a day of slurried food waste, are co-digested through the system. He explains that Anaergia modified two large existing digesters and three smaller moth-balled digesters at the plant. The company added new mixing and thickening technology, interior coating of the digesters, and new storage tanks to increase holding capacity.

“They also upgraded the solids receiving stations and improved the gas handling system,” Westover says. “As a result, we are able to break down more organics and have increased gas production dramatically.”

The gas is collected, then scrubbed in a carbon-based filtration system run by Anaergia to rid it of impurities, bring it up to natural gas utility standards, and then inject it into the pipeline. VVWRA communications and safety manager David Wylie says the VVWRA is realizing an economic benefit from increased tipping fees and the sale of gas.

In addition, the VVWRA facility has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 72,000 tons per year, and the treatment plant has essentially eliminated its carbon footprint.

Public-Private Partnership

The two-year project was built as a Public-Private Partnership (P3). It was commissioned in January 2022 by Anaergia’s SoCal Biomethane subsidiary in partnership with VVWRA, North Sky Capital, and Live Oak Capital Partners. 

The award recognizes VVWRA’s work in complying with California’s SB 1383, requiring that organic materials like food waste be diverted from landfills.

 “We are deeply honored to receive this international recognition for the innovative work we are doing with our partners,” said VVWRA General Manager Darron Poulsen. “The project showcases how public agencies, utilities, and private businesses can come together to help resolve significant environmental challenges.”

Anaergia Project

Anaergia was created to eliminate a major source of greenhouse gases by cost-effectively turning organic waste into renewable natural gas, fertilizer, and water, using proprietary technologies. The company owns and operates some of the plants it builds, and it also operates plants that are owned by its customers.

In the VVWRA project, Anaergia provided a new receiving station for food slurry, a food waste buffer storage facility, its Omnivore® high solids digestion technology and OmniMix™ mixers, biogas conditioning, RNG membrane upgrading, and the RNG utility connection. The improvements enabled VVWRA to put into service 990,000 gallons of previously unused digester capacity. 

By being named the Net Zero Carbon Champion, the company was recognized for products and services that have done the most to reduce the carbon emissions of VVWRA and other partners around the globe.


The Global Award was established in 2006. It recognizes and rewards initiatives in the water, wastewater, and desalination sectors that are moving the industry forward. Each year, the awards are presented at the Global Water Summit, the major business conference for the water industry worldwide. The VVWRA project won out over significant entries from China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other parts of the world.  



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Hawai‘i Water Environment Association
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