Monthly Archives: March 2020

Does Wastewater Treatment Remove Viruses From the Water?

One of the important goals of water treatment is to remove viruses. In history, there have been horrible viral outbreaks that were transmitted through water. One happened in 2016 in India. While the exact source was never determined, it was believed water from a hotel’s well was the source. More than 220 cases of hepatitis A were linked to the hotel and that the patients had all had ice or water or foods that were kept on ice from that specific hotel.

This leads to questions. Does wastewater treatment effectively remove viruses from public drinking water? One specific worry involves COVID-19. Does water treatment kill coronaviruses and other dangerous viruses like hepatitis and norovirus? Rest assured, water treatment regulations take viruses into consideration. Here’s what you need to know.

Protections Set by The Safe Drinking Water Act

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 established stringent guidelines to help protect drinking water throughout the U.S. By definition, any water system that provides drinking water for 25 or more or that has 15 connections and provides that water for at least two months per year are considered public water systems. There are more than 150,000 public water systems in the U.S. All of them must meet the EPA’s national standards.

Microbial sources are part of the contaminants that water treatment plants must treat and test for. If the contaminant levels are high, boil water orders or other warnings must go out to people on that water system. The list of microbial contaminants is long, but it includes these common viruses:

  • Adenoviruses, such as pink eye or an upper respiratory infection like bronchitis
  • Calciviruses, such as norovirus
  • Enterovirus, such as coxsackievirus and poliovirus
  • Hepatitis A

Information regarding COVID-19 is still coming in, but at this point, the CDC believes that coronaviruses are not transmitted through the water. WHO has yet to find any trace of COVID-19 in drinking water supplies before or after treatments. While COVID-19 has been found in fecal matter, the water treatment measures like filtration and disinfection kill that virus just as it successfully kills other viruses. WHO states that any water treatment plan with “conventional, centralized water treatment methods which use filtration and disinfection” are enough to kill coronaviruses. It’s not something people need to worry about as U.S. wastewater treatment plants use filtration and disinfection.

What Does This Mean For a Water Treatment Plant?

Every step a water treatment plant takes to rid wastewater of other viruses is taking care of the less common coronaviruses like COVID-19, MERS, and SARS. If you look at the steps that most water treatments plant use, there are different stages starting with the moment the wastewater arrives until it returns to a body of water or public water supply. Think of a typical water pitcher system like Brita. Water flows into a reservoir where it slowly trickles through activated charcoal filters to remove odors, bacteria, and some other contaminants. That’s similar to the filtration process in a water treatment plant.

The same happens in a water treatment system. Wastewater comes into the plant where screens, clarification, and filtration equipment work together to clean the water. Filters or filtration materials remove other contaminants in one of two ways. One way is to place the activated carbon filters for post-filtration cleaning after the rapid mix, flocculation/sedimentation, and filtration steps before water moves on. The other way takes place in a filtration tank where the charcoal sits in the bottom of a tank and filters out contaminants and odors after rapid mix and flocculation/sedimentation.

While many water treatment systems use charcoal or activated charcoal, some may use sand, coconut fibers, or other materials to capture bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and parasites. This is the first of two important steps. The second step involves the addition of a chemical disinfectant like chlorine that kills any remaining bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

The two most common disinfectants used by a water treatment plant are chloramine or chlorine. Chloramines are a mix of ammonia and chlorine and have been used since the 1920s. Water treatment plants specifically use monochloramine, which kills germs without causing eye, respiratory, or skin irritation. Monochloramine is safe to consume.

Chlorine is also a top choice of water treatment plants. It was first used in a New Jersey water treatment plant in 1908. It’s a bleach that can be harmful in high doses, but the amount that remains after processing wastewater is minimal and considered safe to consume. UV and sunlight help remove the excess chemicals used in the water disinfection step.

Avoid Frequent Repairs or Equipment Failures Through Plant Upgrades

One issue water treatment plants have seen with COVID-19 is the increased use of paper supplies other than toilet paper. With toilet paper shortages, people started using tissues, paper towels, baby wipes, and napkins in place. Public awareness campaigns are essential to keeping people from flushing these items into their septic systems or sewer lines. These items can cause blocked lines and put more strain on equipment. If you’re experiencing problems and need repairs, Lakeside Equipment does supply parts for necessary repairs.

Water treatment regulations change regularly as the EPA reviews the current list of contaminants every five years. To ensure your system is removing viruses and other contaminants, you must make sure your system meets the current regulations. When changes are made, we can help you go over your current system and see if any improvements are needed. If your old system needs a complete update, we have engineers available to design new plans that fit your space and budget.

Upgraded equipment helps a water treatment plant process wastewater effectively and efficiently. Replacing outdated equipment may cost some money upfront, but it also saves money in terms of electricity costs and repairs in the long run. It ensures you meet the current EPA regulations. Let Lakeside Equipment help you plan upgrades that make sense for your water treatment plant and meet your budget.

What Is the Difference Between Wastewater and Stormwater?

You probably understand the basic differences between wastewater and stormwater. It can be harder to understand the differences in how they are handled within a town or city setting. Stormwater may eventually make its way to a water treatment plant, but it’s not through the sewer as you’d imagine. Wastewater is handled differently. It is not meant to get into bodies of water without first being treated.

What is Wastewater?

Wastewater is the liquid that comes from showers, washing machines, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, dishwashers, and other items that handle dirty water. That water travels through pipes into a sewer or septic tank. If it goes into a septic tank, an effluent filter keeps solids from getting into the pipes and creating blockages in the pipes leading to the leach field. The water that goes to the leach field filters naturally through the soil, sand, and bedroom before going into underground water sources. The remaining sludge and solids stay in the tank where it must be pumped out every three to five years, depending on the number of residents, and trucked to a plant.

For homes and businesses within a water district that has sewer lines, the water travels through the sewer lines to the sewer system. There it travels to that district’s water treatment plant.

It doesn’t matter if that wastewater gets there through sewer lines or is trucked in by companies that drain business and residential septic tanks. That wastewater goes directly to the wastewater treatment plant to be cleaned before it’s released to a body of water or into storage tanks.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is rain, snowmelt, and ice melt that occurs after a storm or on a warmer day in the winter or spring. In a rural or wooded area, that water is typically absorbed back into the ground. In a city, you have pavement and concrete that prevent the water from reaching the soil. It has to go somewhere, so storm drains, ditches, and pipes help handle the water.

People see storm drains in a city and assume it all winds up in a sewer. The reality is that there are different systems in place to handle wastewater and stormwater. After a storm or sudden snow/ice melt, the water you see flooding into a storm drain goes into a drainage system that returns that untreated water to rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds.

One of the problems with untreated water going into a body of water is that it hasn’t been cleaned. That water can pick up contaminants like road salt, vehicle fluids, trash, and agricultural fertilizers and pesticides and end up in the water. This triggers an adverse reaction by causing things like algae blooms to take over and pollute a water source. People should take precautions to prevent these contaminants from getting into storm drains or ditches.

There is that chance that the river, lake, pond, or another body of water feeds into a water treatment plant. For example, if your city draws water from the nearby lake to be used as water in public businesses and homes within the water district, the stormwater that travels into that lake would eventually reach the water treatment plant. There, it would be cleaned, treated, and eventually make its way through pipes to homes and businesses.

What Happens at the Water Treatment Plant?

Collection and pumping are the first stages of a water treatment plan. Sewage is collected and cleared of large objects through screens. The size of the screens will change to trap smaller and smaller items. After this, it is allowed to settle in a grit chamber where sand and other fine particles are allowed to settle. They’re removed and taken to a landfill.

The wastewater moves to tanks where the sludge and solids settle and removed. Depending on the water treatment plant, that sludge and waste may end up in a plant that heats it to kill the bacteria and process it into fertilizer. The remaining wastewater now moves into a secondary treatment. At this stage, oxygen is added to the remaining wastewater to encourage microorganisms to use up the remaining waste. By the time this process ends, as much as 90% of the waste and chemical pollutants are gone.

What remains is disinfected with chemical agents and processed further to make sure the chemicals used to sanitize the water are below the levels recommended by the government. Some wastewater treatment plants use UV lighting to help with this process. Once the water is safe for reuse or bodies of water, it travels to water storage tanks where it ends up at area homes and businesses or it is piped into the lake, river, stream, etc.

Would you like help coming up with a wastewater treatment system that helps protect your district? Does your inefficient system need upgrading? Lakeside Equipment has decades of expertise in designing and installing efficient, cost-effective water treatment systems. Give us a call or send an email to learn more.

How to Evaluate Wastewater Treatment Manufacturers

With so many wastewater treatment equipment manufacturers, how do you know which company is best? What makes one company better than all of the rest? Use this guide to help decide how to choose the wastewater treatment manufacturer and equipment that will best suit your needs and budget.

Study the Local, State, and Federal Laws

Before you even start calling wastewater treatment manufacturers, you need to come up with an exact list of your plant’s needs. Start by looking at the local, state, and federal laws that apply to the water you’re treating and either sending back to homes or into a body of water.

In addition to the laws, pay attention to the fines you face if you get something wrong. If your equipment can’t handle the flood of water coming in after heavy rain and some effluent is released into a body of water without being properly treated, you face fines. Those fines could negatively impact your water treatment plant.

What Wastewater Are You Cleaning and Treating?

Once you understand the laws, think about the wastewater you’ll be treating Have you completed a study of the wastewater you’ll be treating? This is necessary if you want to have the best understanding of the wastewater contaminants. Are you going to be cleaning storm runoff more than waste pumped from residential septic systems? Are you going to process a lot of residential septic system waste? Will you have wastewater coming from industrial plants or is it mainly residential? Is the wastewater from a restaurant district going to leave you treating a lot of oily water? Is the water loaded with inorganic contaminants?

Knowing the type of wastewater is going to help you in the long run. If you’re getting water from septic systems or sewers that may have items that must be removed, such as tampon applicators or condoms, you’ll need screens and trash or screen rakes to get these items out of the way before they cause problems farther down the line. Wastewater coming in from street runoff will have stones, small branches, and trash that also needs to be removed.

Picking the Best Wastewater Treatment Manufacturer

Once you have decided what equipment is needed, you need to narrow down your choices for manufacturers. You’ll have a budget, so the cost is going to be a driving factor. You don’t want too cheap. Saving money doesn’t always mean you’re getting equipment that lasts, just as spending more doesn’t guarantee a lifetime of dependability.

Look for manufacturers who sell wastewater treatment equipment where the moving parts are not submerged. This can cut maintenance costs. If the parts are never exposed to water, they’re not likely to degrade due to corrosion or mineral build-up from the water. They’re also not exposed to grit.

You need to consider the space you have. For example, when it comes to a grit collection system, Lakeside’s SpiraGrit Vortex Grit Chamber needs less space than the Lakeside Aeroductor. You’ll have effective equipment without overcrowding your site.

Ask the companies on your shortlist to share wastewater treatment plants they’ve designed and installed. If you can see photos of completed projects and read reports of the water quality, cost-effectiveness, and flow rates, it can help you see that the water treatment results you want can be a reality.

Finally, look at the wastewater treatment manufacturer’s history. A company that has decades of experience is going to be more knowledgeable than someone just starting out. An established company is going to have a large network of distributors available so that you don’t have to wait for parts or equipment to be available.

Choose Wisely and You’ll Have an Efficient, Effective System

This all takes time and has to be carefully planned. If you take the time to consider these factors, you’ll have the best possible insight into the type of wastewater equipment you need. It helps you avoid fines down the road from an inefficient system. You also have a system that is cost-effective as it will be designed to last a long time while being energy-efficient and need little maintenance.

Back in 1928, Lakeside Equipment Corporation was founded to help North American municipalities and companies establish water purification systems. The focus has always been on providing systems that efficiently and effectively clean and treat wastewater so that it’s safe, clean water for people to consume or so that it can be returned to natural water sources without fear of introducing bacteria and contaminants.

We’ve had close to a century of experience in wastewater treatment. We know how to evaluate a wastewater treatment manufacture and make sure our customers are choosing the right equipment for their budgets and water treatment needs. Give us a call and let us know how we can help.