A wastewater treatment plant is only as good as it’s designed to be. If you cut corners and fail to consider growth, demand, and equipment durability, you end up wasting money. If you try to get the system constructed and up and running too quickly, it’s just as likely that costly issues will arise.
The EPA estimates that pre-construction alone can take up almost three years. Construction can take up to five years. The larger the plant, the longer it can take. This is why it’s important to partner with an expert in wastewater treatment plant construction with each step.
Five Steps to a Wastewater Treatment Plant Construction
Any wastewater construction project has five key steps. It starts with initial research and project planning and progresses to getting land and permits, construction, and testing operations. It sounds simple, but each of these steps is complex and must be carefully completed.
#1 – Initial Research
Prior to any wastewater treatment plant project, you need to do your research. You need to look into your available funds through grants, loans, etc. The system you design needs to provide the capacity you need. If your plant will be supporting 35,000 homes and businesses, you have to think about the land that’s currently being developed. Talk to town managers and zoning boards to see what goals have been set when it comes to development.
How many households or businesses will your system be supporting a year, five years, or a decade from now? It’s better to plan larger than needed to avoid having a system that’s at capacity and needs upgrades before you’ve paid off any loans and can comfortably afford upgrades without drastically increasing the fees or taxes those in your wastewater district have to pay.
Your plant will need power. Do you want to have solar panels added to help power the plant? Will you be incorporating boilers that can burn the solid waste that’s removed during water treatment? Burning the leftover solids can slash your heating bills and save money. If you’re being connected to the local power grid, make sure you’ve talked to them about costs and how to run lines from the nearest poles and substation to your new plant.
You also need to install roads. You need to see where the best access points are to main roads and do traffic studies to see if the extra traffic will cause traffic jams. You also have to make sure that trucks hauling waste from homes and businesses with septic systems aren’t going to be overweight.
Finally, look at where there is enough available land for a wastewater treatment plant. You may not be able to build it where you first hoped if there is no land for sale or lease. While looking at availability, you also have to stop and think about the pros and cons of buying the land outright versus leasing it.
#2 – Project Planning
You need to hold meetings with shareholders, government agencies, and owners to discuss a budget. Go over possible delays and issues and figure out the best ways to address problems. If you have a plan in place, an unexpected issue with weather, permits, or illness can quickly be resolved.
While figuring out the budget, you also want to consider how much the people in the district can afford in extra taxes. If you can find ways to save money, it helps them out. They’re less likely to be upset by the cost of a new plant if the impact on their living expenses isn’t great.
What types of wastewater will your plant handle? Will you also be dealing with storm runoff? Is it only going to be piped in from the sewer system or will you have a hauled waste receiving system, too? Maybe you need both? Do you want to pick and choose the equipment that’s installed or would an all-in-one system like a Raptor Complete Plant be better for your needs?
You can take time researching all of the equipment, flow rates, and capacities on your own, but will you understand all of the intricate differences. That’s why it’s better to hire engineers that specialize in wastewater treatment to help you make these decisions.
As you go through all of this, create checklists to follow during the permitting and construction phase. You’ll go over these checklists with the company you hire to help you with the construction and installation of your wastewater treatment plant.
#3 – Permits
You have your plans in place. The budget is set and funds are available. You’ve chosen the company you want, and they’ve lined up engineers and technicians to work with you. Before construction can start, permits must be acquired. Not only do you need building permits from the town or city, but you also have to have permits from the EPA.
The EPA is going to set limits on how much untreated sewage is allowed to be discharged if storm runoff levels are higher than expected. A Pollution Abatement Facility Operator License is needed. Your wastewater treatment plant will need to be classified depending on if it is low flow or high flow.
#4 – Construction
With a new wastewater treatment plant, you’re not just constructing the plant. You’re also creating the roads that lead to your plant, getting utilities connected, and putting in any additional buildings that are needed for storage or administrative functions.
Someone needs to keep the project on schedule. You’ll have engineers working with construction managers to make sure workers stay on track. If there are going to be delays, you’ll need to understand why. Every day of extra labor and delays will eat into your budget. It doesn’t take long before you’re running over the budget and struggling to come up with the extra funds.
#5 – Testing Operations
Once the wastewater treatment plant’s construction is done. You have to run tests to ensure everything is running. You don’t want to open straight up into full capacity before the team has tested to make sure the pumps are working properly and that nothing is leaking. Once the system is up and running, you need to keep testing the cleaned water to make sure it meets requirements. Computerized systems and monitoring can make this easier to manage.
Questions to Ask Your Project Partners
Before you choose a partner to help you plan, choose the right equipment, and get your plant operational, you need to know how to choose the right company. This choice is the most important one you’ll make. How do you know how to find the right company? You need to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.
Start by asking the company about their experience. Lakeside Equipment began designing, developing, and installing water purification systems in the 1920s. We pride ourselves in creating high-quality systems that match our clients’ budgets. Using the most current CAD programs, we design systems that are meant to exceed expectations that require minimal maintenance in many situations. Field engineers are on-site for installations.
Ask for details about projects the company has worked on. Morgan City, Utah, needed a new wastewater treatment plant to meet the needs of a growing community. The city worried about the current system’s downtime while the new system was readied. They opted to have Lakeside Equipment install a stainless steel H-PAC system, which was oversized to increase the peak flow to exceed the estimated peak flow rate for the next 20 years. Morgan City has since found that maintenance is minimal and the new wastewater treatment plant is exceeding expectations.
Give Lakeside a call. Our specialists are happy to help you plan and construct a wastewater treatment plant that helps you as much as Morgan City’s new system is helping them.