Monthly Archives: May 2022

How Does Automation Improve Wastewater Treatment?

Automation in a wastewater treatment plant delivers a number of benefits that help your bottom line, the communities you serve, and the environment. Have you stopped to consider the different ways that automation could be used without your facility?

Water & Wastes Digest reports that about 25% of the wastewater processed in U.S. treatment plants is released without being treated. Torrential rains and flooding are reasons wastewater may be released without treatment. Equipment failures and leaking pipes and lines are other reasons. Automation is key in stopping these issues from occurring.

Ten Benefits Automation Brings to Wastewater Treatment

How does automation benefit a wastewater treatment plant? Here are the top ten reasons you should consider automating your facility.

Aids in Quality Control

You can use automation to boost quality control. When you have an automated system checking oxygen levels and ensuring the water that’s released meets or even exceeds the limits set forth by the EPA, you have the perfect partner in quality control.

When anything is wrong, the system alerts you. You can go to your computer and make adjustments as needed. The workers in those areas can shut down equipment if maintenance is needed to correct a problem before it gets out of control. Issues are taken care of quickly and correctly.

Constant Creation of Helpful Data

Automation establishes the data your facility needs to cut expenses, improve the treatment process, and maximize your manpower. The data can show positive gains or negative ones. Use the negative information to make improvements and fuel growth. Use the positive to present what’s working well with your stakeholders.

You’ll also get much-needed insight into changes in flow rates. You’ll learn when people in the municipality use the most water, when things are slow, and what adjustments can be made during these peaks. Use all of this data to achieve the other benefits gained from the use of automation, such as improving water quality, efficiency, and lowering expenses.

Diagnoses Possible Issues in Advance

When you have an automated system, you learn about possible issues in advance. There are warning systems and alarms to let you know when a machine isn’t working properly. If flow rates or water quality drastically change, the system alerts you. You may need to increase the pump speeds or increase aeration.

Improves Efficiency

The UN reports that 2.3 billion people live in areas where over 25% of the freshwater sources have been withdrawn. About 17% live in agricultural regions facing severe water shortages.

When you incorporate automation into your wastewater treatment plant, water treatment processes become more efficient. The U.S. has dozens of pollutants that are classified as toxic. When a plant has wastewater that contains those toxins, it cannot release the wastewater into the sewers. They must first treat that industrial wastewater. It’s an expensive undertaking.

Automated machines can separate the sludge and water. The sludge can then be removed and the water is able to go on for additional treatment. You end up separating a larger percentage of water from the solids so that more of the water goes back into the lakes, rivers, or storage tanks for reuse.

Increases a Plant’s Capacity

In the U.S., plants process more than 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. When a plant is operating efficiently, it saves money. That money can be used to grow the plant’s capacity. In Ohio, one plant updated older equipment with automated control systems. That change increased the plant’s capacity from 53 million gallons per day to 70 million.

When your plant has a larger capacity, it lowers the risk of an overflow of raw sewage. Per the EPA, these fines start at $2,500 per day and go up to $100,000 daily.

Lessens the Need for Chemicals

Chemical additives are used to kill any remaining bacteria in the water. When you use chemicals like chlorine, they must evaporate from the water before it can be released to the environment or returned to the city’s water supply.

If you have an efficient wastewater treatment system with optimized aeration, the air bubbles create the oxygen needed for the bacteria to do their job effectively. They’ll remove more of the harmful contaminants, reducing the need for chemical additives.

Modernizes Older Equipment

Even if you cannot afford to upgrade all of your wastewater facility’s equipment, an automated system helps the equipment you have work as efficiently as possible. You can use data gathered from the automated control system to decide where your money is best spent on upgrades. It might be a pump one year and a grit removal system another.

Step by step, you can modernize your plant and end up with the most efficient wastewater treatment plant possible.

Optimizes Facility Staffing

Automation can do things that people used to do. That’s not a bad thing. You can redesignate your workers to other areas of the plant to perform more important tasks. Instead of sitting and watching wastewater coming out of a pipe to see if there is a change in the flow rate, your employees could be engaged in more meaningful activities like inspecting, maintaining, and cleaning equipment.

Provides Real-Time Visibility

When your plant is automated, you have a constant stream of real-time data at your fingertips. You know if flow rates are increasing or decreasing during certain hours, on specific days, or during specific months. You can use the information to make data-driven decisions.

Suppose you’re seeing an increased flow rate that has put you near capacity several times. You could use this information to discuss the need for an expansion in your district. When you lay out the cost of expansion vs. the potential fines you face if you release untreated sewage, the expansion becomes a necessity that the district can’t argue against.

Reduces Energy Consumption and Costs

Finally, when you have an efficient wastewater treatment system, it reduces your energy consumption. That lowers your monthly expenditures. Tests show that automation can reduce energy consumption by 30% without needing to replace older equipment or reduce the water quality.

An Expert in Wastewater Treatment Can Help You Design the Best System and Upgrades Plan

The Sharp Biological Nutrient Removal (SharpBNR) process control system is an energy-efficient automated system. It has system status and alarm functions that you can adjust from a computer or the HMI. You can also connect it to a SCADA system for comprehensive efficient operations. Monitor Dissolved Oxygen and Oxygen Reduction Potential and have the system adjust aeration as needed.

That’s just a small sampling of all that an automated system allows you to do. Contact Lakeside Equipment to talk to an expert. Discuss your goals and your budget, and let our team help you decide the best steps to take.

Climate Change Brings About a Need to Look at Recycling Water

You’ve probably heard all about Lake Mead in the news. After reaching unheard of depths after years of drought conditions, two bodies and several sunken boats have been discovered in areas that used to be underwater. In areas like California and Arizona, drought conditions are drying up water sources and leading to grave concerns.

Weather patterns are changing. Areas that used to see rainfall or snow are experiencing droughts. Temperatures are going up, leading to unusually long droughts. It’s causing problems around the world, and experts are trying to figure out how to keep water from running out.

Water Shortages Around the World

Every continent is experiencing water shortages. It’s not just something happening in drier, hotter climates. As populations grow and temperatures increase, more water is being used than is being replenished. It takes a slow soaking rain to refill underground water sources like springs or gullies. These headwaters are where a river begins. Heavy rainfall may create quick, flooding water, but it will flow downstream before it helps replenish groundwater.

  • In Tulare County, California, dairy farms are digging their wells deeper and deeper to reach the groundwater. This is affecting neighbors with shallower drilled wells as they’re finding their own wells running dry.
  • Orange County in California found another problem happening. The draw on aquifers was so much that water from the ocean was able to seep in. They feared people would refuse to touch water that originated in a sewage treatment plant, but it was the only solution they could see.
  • In March, Governor Newsom signed an executive order banning well-drilling permits for any agricultural or industrial entity. In his executive order, he pointed out that water storage levels in Central Valley and Santa Clara Valley’s shared water reservoir are over 1 million acre-feet lower than in the prior year.
  • In Monterrey, Mexico, drought conditions led to city officials restricting residential water use to the hours of 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those six hours a day are all that the city’s 5.3 million people will be allowed to access. The hope is that this will help protect the city’s water supply.
  • The Californian town of Cambria announced in 2021 that after almost 40 years of depleting the town’s two primary water sources, they were almost out of water. As a level-four (of five) emergency was declared, residents were asked to cut water consumption by almost half. Plus, growth for this community was halted.
  • For some, that meant their applications to build on lots they own that already have water meters in place are being denied. Like many towns, Cambria is trying to figure out how to ensure community members can access water in their homes and businesses.
  • Las Vegas and Los Angeles are touted as an example of what communities can do. The city’s developers planned in advance. For decades, the city’s water system looked at water recycling and storage systems in the mountains as measures to take to prevent shortages. Plus, they request that people avoid outdoor watering to lower the demand on the city’s supplies during a drought.
  • Las Vegas pushes water recycling. Many of the resorts’ pools, fountains, and showers are designed to reuse water to lessen the draw on public water sources. Residential homes in Las Vegas no longer have grass. To prevent the need for watering lawns, artificial turf is used instead.
  • Melbourne, Australia, experienced a severe drought from 1997 to 2009. During part of that time, the city’s population also increased by over a million people. Water use increased by more than 10% in five years. During that time, the city added water recycling plants to try to lessen the demand for public water supplies.

Water recycling is the wave of the future. Some cities and districts are discovering the benefits. It’s time you did, too. It’s the best way to lower the demand on lakes, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water. Has your industrial or agricultural business or wastewater district considered the benefits of wastewater recycling? It’s time.

What Is Wastewater Recycling?

Wastewater recycling is an act where you clean and reuse water. Any homeowner that has barrels under gutters and uses that rainwater to water vegetable gardens is recycling water. On a grander scale, a water treatment plant can clean, disinfect, and return wastewater to a community’s water supply.

Across the country, municipal water supplies draw from a lake or river, clean the water, and send it to tanks for the public water system. Residents and business owners draw from those tanks every time they flush a toilet, do the laundry, take a shower, wash dishes, etc. The average person uses 101.5 gallons of water per day. It’s a lot of water being taken from water bodies.

Take Boston, Massachusetts, and the city’s population of 696,959. In one day, the average use means more than 70 million gallons of water are used. That’s one day! By the end of a year, more than 25 billion gallons of water are pulled from municipal water sources.

While many water treatment plants clean water coming from septic systems and sewers and return that water to local bodies of water, the water could go right into storage tanks to be used over and over. That reduces the draw of water from the usual sources like lakes and rivers.

How Does Water Recycling Work?

The Orange County Water District’s water recycling plant was developed back in the 1970s. Today, it generates about 35 million gallons of drinking water each day but can produce as much as 100 gallons. It’s slated to undergo an expansion in 2023, enabling the system to create 130 million gallons of public water each day.

How does it work? Wastewater goes from the wastewater treatment plant to the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). There it goes through five steps.

  1. Pre-Purification

After going through screening, grit chambers, filters, activated sludge, clarifiers, and final disinfection, the treated wastewater is pumped to the GWRS division. The wastewater is tested to ensure it meets the requirements after leaving the wastewater treatment plant.

  1. Microfiltration

As long as the treated wastewater meets the requirements, the water goes through microfiltration. Water passes through very thin straw-like fibers through tiny holes. Those holes capture any bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and microscopic solids.

  1. Reverse Osmosis

Once the water passes through the microfiltration step, it goes into reverse osmosis membranes to remove any pharmaceuticals and dissolved chemicals. After this process, the water is cleaned to a point that it’s similar to distilled water. To stabilize it, minerals must be added back in.

  1. UV Lights

Hydrogen peroxide and UV lights are the final step in disinfecting and killing off any remaining organics that got through the other stages.

  1. Water Delivery

Now that the water is completely clean and safe for drinking, it’s pumped into injection wells to prevent saltwater seepage and the rest recharges the basins. It filters through the sand and gravel to replenish the groundwater basins where public water is drawn from.

The wave of the future will be recycling water like Orange County is doing. Reusing water that’s consumed is key. Is your district considering taking this step? Reach out to Lakeside Equipment to learn more about the right pumps and biological treatment systems needed to replenish city water supplies with treated wastewater.