Monthly Archives: August 2022

Understanding the Three Types of Wastewater – Domestic, Industrial, and Stormwater

In broad terms, wastewater is water that’s been used in some way. It could be water that’s built up in clouds and is now coming down as rain or snow. It’s water that an industrial plant uses to wash food items, rapidly cool down extruded items, or to make items like paper. You also have domestic wastewater that comes from homes.

It’s estimated that 48% of wastewater today isn’t treated before it’s returned to a lake, stream, river, pond, ocean, etc. In districts with wastewater treatment plants, all it takes is one piece of broken equipment to create chaos that leads to the release of untreated wastewater. The importance of properly treating wastewater is critical, especially as many areas experience droughts of unbelievable levels.

Untreated wastewater is part of the problem today. There’s also a problem with water consumption. People need to start weighing their water usage and how to make sure the nation doesn’t run out in future generations.

What can a district do to ensure wastewater, no matter what kind, is properly treated? How do you recycle wastewater to help lower the draw on the nation’s water supplies? To better understand this, take a close look at the three types of wastewater.

Domestic Wastewater

Every day, a person within a home uses an average of 82 gallons of water in some way. It’s estimated that more than twice that is also wasted through water leaks or wasteful habits. Doing the laundry, flushing a toilet, washing your hands, and washing a pet all create stormwater. These are all examples of domestic wastewater.

Domestic water enters sewers from pipes that run from your home to the sewer lines. From there, it continues traveling through the sewer system to a wastewater treatment plant.

More rural areas have septic tanks and septic systems. Solid waste materials like toilet paper, small food particles, and feces sink to the bottom of the septic tank. Liquids travel through an effluent filter and piping to the leach field where it slowly trickles through sand and bedrock to clean it before it returns to the groundwater. The solids in the tank get pumped out every few years, depending on how many people live in the home. They’re transported by septage hauler to a wastewater treatment plant.

Water conversation at this level helps preserve excessive water waste. Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. Such as:

  • Flushing a toilet less frequently.
  • Turning off the water while you brush your teeth or lather your hands.
  • Wearing the same pants several times if they’re not stained or dirty.
  • Saving water that’s been used to steam vegetables to make vegetable broth.
  • Waiting until a dishwasher is full to run it.
  • Taking one shower a day instead of two or three.
  • Placing rain barrels under gutters and using that to water gardens and lawns.
  • Planting grass and crops that are drought-tolerant.

All of these measures will make a difference, but it’s not just for people producing domestic wastewater to resolve. Steps need to be taken to prevent waste and pollution with all three types of wastewater.

Industrial Wastewater

Industrial wastewater is the wastewater generated by manufacturing plants, food processing plants, oil and gas companies, mines, breweries, paper mills, and many other commercial businesses.

In areas where droughts are common, some companies must establish their own on-site wastewater treatment plants to recycle as much water as they can. Hotels in Las Vegas are one example, they must reuse water instead of drawing on public water supplies to do things like add water to their pools. The same is true of companies like car washes where a lot of water is used.

Many companies that generate industrial wastewater must pre-treat the water before releasing it into the sewer system. If they don’t, they put a strain on systems by sending excessive amounts of heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, etc. to the wastewater treatment plant for processing. It’s a costly process, so pre-treatment ensures the company responsible for generating the industrial wastewater does its part to help clean the water.


The final type of wastewater is one that people don’t often think of as being wastewater. When there is a heavy storm, rain falls in the streets and goes into storm drains. This is known as stormwater or storm runoff. From there, it may go to a wastewater treatment plant, but that’s not as common as having the stormwater runoff go directly to a channel that leads to a body of water.

As stormwater runoff is not always treated, things that the stormwater picks up along the way end up in a freshwater source nearby. It might be automotive fluids that puddled up from a leak in a car’s engine. Salt that’s spread on the roads in the winter, liquid manure, and animal waste are all things that can end up in stormwater.

Stormwater runoff is an area of concern, as too much rain or snowmelt at once can overload an older system and lead to sewage and stormwater mixing and ending up going to area water sources without treatment, which is a health hazard.

Many cities are starting to realize the importance of finding a way to manage stormwater. Green infrastructure plans help filter out some of the waste from stormwater by adding green roofs, rain gardens, and rain barrels to help capture some of the rain that falls or snow that melts. Plants are able to pre-filter the storm runoff before it reaches bodies of water.

Making Wastewater Treatment More Efficient and Effective

Proper wastewater treatment ensures that wastewater is cleaned of most contaminants before it returns to a lake, river, pond, etc. Not everything is removed through wastewater treatment. Researchers are finding levels of antidepressants and other prescription medications in aquatic animals. Because of this, research is constantly taking place to find better filtration methods and more effective treatment measures.

Another aspect is water reuse. Across the country, water shortages are becoming more and more apparent. Lake Mead is an example of this. The lake is at the lowest level in history, and severe water conservation efforts are underway or there will be shortages. Water reuse is essential. People may not like the idea of drinking water that came from a toilet or washing machine, but it’s important.

Wastewater districts need to make sure the public knows that recycled water is just as safe as the water they currently use. Sometimes, it’s even cleaner.

Consider adding a water treatment plant to your existing wastewater treatment plant. Instead of sending the treated wastewater to a body of water, it goes to a water treatment plant for further processing before it goes to the public water supply for use. Water reclamation has to happen, and your district should look into the upgrades needed. With government grants available for upgrading the infrastructure, it’s a great time to learn more.

Lakeside Equipment specializes in water treatment equipment and facilities. Give us a call or reach out to us via email to learn more about what your wastewater district plant would need to do to upgrade your system to be efficient and cost-effective while creating a clean water source for area residents and businesses to draw on.

Upgrade or Repair: Which Makes Sense for Your Water District?

Here’s a concerning statistic. There are more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. and many of them are at 81% of their capacity. About one out of five are at or over their max capacity. When a facility is at max capacity, untreated wastewater ends up flowing into lakes, rivers, and streams where people and animals are exposed to it.

In 2019, districts across the nation spent more than $3 billion on upgrades or repairs to pipelines. The gap in what was needed was around $81 billion. Recent grants and funding promise to help with some of this, but there are still many districts that have an impossible choice. Do you repair your district’s system again and hope it lasts or is it time for upgrades?

How Long Has Your Wastewater Treatment Plant Been Operational?

On average, a wastewater treatment plant is designed for no more than 50 years before changes are necessary. As the populations in towns and cities increase, more wastewater goes to a plant, and that means the existing equipment may not be enough. If more wastewater is coming in than the equipment is able to process, the release of untreated wastewater is going to happen.

Are the fines you’ll face from the EPA or your state government worth it? These fines may end up costing more than upgrades would cost. Take a look at some of the recent fines issued to wastewater treatment plants in the U.S.

  • Alabama – $250,000
  • California – $816,000
  • Connecticut – $2.4 million
  • Indiana – $3 million
  • Michigan – $100,000
  • New Mexico – $1.2 million

One thing to remember is that many of the fines also come with the requirement that you make the required upgrades or repairs. You end up having to pay even more, and your wastewater district members may not like the rate hikes that are required to cover these urgent fixes.

When Do You Repair Instead of Upgrade?

It’s clear that something has to change. When should you repair rather than pay for upgrades? The most important reason to repair is that your budget is limited. No one wants to scrape along with older equipment, but if there’s simply not enough money for upgraded equipment, repairs will have to suffice for now. What other situations call for repairs over upgrades?

  1. Your Equipment Isn’t Too Old

If your equipment is still newer, it’s not always smart to replace it yet. It still has a lot of life left, so repair whatever isn’t working effectively. If a pump blows, it’s better to replace the pump than an entire system.

  1. You Don’t Have Time for Replacements

It may not be the right season to be shutting down part of your wastewater treatment plant. It’s winter, and more people are at home and taking warm baths at night, so wastewater generation is higher than it is in the summer. Your town might be a popular spot for tourists, and once the summer tourism season ends, wastewater generation will drop by more than half. If you need to repair now to buy time until less wastewater is being generated, wait until then.

  1. Funding Isn’t In Place Yet

You may have applied for grants to pay for new wastewater treatment equipment, but the grant money isn’t being distributed until the third quarter. You can’t hold off yet, so make just enough repairs to carry you over and then replace equipment when you have funding. 

When Should You Upgrade?

Before you even experience fines, when should you consider upgrades? Here are five reasons to upgrade.

  1. Energy Costs Are Rising

Your bills keep rising, and the people in your district are not happy about it. This can be a sign that pumps and motors are working more than in the past. Upgrading to more energy-friendly pumps and motors will cost money, but the amount you save on energy bills makes it worthwhile.

You can also consider upgrades to help power your plant. Add a system that converts the methane your plant produces into fuel to heat to cut your heating bills. Look into solar panels and wind turbines to help produce the energy your plant needs to run.

  1. Equipment Breaks Down Frequently

Your equipment seems to break down every month. When that happens, you have to stop the treatment process or lower the capacity, which puts you at risk of flooding and raw sewage releases. If you’re spending more time on repairs than you have in the past, it’s time to look into upgraded, maintenance-free wastewater treatment equipment.

  1. The Population Is Rising Faster Than Expected

Your town should be considering the added wastewater generation when new construction is considered, but you can’t always control how many people move into a new home. You also can’t control how many showers or baths a person takes each day. You will have the people who take a bath and two showers every day without realizing how much extra wastewater they’re generating. If the wastewater generation is more than planned, you could find yourself quickly reaching capacity.

By building a system that’s larger than needed, you help allow for growth. If more people moved into a new development than you expected, you still have plenty of capacity for the increase. You do need to closely monitor this throughout the year and remain in contact with the city planners.

  1. Treatment Standards Have Changed

Wastewater treatment standards change from time to time. As the guidelines regarding the max levels of a certain component change, you need to meet or exceed the changing guidelines. This may mean having upgraded equipment that’s able to filter the wastewater to the appropriate levels.

  1. Your Wastewater Treatment Plant is At Capacity

When your wastewater treatment plant is at or very close to capacity, it’s time to upgrade your equipment. You can’t risk the fines you’ll get by releasing raw sewage. You have systems in place to monitor how much wastewater is treated and flows into your plant, keep track of these numbers, and address issues sooner rather than later.

  1. You’ve Been Warned the Repairs Won’t Last Long

You might save a lot of money with repairs, but you’ve been told that the repair is only going to carry your plant for a month or two. If you have to pay for the same repair weeks from now, why keep spending money? Pay for the upgrade once and avoid all of the extra repair costs.

Discuss Your Options

Sometimes, the costs of repairs vs. upgrades are not as different as you might imagine. Talk to an expert in wastewater treatment plants to find out how much it would cost to repair equipment vs. replace it. You may find that it ends up being more affordable to replace equipment. Plus, there may be incentives that you can apply for to help cover some of the cost of the infrastructure upgrades you need. If you’re saving your district’s members money in the long run, they’ll appreciate it.

Lakeside Equipment offers cost-effective upgrades if that suits your district better. Or, work with our team on repairs that provide the efficiency and effectiveness you need. Water treatment is our specialty and it’s one we’ve been involved in since 1928. Our mission remains to have Cleaner Water for a Brighter Future. Talk to us to learn more about the ways you can join us on that mission.