Monthly Archives: October 2022

Is Your District Overdue on Water Treatment Plant Updates?

As years go by, the EPA changes and updates public water treatment requirements. It’s a district’s responsibility to keep up with those changes. As policies change, it doesn’t mean that water treatment plants are able to keep up. Lakeside Equipment is ready to help you take a closer look at what these changes mean for your water treatment district.

Colorado is one state where recent changes by the EPA are causing headaches. The EPA is adding new guidelines regarding the safe limits for PFAs (aka Forever Chemicals) in drinking water. The new policies call for a drop from 70 parts per trillion to no more than 1 part per trillion for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid). These limits are too low for some labs to test for, and many water treatment plants lack the equipment needed to get the levels to those new guidelines.

It’s a problem as around 50% of Colorado’s water districts do not test for PFOA or PFOS. Of those that do, 76 have higher levels than is recommended. In one city, the PFOS level was at 3.5 parts per trillion. The cost for that city to upgrade filtration is around $10 million, and Colorado is slated to get about $321 million of the $1 billion Federal Infrastructure Bill, so only 30 or so water treatment plants will get funding to help offset the upgrades.

Has your district started looking at government grants and funding to make important upgrades to your water treatment plant? By now, it’s likely that you have. It’s time to look at all of the latest changes and what it means for your district.

The Dangers of PFOA and PFOS

The forever chemicals PFOA and PFOS are newer concerns. Over time, they affect the cardiovascular system and a person’s immune function. They also increase the risk of certain cancers, and it’s believed they impact fetal development. Some studies have found they impact thyroid function, kidney health, and reproduction.

As a result of these studies, the EPA came up with a lifetime health advisory, warning people to minimize their lifetime exposure to these forever chemicals in the water they drink, the foods they eat, and consumer products. The new drinking water advisories listed by the EPA are:

  • PFOA – 0.004 parts per trillion
  • PFOS – 0.02 parts per trillion
  • PFBS – 2,000 parts per trillion
  • GenX Chemicals – 10 parts per trillion

These forever chemicals build up in your blood. They’re found in the water, in the air, and in the soil. They don’t go away, and that’s why the EPA issued a lifetime health advisory.

Lead Pipes Are Still a Concern and Steps Are Being Taken to Get Rid of Them

Even if a water district has clean water, the pipes that carry water into homes, schools, and businesses may contain lead solder or lead pipes. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan addresses lead contamination. An investment of $15 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is earmarked to remove lead pipes across the nation.

As of 2021, around 22 million homes were getting drinking water through lead pipes. Some states have a higher risk than others. These states had the highest number of lead pipes.

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

Every state still has lead pipes in service and that’s something that has to be addressed. The dangers of lead have been proven. Exposure to lead can cause anemia, brain damage, kidney damage, and weakness.

What Upgrades Should You Be Making?

When it comes to your water treatment district, what upgrades do you need to make? For many districts, better filtration is essential. In a home, dual-stage filters with activated carbon and reverse osmosis are effective. It’s found that reverse osmosis is the most effective method for removing PFAS. Nanofiltration is also helpful.

Sweeney Water Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, installed granulated activated carbon filters and has been testing them since 2019. As of 2022, they now have water that’s free of PFAS. To get to that point, they spent more than $100 million. They plan to recover the money from the companies that contaminated the city’s waterways through federal lawsuits.

In Peabody, Massachusetts, a $36 million Clean & Sustainable Water Infrastructure Plan upgraded the city’s water treatment plant with new technology, an updated lab, and new filtration to remove forever chemicals from the water. They also made sure the city’s water treatment plant is ready to manage 3 million gallons per day, though they’re only currently managing around 1 million gallons daily. They made sure the plant is ready for future growth.

Lead pipes and forever chemicals are concerns, but it’s also important to look at your facility’s equipment. How old are your pumps, filtration systems, lab equipment, etc.? If you built your facility to handle a population of 100,000 and you’re now at 99,000, you may soon reach capacity. What happens then?

What filtration are you using? Many plants are finding the best success with granulated activated carbon. GAC filters are doing a good job removing PFAS, so you want to look into those. While you’re making those upgrades, make sure your lab is able to test for forever chemicals. The easier it is to check your levels quickly and accurately, the better it is for your community.

While you’re making changes to your filters, pumps, and upgrading equipment, consider future growth. What if there’s a boom in growth due to a new apartment complex or building housing office space? If you can plan your changes around population increases, it’s beneficial.

Are you in an area prone to storms? If your water treatment plant is in any way connected to wastewater treatment or storm runoff, you have to factor in climate change, too. Storms may worsen, so plan around those changes. You don’t want to end up with a water system that’s contaminated in a flood, extremely heavy rains, or sudden snow melt.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades Save Money

No upgrade should be considered without also considering ways to save money. If you could install solar panels or wind turbines to help power your water treatment plant, you save your district members money. Those savings pay for the upgrades over time. It’s worth taking a closer look at new equipment that saves money by using less power, pairs with alternative energy sources, or is low-maintenance.

Work With An Expert to Plan the Best Changes for Your Water Treatment Plant

These are some of the changes plants around the nation are making. What steps should you take? The best way to plan for growth and changing water treatment requirements is by working with an expert in water treatment. Lakeside Equipment has been in the industry for close to 100 years.

Our company’s been in water treatment since 1928 and strives to help every community have clean, safe drinking water and waterways. Talk to our water treatment experts to learn more about the best upgrades for your district’s drinking water. Lakeside Equipment works with your budget and helps you determine the responsible way to grow your water treatment plant, better clean the water, and keep cost increases down for your community members.

Changing Weather Patterns Demonstrate the Need to Evaluate Your Current Equipment

Hurricane Ian destroyed so many beaches, businesses, and homes across Florida. As the storm was slated to hit the Tampa Bay area and then ended up hitting farther south, people weren’t always prepared and didn’t always have the time to evacuate. That’s just one area of concern with changing weather patterns.

The storm surge and heavy rains lead to power outages and raw sewage flooded out of sewers and wastewater treatment plants, releasing untreated sewage into rivers and streets. Bradenton’s wastewater treatment plant reported having to release millions of gallons of wastewater into the Manatee River. Orlando released tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater before it was fully treated. In Miami, thousands of gallons bubbled up from the sewers.

Hurricane Ian’s rainfall almost reached two feet by the time it left the western coastline. No one was prepared for that amount of rainfall, followed by a substantial storm surge. It has raised awareness that the infrastructure in Florida is not prepared for these massive storms. How prepared is your wastewater treatment plant?

Take a Close Look at Your Infrastructure

One of the problems affecting Florida’s sewers and wastewater treatment facilities is outdated piping. Some of the pipes are made from cast iron and are corroding. Until the 1970s, some districts used piping known as Orangeburg, which was a compressed wood fiber with a water-resistant adhesive, and coal tar.

Orangeburg was affordable, but it was only intended to last for 50 years. The problem is, some of the piping failed within 10 years. In some areas of Florida, Orangeburg piping is still being used. As cities bring homeowners on septic systems to sewer systems, the changeovers are made, but it takes time and money.

Florida isn’t the only place in the nation that needs to stop and take a closer look at its infrastructure. Northern Virginia is working on a project to install a two-mile sewer tunnel that goes under the Potomac River to try to stop the release of untreated wastewater going into the river. Alexandria, Virginia, only has one main sewer pipe for stormwater and sewage, and it causes serious issues. Cities like Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Seattle, Washington, are working on similar upgrades.

Get a better picture of just how many systems are facing similar problems. Here are some of the most important facts from the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card.

  • Over 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. are operating at 81% of their systems’ capacities.
  • Around 15% of them have exceeded capacity.
  • Wastewater treatment plans typically have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years.
  • The nation’s underground piping bringing wastewater to treatment plants or clean drinking water to homes and businesses is an average of 45 years old and has a lifespan of 50 to 100 years.
  • Older piping is a problem as cracks and fractures allow stormwater and groundwater to seep into the sewer pipes, increasing the flow entering a facility, which puts more demand on the system’s equipment.
  • One out of five Americans rely on a septic tank, and the liquids and solids from those tanks are hauled to an area wastewater treatment plant, so every American relies on their area’s wastewater treatment plant.

The importance of a wastewater treatment system extends to every corner of the nation. Yet if you look at the burden of the cost of the necessary upgrades between 1977, when the government’s capital investment was 63%, and today, it’s concerning. In 2017, the federal government’s capital investment was down to 9%. President Biden signed an infrastructure bill that’s an important first step in making improvements, but there’s a lot of work to do.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $15 billion is earmarked for the replacement of lead water pipes. States are also given funding for water projects, so it’s important to look into what’s available in your state’s revolving loan fund. Total wastewater grants and funding include:

  • $75 million for information sharing regarding water infrastructure and water quality
  • $100 million for wastewater efficiency grants
  • $125 million for system resilience
  • $200 for new sewer system connections to help move some areas from septic systems to area sewers
  • $250 million for new installations, repairs, or replacements of septic systems
  • $1.4 billion for measures to control and treat sewer and stormwater-related overflows

What should you be doing? It’s time to take a closer look at your equipment. Just how quickly can it work? Does it require someone to be onsite for changes or is it automated? Is your equipment pretty trouble-free or does it require frequent maintenance?

Another question to ask is where stormwater runoff goes. In older districts, there is a chance that stormwater runoff is channeled to wastewater treatment plants. This isn’t as common, but it still does happen around the U.S. If there are flooding rains and the stormwater rushes to a wastewater treatment plant, it can pose serious issues with untreated wastewater being released. Separating those systems should be a consideration.

In your district, what piping is being used? What is the capacity of the equipment in your treatment plant? Are your stormwater run-off and wastewater treatment systems connected? If there is a massive flood or unheard-of levels of storm surge, are you prepared? If not, it’s time to consider what you can do to be prepared.

The Florida Keys Shows the Importance of Change

The Florida Keys spent around $1 billion upgrading their wastewater and stormwater systems. They installed sealed pipes to prevent stormwater from getting into the sewers. Their wastewater equipment was upgraded with a treatment system for nitrogen removal to help prevent algal blooms and the wastewater treatment plant’s cleaned water was released 3,000 feet below ground instead of at the surface.

That system seemed to do well. After the flooding from 2017’s Hurricane Irma, no sewage spills occurred. In the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Pollution Notice Report, no mention of the Keys was made after Hurricane Ian.

If your system hasn’t been upgraded lately, it’s a good time to consider making improvements. Not only can you install upgrades that save on energy consumption, but you can use grants to add solar panels or wind turbines to reduce your demand on the power grid. Burning the methane produced in your plant for heat is another great upgrade.

From Raptor Complete Plant systems to grit collectors and trash rakes to open and enclosed screw pumps, Lakeside Equipment can help you upgrade older equipment to handle higher capacities. We offer SharpBNR process control systems to ensure your facility meets its goals. Many times, the money you save on energy bills or by avoiding EPA fines pays for the system in little time.

Lakeside Equipment provides cost-effective wastewater, hydroelectricity, and water treatment equipment for your municipal and industrial needs. Our experts have been helping deliver cleaner water since 1928. Reach out to our team to discuss how we can help you save money and ensure you’re meeting your community’s water treatment goals.