Running a wastewater treatment plant is a multi-faceted process. The safety manager has to focus on workers’ safety, while the energy manager has to consider how much energy is being consumed. You have production teams working on proper treatment measures at the rates people and businesses need. There are also maintenance workers that have to keep everything running smoothly and avoid downtime.
Every wastewater treatment plant manager needs to think of ways for the municipality’s plant to be efficient and reliable. This is key to lowering energy consumption and avoiding costly fines caused by raw sewage release. How do you develop an efficient, reliable wastewater treatment process?
Start by Answering a Few Questions
Before you do anything, you need to address what your wastewater treatment process needs to achieve. Are you in an industrial area where a lot of your wastewater comes from businesses? Are those companies required to pre-treat wastewater before it reaches your facility?
If you’re in a heavily residential area, toilets, washing machines, showers, and dishwashers or hand-washed dishwater is the bulk of what you’d be cleaning. Most facilities treat water from both of these. You may also have a high percentage of trucked-in septage that’s pumped from homes, and those homes may only have tanks pumped every few years, so there may be more solids than usual.
Once you know what wastewater is generated, how much will you get on an average day? When do you find flow rates increase and when is the flow much slower? What are the regulations in your area? To get approval from the EPA, you’ll have to clean the water as required by the EPA. The equipment and plant design you choose needs to be able to meet these requirements.
Most wastewater treatment plants will be looking at a hauled waste receptacle, screens and trash rakes, a grit removal system, clarifiers, and biological treatment. If you need a small wastewater treatment system for your factory, a Raptor Complete Plant doesn’t need a lot of space and does everything you need. Otherwise, you’ll want to look at individual components.
Cut Energy Costs Without Sacrificing Treatment Speeds
In a wastewater treatment facility, aerators consume the most energy and pumps are close being. Upgrade to more efficient equipment to cut costs. You should also use systems that scale up and down as flow rates increase and decrease.
It’s also worthwhile to look into equipment that can take the methane produced in wastewater treatment and convert it to fuel you can use to heat or power your plant. You may still use a lot of energy when running your plant, but you will slash your heating bills in cold weather and electricity bills year-round.
Aim for Easy-to-Maintain Equipment
When equipment is above the water, you don’t have to drain tanks and ponds down before repairs or maintenance takes place. Motors with sealed bearing assemblies that lubricate themselves reduce maintenance needs.
Another consideration is to get pumps that can clean impellers by shifting from minimum to maximum speeds. That can save a lot of time with maintenance demands.
Invest in Automated Process Controls
SCADA is important for monitoring all of the processes in your plant. What is SCADA? It stands for Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition. It’s a computer system that collects and analyzes real-time data from the equipment in your wastewater treatment system to alert you to potential issues. It’s a must-have technology for efficiency and troubleshooting.
Add Sharp BNR to SCADA and monitor processes and quickly adjust aeration to maximize your plant’s efficiency. You can add other technology like Variable Frequency Drives and motor starters for an all-in-one system that practically runs itself.
That can help keep workers from needing to be at the plant 24/7. If there are issues, you can check remotely and make adjustments or decide if making the drive is necessary.
Slash Costs on Screenings by Having a Wash Press
The first stage of a wastewater treatment process is to screen materials like rags, plastic, and other litter that shouldn’t get flushed but often does. Those materials are caught on screens and removed to landfills. These organic materials are heavy and carry fecal material that will smell and can drive up disposal costs at an area landfill. The less you have to dispose of, the better it is.
A Raptor Wash Press screens this organic material, but it washes and dewaters it. Less water means lighter materials, which makes it easier to dispose of in a landfill. This equipment is capable of reducing screenings by half and weight by as much as 67%.
In addition, more of the water in your wastewater continues into the next steps in wastewater treatment. Eventually, more water is being returned to the community, which is especially helpful in areas where droughts are impacting water levels.
Have Extra Storage Tanks for Overflow Situations
If there is a problem, extra storage keeps your workers from having to release raw sewage. The excess wastewater can sit in tanks until the rest of the system is caught up. While you can ask residents to conserve water and avoid flushing toilets and limit showers each week, there are no guarantees they will. Storage is important.
Think Ahead and Be Prepared for Emergency Situations
Several cities in Vermont were hit by a historically heavy rainfall that flooded several wastewater treatment plants. The flood was only part of the problem. Power outages knocked systems offline, which meant wastewater wasn’t getting treated. More than a week later, towns and cities like Barre, Barton, Bridgewater, Hardwick, Johnson, Ludlow, Montpelier, and a handful of others are still not able to process at full capacity. Some of the workers are sleeping at the plant to keep up with changing flow rates.
No one expected upwards of ten inches of rain in one day, and days of more and more rain and thunderstorms are hampering efforts to get back to normal. With climate change and climate phenomena like El Nino, what can you do to make sure your wastewater facility runs efficiently and reliably at all times? You can’t predict the future, but you can take measures to plan ahead for changing weather patterns that your plant is ready for.
If your plant is relying solely on electricity and will suffer in an outage, consider having a backup power source like solar or wind. A backup generator is worth considering if solar and wind are not options.
Work With a Wastewater Treatment Expert
Lakeside Equipment brings close to 100 years of expertise in the water treatment industry. The sales team and engineers listen to your needs and concerns and help you develop the best ways to develop an efficient, reliable wastewater process. We’re happy to answer questions and give our expert input on how to improve your wastewater treatment plant’s equipment and processes at the budget you need to stick to.