Monthly Archives: October 2023

Upgrading Aging Wastewater Treatment Facilities: Tips For Modernization

U.S. wastewater treatments function at approximately 81% of their capacity. About 15% have reached or exceeded capacity, and that’s a problem. Unusual weather patterns wreak havoc on wastewater treatment plants, leading to raw sewage ending up in rivers, lakes, ponds, and the ocean. Aging wastewater treatment facilities need upgrading. It’s not something to put off until something goes wrong.

In 2019. The Infrastructure Report Card found that despite expenditures of more than $3 billion, there was a gap of more than $80 billion needed to fix all of the problems in wastewater treatment plants across the country. Typically, a wastewater treatment plant is designed to last about 40 to 50 years.

But, weather extremes have made it clear that Mother Nature isn’t kidding around. There were flooding rains and feet of snow in California that led to landslides and floods in areas that hadn’t experienced much rain in years, followed by a “bomb cyclone.” 

Areas of Vermont that weren’t even in flood zones saw flood waters rise by many feet, leading to the flooding of several wastewater treatment plants and damage to an under-river sewer pipe, leading to a lot of raw sewage leaking into Lake Champlain. By the end of September, Montpelier’s wastewater treatment plant was still dealing with the aftermath of clogs from flood debris. 

Many other states including Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania also experienced severe flooding. Most recently, seven inches of rain devastated New York City and experts realized that many of the city’s stormwater systems were not equipped for the amount of rain that fell. 

A combination of heavy rain and equipment failure led to the release of extra rain and a little raw sewage into a ditch at an Illinois wastewater treatment plant. While parts fail, a bigger problem for this plant is that the parts that are needed are not available. It’s expected that the back-ordered parts will take a couple of weeks to arrive.

When your wastewater treatment plant needs upgrades, you have to take action. Even if it seems okay, you have to consider changing weather patterns and be prepared. But, you also need to carefully balance the costs with what the people in your area can afford. When need to modernize, what are the best steps to ensure everyone gets what they need? 

Build Your Wastewater Treatment Facility’s Upgrades Plan

You have to start with a plan. In this, you’re going to start by looking at the budget and your needs. What within the plant is most in need of upgrading? To decide this, look at the equipment, pumps, motors, etc. that break down regularly. The more time your employees spend on repairs and maintenance, the more costly it becomes. That equipment is the first to upgrade. 

Is your community growing? Now is the time to plan for future growth. If you upgrade now with plenty of room for growth, you’re not going to ask for additional equipment 10 years from now. Plan for the community’s future needs and avoid reaching capacity before the equipment is fully depreciated.

 Once you have a list of what needs upgrading, figure out the cost to make all of the replacements. That gives you a budget, but now you need to look at what the taxpayers in your district can afford. If you’re looking at water bills going up 5%, that may get more support than asking your region’s taxpayers to agree to a 20% increase. You need to remember that they’re also dealing with increasing groceries, fuel costs, heating bills, electricity rates, etc.

Ultimately, voters approve the upgrades you need. You need to provide proof that the chances are needed. You also have stakeholders to work with. They need to support your plans to modernize your wastewater treatment facility. If they’re not on board with the changes, it’s going to become difficult to complete the different steps in your plan. 

Provide a solid plan of what’s needed, why it is important, and how much it’s going to increase their bills. A slideshow with the amount of facility downtime that’s happening and how many hours of overtime are going into the emergency repairs shows how much of a problem older equipment is. Point out the grants or loans you’ve qualified for to show how much you’ve saved in the long run through government funding for the necessary improvements.

Look Into Energy-Efficient Measures

While you’re modernizing your plan, take every possible step to improve energy efficiency within your plant. LED light fixtures are a small, important change. Motion-activated lights save money by turning off when someone isn’t in a specific area of the plant.

 Alternative energy options are another upgrade that saves a lot of money. Solar panels cost extra, but if their additional cost will be paid off within five years due to the electricity savings, it’s worth it. Solar panels typically have a lifespan of upwards of 30 years, so you’ll have 25 years or so where they’re sheer profit.

Another area to consider is the capture of methane your plant produces. You can turn that into fuel to power or heat your plant. If you use methane for heat in the winter and cooling all summer, it’s a money-saving change.

Newer pumps and motors require less energy and adjust their output to match flow rates. Plus, you can have control panels that offer wireless connectivity to enable operators to check systems from a remote location. Components that are sealed and don’t require constant lubrication work better and require less downtime for maintenance.

Is It Time to Convert Integrated Sewer and Stormwater Systems?

Around 860 facilities in the U.S. process both wastewater and stormwater from heavy rains or snowmelt. It’s easy for this type of system to flood after a storm or rapid snowmelt and cause the release of raw sewage.

 If it’s time to update your system and you have a combined sewer network, it’s time to look into separating them. The Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program was established on August 10, 2023, and helps provide around $50 million in grants for districts that are upgrading combined sewer overflows, stormwater management projects, or sanitary sewer overflows. 

Always Work With a Qualified Engineer

Whether you’re planning to separate your systems or need to make upgrades to your community’s wastewater treatment facility, work with a qualified engineer. You need an expert to help make sure the changes you make are going to improve output and efficiency while also being cost-effective at the same time.

Another reason to work with a wastewater treatment plant specialist is that your system will not be fully functional when you’re making upgrades. This lower capacity may impact people in your municipality. They need to be reassured that any disruptions are going to be minimal. A wastewater treatment specialist ensures the upgrades are handled quickly and correctly.

Lakeside Equipment is the expert you need on your side. Lakeside has been in water purification for nearly 100 years and knows the best ways to modernize your plant without exceeding your maximum budget. Give us a call or reach us online to get the help you need in wastewater treatment plant design, planning, and improvements.

Screw Pump Troubleshooting: Common Problems and Solutions

Within a wastewater treatment or water treatment plant, a screw pump moves all of that liquid at a constant speed in the most efficient way possible. Screw pumps are designed to avoid clogging and excessive wear. They don’t require much maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they never experience issues. Here’s a list of common screw pump problems and how to resolve them.

What Is a Screw Pump?

Before getting into common screw pump problems, it helps to know how they work. There’s a giant screw inside a trough or pipe that continually rotates. As it does, water pushes from the bottom of the screw to the top with the help of momentum, the screw’s ridges, and the sides of the trough or pipe. This moves liquids from a lower point like a pool or wet well to a higher point like a basin or tank.

What Issues Are Common?

What are the most common issues people experience with their plants’ screw pumps? These six issues are the most likely to occur.


Sometimes, pressure changes in liquid form small cavities, and then allow vapor and gases to fill those pockets that implode. This is known as cavitation and occurs when the static pressure is lower than the liquid’s vapor pressure. 

Why does cavitation occur? If there is insufficient suction pressure, it’s common. Having high fluid viscosity or gas and air in the fluid are other causes.

When cavitation happens, it creates vibrations that can damage the mechanics within the pump and lead to the failure of the bearings, seals, or shaft. It’s important for the pressure at the suction portion of the pump to remain steady. Reduce the pump’s speed and increase the level of fluid in the suction tank. If gas or air are present, remove them before the liquid makes it to the screw pump.

High Pressure With the Discharge of Liquids

A high discharge pressure is often tied to a blockage in the discharge line. It also occurs if the valve is closed. Those can be easy fixes. Find the blockage or open the valve. It also occurs if the pump speed is set too high. Again, it’s an easy fix. 


Leaks also create noises as the fluid levels being moved through the screw pump aren’t adequate. You should notice leaks as you’ll find fluid where it shouldn’t be. They usually occur when seals are worn or fittings are loose. The repairs for leaks involve replacing worn or damaged seals and tightening or replacing loose or broken fittings.

Loss of Flow or No Flow

If your system is not pushing water at all or the flow rate has greatly diminished, it’s often a sign that your motor is working too slowly or is overloaded. It can be tied to a loose belt if the pump is belt-driven. It can also be tied to insufficient suction or the suction pipe being inadequately sized. If the fluid pressure is too close to or matches the vapor pressure, it can lead to issues with flow. If the viscosity of the liquid is too high or the liquid is too hot, flow rates are also impacted.

When any of this is happening, the motor needs to be examined. Make sure everything is lubricated correctly, that belts are tight, and that a variable frequency drive is set correctly. Check the fluid’s temperature and viscosity, and change speed and suction rates if needed.

Loud or Excessive Noise

Is your screw pump making loud rattles, bangs, or grinding noises? Those are not normal noises and need to be investigated. A screw pump makes noise, but excessive or extremely loud noises are not okay.

Loud or excessive screw pump noise is a sign of a clog, cavitation, blocked suction or discharge, misalignment, or worn or damaged bearings. If there are problems, have the repairs made ASAP. Alignment may need to be adjusted. Any blockages need to be cleared.

Make it a point to know how a maintained, properly functioning screw pump sounds. The easier it is to identify the normal noises, the easier it is to determine when a noise isn’t the same. 


While the maintenance of a screw pump is minimal, you still need to make sure the pump components are lubricated and working properly. When there is too much friction, overheating is possible and damages a pump in a short time.

Overheating is often linked to operating pumps at too high a speed, clogged lines, or air leaks within the system. All three of these possible causes have to be addressed. 

If you are running your pump faster than is needed, slow it down and see if the problem goes away. Check the lines for clogs, and look for air leaks. Finally, check the lubrication levels and make sure there is adequate lubrication within the pump.

Don’t Delay Troubleshooting Issues

Never delay your attempts to troubleshoot issues. If there is a problem and you wait too long, the repairs could become far more costly. Identifying issues in the earliest stages can save money in the long run. Especially if you have a screw pump expert like Lakeside Equipment to help with the repairs.

Most problems are avoidable if you perform routine maintenance on your screw pumps. You should always keep an eye out for leaks or unusual noises. If there are any concerns, call in an expert. It’s better to pay for an inspection and learn nothing is wrong than to wait and have your pump fail and need to be replaced.

Two Types of Screw Pumps

When you’re investing in screw pumps in your plant, there are open and enclosed screw pumps. Enclosed screw pumps have the screw installed within a solid pipe. Open screw pumps are in a concrete or steel trough. 

Lakeside Equipment offers two types of enclosed screw pumps: Type C or Type S. Type C has a smaller horizontal footprint and an outer rotating tube, while Type S has a stationary tube with a pivot feature to reduce the maintenance needs on the lower bearing. There’s no grouting work required, so installation costs are lower.

Open screw pumps don’t clog, so you don’t need to pre-screen your wastewater. Installation doesn’t require a wet well, and maintenance is minimal. But, they’re going to require a lot of concrete, steel, and possibly grout to build the troughs. 

Which is right for your plant’s needs? Talk to the experts at Lakeside Equipment about your goals and plant design and we’ll help you figure out the right solutions for your budget, volume, and space.

Static Screens in Wastewater Treatment: Applications and Advantages

One of the first steps a wastewater treatment plant takes to treat water is to run it through a static screen. If your plant isn’t performing this preliminary treatment step, it’s worth your consideration as they’re a cost-effective way to get a jump start on wastewater treatment.

What Does a Static Screen Do?

When wastewater flows into a treatment plant, a static screen sits in front of the remaining wastewater equipment. Wastewater enters the system, passing through a stationary static screen first to remove as many solids as possible.

Think of it like a mesh screen that keeps bugs from entering your window at home. In this case, it’s a durable screen that catches particles like plastics, feminine products, foods that weren’t digested, hardened particles of grease, and paper products. 

Items that get captured are composted or removed and taken to a landfill. Many plants compost them over time, and that compost can be used in forests. This makes it easier for the next stages of wastewater treatment, such as grit removal.

In addition to a municipal wastewater treatment system, static screens benefit businesses that are under orders to pre-treat industrial wastewater or who want to do their part. It includes companies like chemical processing plants, paper mills, breweries, food processing plants, and plastic and metal processing plants. If you have a stormwater system, they are fantastic for removing plastics, trash, and fallen sticks and branches after a storm.

Learn About the Different Types of Static Screens

There are different types of static screens, including two primary ones that most plants use. The options include:

Band Screens

Band screens are typically installed at the start of a single flow or direct flow channel. It has guides along each edge of the screen panels to ensure movement and alignment remain steady as the chains move around the system to keep the static screens in constant motion. 

The filter mesh is welded and has a frame that acts as a bucket that deposits materials into a collection area. As materials are deposited, spray nozzles clear the grills of debris.

Step Screens

Step screens have different stainless-steel bars with the screen that moves upward to the top, depositing the solids they collect. It almost resembles an escalator. If you can imagine an escalator with mesh that catches the materials instead of solid steps, you have a good understanding of what step screens look like.  

Wedge Wire Screens

Wire wedge screens are self-supporting and either a cylinder or flat panel. Wastewater travels onto the panel or cylinder and falls through the mesh, while solids go over the top to the collection area. It’s usually made from stainless steel due to its durability and anti-corrosion qualities. 

Step and wedge wire screens are the most commonly used static screens, but it’s important to consider what’s best for your wastewater treatment plant. The current design, space, and budgetary constrictions all influence your final decision.

Advantages of Static Screens in Wastewater Treatment

What are the advantages of static screens in wastewater treatment? One of the first benefits is that they’re cost-effective. They do not require electricity, and the purchase and installation costs are not out of reach, especially when you consider that they help make the rest of the wastewater treatment process a little easier to manage. Static screens also require very little maintenance, so you won’t need to spend a lot of time training or hiring additional workers to keep the screens maintained.

They clean themselves with water spray or bar rakes that clear the screen’s bars as the system moves around with the water’s current. Some are also self-reversing to clear any jams that may occur after a storm where large branches enter systems that combine wastewater and stormwater runoff.

Static screens do their job effectively. The mesh screens capture a lot. They can remove small particles of solidified grease, corn skins that are harder for a body to digest, or bone particles from animals that get into a sewer and end up in wastewater. With these items removed before the remaining wastewater treatment measures take place, it eases wear and tear on equipment and gets the treatment process started faster.

With a static screen, they don’t need ideal conditions in order to work correctly. It doesn’t matter if flow rates increase or decrease or if temperatures are colder or hotter than usual. Static screens will work effectively in any condition.

Because static screens come in a variety of sizes and formats, it’s easy to fit one into your existing system. Some require very little headroom. When you’re shopping for the best static screen, finding a variety of sizes ends up helping out if you have little space.

Tips for Choosing the Right Static Screen for Your Facility

The best static screen for wastewater treatment depends on your current setup. Work with an expert in wastewater treatment equipment to learn more about your options, the costs, and how to incorporate static screens in your plant.

Lakeside Equipment brings decades of expertise in water treatment to the table. We offer a variety of screens to ensure every customer gets the right equipment for their needs. Our line-up includes:

  • Raptor® FalconRake Bar Screen: This step system doesn’t require much space and is a cost-effective and low-maintenance option. Bars can be spaced as close as ¼ inch.
  • Raptor® Fine Screen: The Fine Screen is a cylinder static mesh screen that’s angled and has a rotating rake that travels around the screen to clean between the bars, which prevents clogs.
  • Raptor® Micro Strainer: The Micro Strainer is meant for lower use in a smaller facility. It’s a great option for a business that wants to pre-treat wastewater or for a smaller municipality. Stainless steel components and thicker baskets and tubes increase the system’s durability and lifespan.
  • Raptor® Multi-Rake Bar Screen: Stainless steel construction, including the roller chain, with rectangular or trapezoidal bars that act as steps and capture solids. This system has an auto-reverse to prevent jams.
  • Raptor® Rotary Strainer Screen: This wedge wire system is designed with mesh openings of 0.01 to 0.1 inches. It’s in a self-contained unit with stainless-steel construction to prevent corrosion. 
  • Raptor® Rotating Drum Screen: Wedge screen systems can use the cylinder mesh system, and that’s what this rotating drum screen does. The stainless-steel drum captures solids, while the liquids pass through. It’s a multi-purpose system that screens, washes, compacts, and dewaters.

Ask us about our line of Raptor® screens for your larger wastewater treatment plant or the Raptor® Micro Strainer for small facilities. Our wastewater equipment specialists help you make the right choice that’s in your budget and does everything you expect.