Monthly Archives: January 2024

The Importance of pH Control in Biological Wastewater Treatment

The Encyclopedia of Ecology defines biological wastewater treatment as a process where “organisms assist in environmental cleanup through their own life-sustaining activities.” Instead of treating water with chemicals, algae, beneficial bacteria, fungi, metazoan, and protozoa are all microorganisms used to feed on the organic material, which is important to their lifecycle and also helps clean the water.

But, as microorganisms eat these materials, they produce methane and carbon dioxide. The resulting odors make it a less-than-desirable process for anyone living downwind of a wastewater treatment facility. This is a leading reason pH control is an important part of biological wastewater treatment.

The Benefits of pH Control in Biological Wastewater Treatment

A balanced or neutral pH is 7.0, but pH can range from 0 to 14. If it is higher than 7.0, wastewater is acidic and needs to be lowered. If it’s over 7.0, it’s alkaline and needs to be lowered. 

Before treatment begins, raw wastewater usually has a pH as low as 6 or as high as 8. When it’s high, it’s often caused by too much algae growth in open wastewater lagoons or the wastewater is already high because of industries that use lime, lye, or sodium hydroxide.

A low pH is often because of high ammonia levels. It’s the most common problem wastewater facilities face when they use activated sludge systems. By making sure you keep the pH balanced, your plant benefits in several ways. 

Heightened Efficiency

Plants with a healthy pH work efficiently. They’re less likely to run into imbalances that require extra effort to repeat water treatment steps to remove extra sludge, increase aeration, and grow healthy colonies of microorganisms. You treat water faster, better, and more cost-effectively.

Reduced Sludge Production

When your wastewater has a balanced pH, sludge production lowers and sludge disposal costs drop. You have less sludge to compost, incinerate, or haul to a landfill, which means you save money.

Improved Removal of Organic Matter

Healthy microorganisms remove more organic matter. When water is treated quickly, it lowers your energy consumption and saves your plant money. You’re also not releasing treated water to area lakes, streams, and rivers before it’s safe, which can lead to massive fines for raw sewage releases.

You’re not sacrificing quality for savings. You get both, which makes everyone happy.

Compliance With EPA Regulations

When a permit is issued, every wastewater treatment plant has EPA standards they must meet before releasing treated water to a water treatment plant for reuse or to a local body of water. If you’re not in compliance, the EPA can issue fines.

Fines for negligent violations range from $2,500 to $25,000 per day and up to a year in prison for the first violation or two years and up to $50,000 from the second year on. 

Intentional violations have fines of $5,000 to $50,000 per day and a 3-year sentence. Subsequent violations increase the fines to as much as $100,000 per day.

If a wastewater treatment plant violates its limits due to the acts of an industry that violated pre-treatment, the industrial business can be fined. It’s just as important for a company to pre-treat any industrial wastewater. In 2023, a beef processing plant in Nebraska paid $275,000 in fines for failing to properly treat its wastewater before releasing it. This wasn’t the first time, the company paid $1.2 million in fines in 2011.

What Happens if You Don’t Control Your Wastewater’s pH?

A lot can go wrong when you’re not monitoring and correcting your wastewater’s pH.  The microorganisms you use will slow down and grow at a slower pace. That allows harmful bacteria to increase their activity. As the balance of microorganisms and bacteria become imbalanced, your wastewater treatment plant loses stability. You’ll end up having to start over to have a thriving colony of microbes again.

Because your microorganisms aren’t thriving, organic matter and pollutants aren’t effectively removed from your wastewater. Sludge increases and becomes harder to get out of the wastewater, as it doesn’t settle as quickly.

Imbalanced pH levels can also corrode your equipment and damage your municipality’s infrastructure. It also puts area waterways at risk of contamination and problems with algal blooms, which harm the wildlife and aquatic life.

Plus, you face the fines from the EPA as listed above. Having properly treated wastewater is important before you release wastewater into a lake, ocean, or other body of water. You need a system that works quickly, correctly, and handles higher flow rates.

The EPA fined a Massachusetts wastewater treatment plant $200,000 for combined sewer overflows when heavy rain increased flow rates. As they’d been fined back in 1988 for the same issue, they must spend $200 million to separate their sewer and stormwater runoff systems. 

Tips for Maintaining Proper pH Control 

How do you ensure you have the right pH in every stage of wastewater treatment? There are several things to do. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Your wastewater treatment plant’s flow rates and contaminants play a role. A wastewater treatment plant dealing with mainly residential wastewater will have different needs than one surrounded by restaurants and businesses.

Add Acids or Alkalis 

When the pH is too high, acids need to be added. Plants may use carbon dioxide or sulfuric acid to lower the pH. If the pH is too low, lime or caustic soda are possible additions.

Add Buffering Agents 

Once the pH levels are balanced, they need to be stabilized. This is done with chemicals like carbonates or phosphates. Ideally, you want to take steps that stabilize pH from the start. Optimizing wastewater treatment processes is ideal.

Implement Real-Time pH Measurements 

Plant automation saves a lot of time and hassle. Look into sensors that continually measure pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and other important aspects listed in your EPA permits. When you have real-time information on your wastewater’s quality, it’s easy to take corrective measures to maintain proper pH control.

Optimize Your Plant’s Processes

Instead of needing to use things like lime or sulfuric acid, optimize your plant. Aeration, organic loading, and establishing healthy levels of nutrients are important. This requires having the best equipment with aerators, real-time monitoring, screening, and filtration. 

If you’re aiming for a functioning, effective biological wastewater system, you need the best equipment for the job. Talk to Lakeside Equipment, experts in clean water, to find out what your plant is doing well and what will help ensure your pH levels remain balanced and keep your system in perfect order.

The Future of Sludge Screening: Trends and Technological Advancements in 2024

With a new year come new laws and regulations. It also comes with new trends and technological advancements in the world of wastewater treatment. What are some of the improvements and changes in sludge screening that Lakeside Equipment is watching?

Law and Regulation Changes in 2024

In January 2024, the EPA is holding two public hearings on a proposal affecting meat processing plant wastewater. The EPA wants to impose stiffer restrictions on nitrogen limits and establish regulations on phosphorus. Oil and grease filters will be required to remove FOG from processing plant wastewater. 

Other limitations on high-salt wastewater and higher levels of E. coli bacteria are also being considered. The goal is to lower the pollutants municipal wastewater treatment plants deal with.

Certain states have their own wastewater regulation changes happening in 2024.

  • California – Water agencies are now allowed to recycle wastewater for use as drinking water in schools, homes, and businesses.
  • Florida – Florida’s HB 1379 bans the use of a septic system from all but rural homes. Homeowners must connect to the local sewer system or install their own on-site nutrient-reducing water treatment system.
  • North Carolina – On-site wastewater rules are changing, and one of the biggest is that the local health department now has some say in any improvement permit or construction project, including septic systems.

How will any of this affect sludge screening? Sludge screens help remove solids from wastewater before it moves to the next process in wastewater treatment. When people consider what they’re flushing, it helps wastewater treatment plants avoid unnecessary clogs and equipment wear and tear.

Changes and Improvements in Technology

Each year brings better technology and improvements in wastewater treatment equipment like sludge screening. With automation, the system can track increased flow rates and adjust motors and pumps as needed. They can increase or decrease the amount of chemicals used after analyzing the current water quality. 

Predictive maintenance eliminates sudden breakdowns that take parts of your system down for emergency repairs. Sealed oil within motors and components that are above the water level also makes repairs and maintenance easier than ever.

Here are nine products we offer that provide sludge screening benefits.

Raptor Complete Plant

Grit removal is an important part of wastewater treatment as it keeps items like bone fragments, coffee grounds, and sand from damaging components or clogging lines. A Raptor Complete Plant screens waste through a screw that pushes the dewatered waste through the chute. It also has a grit chamber for grit removal.

Raptor FalconRake Bar Screen

The FalconRake Bar Screen resembles a ladder. As wastewater enters the chamber, the steps of the bar screen capture solids and travel to the top of the ladder where they are deposited over the side. The bars then go back down to repeat the process. As this sludge screening equipment is vertical, it doesn’t require a lot of space. It’s ideal for fast removal of debris and high amounts of sludge.

Raptor Fine Screen

The bottom of the fine screen is a basket that spins in the wastewater collecting debris and sludge, while dewatering and compacting the waste matter in one system. Sludge travels up a chute to the collection bin. It uses a dual spray wash system to ensure organic matter remains in the wastewater flow, and rake teeth clean the screens to prevent jams and clogs.

Raptor Micro Strainer

The Raptor Micro Strainer is a system with a screw that screens, washes, compacts, and dewaters sludge and solids in one smaller system, which makes it a good choice for smaller facilities. As wastewater flows into the chamber, it draws sludge up the screw and is screened. 

A spray wash system keeps organic matter in the wastewater flow. Wastewater presses out of it, and the solids and sludge continue up the transport tube to a bin where it can become compost, head to incinerators, or go to a landfill.

Raptor Multi-Rake Bar Screen

The Raptor Multi-Rake Bar Screen is a vertical sludge screening rake that captures waste in the rake bars, brings them to the top for depositing into a container, and returns to get more. It’s a low-maintenance sludge screening option with rake teeth to help clean each bar while it’s in use.

Raptor Rotating Drum Screen

In districts where the amount of sludge is high, a rotating drum screen is helpful. A large basket sits in the bottom of the tank and captures sludge in screens that range in size from 0.02 to 0.25 inches. Like other systems, the sludge is compacted, dewatered, and pushed up the chute to a bin for composting, incinerating, or hauling to a landfill. It can reduce volumes by 50% and the weight of sludge by as much as 67%, which saves money.

Raptor Rotary Strainer Screen

Wastewater flows into a tank where there’s a rotating screen with mesh ranging from 0.01 to 0.1 inches. The cylinder sits horizontally and captures sludge while ensuring wastewater continues to the next steps through the opening below the screens. The blade assembly automatically cleans itself as waste leaves the chute and travels to a collection bin on the opposite side of the influent area. 

Raptor Septage Acceptance Plant

For wastewater districts that take septage from residential septic systems, the process of pumping septage from trucks, screening, washing, dewatering, and removing sludge at once is essential. A septage acceptance plant does that. Our system can accept two trucks to empty their loads at the same time.

Raptor Septage Complete Plant

In areas where the amount of fats, oils, and grease are high, such as a community where restaurants aren’t on sewer lines, our Septage Complete Plant is designed to handle high levels of sludge, leachate, FOG, and industrial waste. While screening sludge, it also handles grit removal.

Planning for Weather-Related Hurdles

If the past year showed anything, it’s that there is an incredible need to be proactive and plan for the unexpected. Historic flooding hit Vermont not once but twice, and one of those flooding events hit in December when snow is more likely. Instead, over a dozen of the state’s wastewater treatment plants dealt with sewage overflows. Flow rates were up to eight times more than normal because of days of rain.

Vermont is just one of many states where some wastewater treatment plants are still connected to storm drains. When rain hits, it flows into storm drains and straight into sewers where it floods treatment plants and strains the infrastructure. Adjusting for these flow rate increases is important, but you also need screens that can handle the increase.

When did you last have your system assessed? If your equipment is decades old, it’s time to analyze your facility’s current flow rates, what happens when there is heavy snow or rain, and how you can make improvements that ensure your system isn’t overwhelmed.

Talk to Lakeside Equipment’s experts about the latest technology in sludge screening. Our water treatment business is getting close to 100 years in business, and we are experts in the effects of changing weather patterns, the most cost-effective upgrades, and energy-efficiency measures that end up covering the cost of the upgrades you choose. Reach us online or send an email to let us know how we can help your wastewater treatment facility become more efficient and effective.