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How Does Automation Improve Wastewater Treatment?

Automation in a wastewater treatment plant delivers a number of benefits that help your bottom line, the communities you serve, and the environment. Have you stopped to consider the different ways that automation could be used without your facility?

Water & Wastes Digest reports that about 25% of the wastewater processed in U.S. treatment plants is released without being treated. Torrential rains and flooding are reasons wastewater may be released without treatment. Equipment failures and leaking pipes and lines are other reasons. Automation is key in stopping these issues from occurring.

Ten Benefits Automation Brings to Wastewater Treatment

How does automation benefit a wastewater treatment plant? Here are the top ten reasons you should consider automating your facility.

Aids in Quality Control

You can use automation to boost quality control. When you have an automated system checking oxygen levels and ensuring the water that’s released meets or even exceeds the limits set forth by the EPA, you have the perfect partner in quality control.

When anything is wrong, the system alerts you. You can go to your computer and make adjustments as needed. The workers in those areas can shut down equipment if maintenance is needed to correct a problem before it gets out of control. Issues are taken care of quickly and correctly.

Constant Creation of Helpful Data

Automation establishes the data your facility needs to cut expenses, improve the treatment process, and maximize your manpower. The data can show positive gains or negative ones. Use the negative information to make improvements and fuel growth. Use the positive to present what’s working well with your stakeholders.

You’ll also get much-needed insight into changes in flow rates. You’ll learn when people in the municipality use the most water, when things are slow, and what adjustments can be made during these peaks. Use all of this data to achieve the other benefits gained from the use of automation, such as improving water quality, efficiency, and lowering expenses.

Diagnoses Possible Issues in Advance

When you have an automated system, you learn about possible issues in advance. There are warning systems and alarms to let you know when a machine isn’t working properly. If flow rates or water quality drastically change, the system alerts you. You may need to increase the pump speeds or increase aeration.

Improves Efficiency

The UN reports that 2.3 billion people live in areas where over 25% of the freshwater sources have been withdrawn. About 17% live in agricultural regions facing severe water shortages.

When you incorporate automation into your wastewater treatment plant, water treatment processes become more efficient. The U.S. has dozens of pollutants that are classified as toxic. When a plant has wastewater that contains those toxins, it cannot release the wastewater into the sewers. They must first treat that industrial wastewater. It’s an expensive undertaking.

Automated machines can separate the sludge and water. The sludge can then be removed and the water is able to go on for additional treatment. You end up separating a larger percentage of water from the solids so that more of the water goes back into the lakes, rivers, or storage tanks for reuse.

Increases a Plant’s Capacity

In the U.S., plants process more than 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. When a plant is operating efficiently, it saves money. That money can be used to grow the plant’s capacity. In Ohio, one plant updated older equipment with automated control systems. That change increased the plant’s capacity from 53 million gallons per day to 70 million.

When your plant has a larger capacity, it lowers the risk of an overflow of raw sewage. Per the EPA, these fines start at $2,500 per day and go up to $100,000 daily.

Lessens the Need for Chemicals

Chemical additives are used to kill any remaining bacteria in the water. When you use chemicals like chlorine, they must evaporate from the water before it can be released to the environment or returned to the city’s water supply.

If you have an efficient wastewater treatment system with optimized aeration, the air bubbles create the oxygen needed for the bacteria to do their job effectively. They’ll remove more of the harmful contaminants, reducing the need for chemical additives.

Modernizes Older Equipment

Even if you cannot afford to upgrade all of your wastewater facility’s equipment, an automated system helps the equipment you have work as efficiently as possible. You can use data gathered from the automated control system to decide where your money is best spent on upgrades. It might be a pump one year and a grit removal system another.

Step by step, you can modernize your plant and end up with the most efficient wastewater treatment plant possible.

Optimizes Facility Staffing

Automation can do things that people used to do. That’s not a bad thing. You can redesignate your workers to other areas of the plant to perform more important tasks. Instead of sitting and watching wastewater coming out of a pipe to see if there is a change in the flow rate, your employees could be engaged in more meaningful activities like inspecting, maintaining, and cleaning equipment.

Provides Real-Time Visibility

When your plant is automated, you have a constant stream of real-time data at your fingertips. You know if flow rates are increasing or decreasing during certain hours, on specific days, or during specific months. You can use the information to make data-driven decisions.

Suppose you’re seeing an increased flow rate that has put you near capacity several times. You could use this information to discuss the need for an expansion in your district. When you lay out the cost of expansion vs. the potential fines you face if you release untreated sewage, the expansion becomes a necessity that the district can’t argue against.

Reduces Energy Consumption and Costs

Finally, when you have an efficient wastewater treatment system, it reduces your energy consumption. That lowers your monthly expenditures. Tests show that automation can reduce energy consumption by 30% without needing to replace older equipment or reduce the water quality.

An Expert in Wastewater Treatment Can Help You Design the Best System and Upgrades Plan

The Sharp Biological Nutrient Removal (SharpBNR) process control system is an energy-efficient automated system. It has system status and alarm functions that you can adjust from a computer or the HMI. You can also connect it to a SCADA system for comprehensive efficient operations. Monitor Dissolved Oxygen and Oxygen Reduction Potential and have the system adjust aeration as needed.

That’s just a small sampling of all that an automated system allows you to do. Contact Lakeside Equipment to talk to an expert. Discuss your goals and your budget, and let our team help you decide the best steps to take.

What Is a Closed-Loop Wastewater Treatment System?

Every household in the U.S. uses an average of 300 gallons per day. The majority of water usage involves flushing toilets, washing hands, and taking showers. You also have businesses using water. Almost half of the freshwater withdrawals in the U.S. are for thermoelectric power and irrigation systems. Public use accounts for about 12%.

In 2013, only eight states in the U.S. reported water shortages as being unlikely. Montana reported a statewide water shortage was likely in the next decade. Two dozen states said there were likely to be regional shortages. Fifteen states reported feeling that local shortages were likely.

As the population grows and water consumption continues, the risk of water shortages is very likely. In fact, 2021 saw the federal government declaring a water shortage on the Colorado River. Immediate changes to water policies were discussed and reductions were placed for Arizona and Nevada.

Every measure that municipalities and districts can take to conserve water is important. That’s where a closed-loop wastewater system comes in. Instead of drawing water from lakes, rivers, and other water sources, water enters a circular system where it is treated to meet water quality requirements and reused. Learn more about closed-loop wastewater systems and see if you could make it work well for your needs.

How a Closed-Loop Wastewater System Works

When you have a closed-loop system, you reuse the water that’s necessary for flushing toilets, washing hands and equipment, and manufacturing or producing components, foods, etc. Water is collected and sent to the wastewater equipment to be screened, cleaned, aerated, cleaned more, and filtered. It may be treated with chemicals to remove bacteria.

Once it meets the required specifications, it’s sent back to tanks where it can be reused. A closed-loop wastewater system can’t completely eliminate your need for water from your district. There’s always water loss to evaporation. But, this type of system can drastically reduce the amount of water needed from municipal water supplies.

What Industries Benefit From Closed-Loop Wastewater Treatment?

How can businesses use a closed-loop wastewater treatment system? Here are different areas where these systems can be incredibly helpful.

  1. Breweries

Breweries use a lot of water. There’s the water needed to make the beer, rinse the grains, and clean the equipment.

Several breweries have installed closed-loop water treatment plants to reduce the amount of wastewater that’s sent to sewers. Denmark’s Carlsberg is one of them.

Wastewater from the brewing process is treated in an on-site wastewater treatment plant. The biogas produced from wastewater treatment is used to heat the brewery. The cleaned wastewater is reused for cleaning. Instead of putting water down the drain, the brewery reuses almost every drop.

  1. Car Washes

Have you ever taken your car to an automatic car wash? Do you own a car wash? Studies have been completed on the amount of water used during a car wash.

With self-serve car washes, around 12 gallons are used per vehicle. A conveyor system uses about 44 gallons, while an in-bay car wash uses the most at 72.5 gallons on average. A closed-loop system is a great way for car washes to recapture the dirty water, clean it, and use it to wash more cars.

  1. Chip Fab

Millions of gallons of water are used every day in a large chip fabrication plant. Some of the nation’s largest chip fabs have started setting up closed-loop systems to reuse water. Others, such as Intel, have established systems that reduce the amount of water they use by over 40% and keep making improvements.

  1. Dairy Plants

In 2018, Hiland Dairy was recognized for its closed-loop initiative. The plant added an on-site wastewater treatment facility to process the whey wastewater. The lagoons the plant added can treat upwards of 250,000 gallons per day. The whey that’s separated from the wastewater is used as fertilizer for its feed crops.

  1. Distilleries

To make spirits, water is needed. It’s estimated that almost 10 gallons of water are used to make one liter of whatever spirit is being distilled. Gallons of cold water running over condensers ends up being incredibly wasteful.

To stop this waste, Laws Whiskey House in Colorado established a closed-loop system where water is recycled and cooled for reuse. This saves about three gallons of water per liter bottle of whiskey.

  1. Hotels/Resorts

A hotel or resort goes through a lot of water. Guest baths and showers, toilet usage, and kitchens use thousands of gallons of water each day. Plus, you have the laundry room where sheets and towels are laundered every day.

A closed-loop wastewater system can make a big difference in a hotel or resort’s water consumption. Water is filtered to remove lint and toilet paper. It then goes through aeration and cleaning. Solids are removed and composted or removed to waste facilities. Once the water is treated and meets required standards, the water is reused.

  1. Laundromats

A closed-loop wastewater treatment system can reduce a laundromat’s water consumption by as much as 80%. Once a load of laundry is completed, the wastewater is screened and sent into a tank where it is filtered to remove lint and grit from dirt. After going through additional cleaning steps and filters, it can go into water tanks to be reused to wash another load of laundry for someone else.

  1. Restaurants

In 2021, a company announced they’d created The Endless Sink, a stand-alone closed-loop wastewater system that cleans the water used to wash dishes again and again without needing to draw much additional water.

A closed-loop system is great for large kitchens that serve hundreds of diners. Oils and food particles are removed. The remaining soapy water is filtered and purified to remove all bacteria. From there, it can be used again at sinks or in dishwashers.

  1. Rest Stops

Interstate rest stops see thousands of visitors each day. Those visitors are there for bathroom breaks and to stretch their legs. Imagine how much water is used every time a toilet flushes and hands are washed.

Vermont is home to an amazing closed-loop wastewater system that serves thousands of people every day. Instead of overworking the septic system in this rural area, a closed-loop system cleans the water for reuse. Set right off the interstate, The Living Machine is set within a large glass solarium. A series of tanks contain plants, aquatic insects, snails, and worms.

When visitors stop to use the toilets, they flush the water and it goes into the septic system where solids settle and the rest of the wastewater travels to treatment tanks where aeration occurs. After aeration, the vegetation, animals, and insects do their part to complete the cleaning process.

At this point, the cleaned water returns to the toilets and sinks in the bathrooms where it’s reused and the cycle continues. Signs tell visitors about the process and provide notice that the water is not meant to be consumed.

It’s Time to Consider a Closed-Loop Wastewater System

Your company goes through thousands of gallons of water every day. It’s time to consider how you can lower your impact on the environment. What steps can you take to reduce the amount of water you’re using to wash equipment, process foods, or other processes that require a lot of water?

Work with the engineers at Lakeside Equipment on the closed-loop wastewater system your business needs. Whether you need a large system or a smaller one, we can help you. Since 1928, we’ve specialized in water treatment for industrial and municipal settings. Call us to learn more.

Why Should Wastewater Treatment Facilities Upgrade Regularly?

Municipalities across the U.S. have one of two types of sewer systems. A separate sanitary sewer may be what most people assume is in their city. It’s a sewer where water from showers, sinks, and toilets goes into the sewers and travels to wastewater treatment plants. In the first half of the 1900s, combined sewers were also allowed. With these systems, wastewater from homes and businesses goes into sewers, but so does storm runoff from rains and melting snow.

When was the last time your facility was upgraded? Planning needs to be a key consideration to ensure your wastewater treatment plant is managing flow rates of wastewater and, possibly, stormwater runoff. If it’s been a while since your district has discussed facility upgrades, you’re long overdue. It’s time to ask these questions.

What Type of Sewer System Do We Have?

What type of sewer system does your municipality have? Are you a separate sanitary sewer system? Generally, you won’t face too much strain with higher flow rates, but water can enter the system unexpectedly during heavy rains. If there are any leaking seals, cracks in the sewer system, or failing connections, stormwater runoff may leak into your system unexpectedly.

If there is a blockage, it can cause wastewater to back up and overflow in areas of your plant. Failing equipment and vandalism are other risks separate sanitary sewer wastewater treatment plants face. This can cause sewer overflows or create issues in your wastewater treatment plant’s collection system.

You may have an older wastewater treatment plant that is a combined sewer. Extremely heavy rainfall can wreak havoc on your system. If there are flooding rains, your plant could end up with overflow that has to be released as untreated sewage into a nearby lake or river. This can be disastrous.

In 1994, the EPA took steps to reduce the number of combined sewer systems in the U.S. Ideally, the hopes were that municipalities would separate their sewer systems and storm runoff drains. By 2000, the U.S. Congress required remaining cities and towns with combined sewer systems to meet the EPA’s guidelines requiring at least nine controls in place to reduce the impact of sewage overflows, such as retention basins or expanding the wastewater treatment facility’s capacity.

You might think that in 20+ years since the EPA’s guidelines changed that all remaining combined sewer systems had been corrected. It’s not the case. One Vermont city facing such changes drafted its proposal in 2019. It involves new valve vaults, new flow controls, a larger storage tank, a new screening structure, and a new grinder pumping station. Plus, miles of sewer lines need to be added or improved. The upgrades are targeted to be completed by 2032.

Have We Been Fined or Warned Recently? If So, Why?

Has your wastewater treatment plant received fines or warnings lately? When a wastewater treatment plant receives its permits, it’s given limits to meet before the wastewater is released. A plant has to properly treat wastewater to achieve the goals set forth in permits.

The city of Wapato, Washington, was warned and agreed to pay the EPA $25,750 in penalties for discharging treated wastewater that exceeded the limits listed in the facility’s permits. Zinc was one of the pollutants triggering the warning and fine.

If your equipment isn’t doing all it should, it’s time to evaluate the equipment and processes you have in place. Make upgrades as needed to ensure you’re able to treat wastewater correctly before it’s discharged. Adding new pumps, larger storage tanks, and better aeration systems all help improve efficiency. Computerized equipment that measures increasing and decreasing flows is another cost-effective change to consider.

What Are Our Peak Flow Rates and What’s Our Capacity?

You have a permit from the government that states the measures you must meet. It includes things like how much chlorine can remain in treated wastewater that you send back to the public water system or a local river or lake.

Another consideration is how much wastewater comes into your treatment plant each day and how much your equipment is capable of handling. Your equipment needs to be able to handle peak flows. Leaving a little extra room for the unexpected is helpful.

If you’re finding your plant is often at capacity, it’s time to consider making upgrades. As more people or businesses come to town, water usage increases. That means more wastewater entering the sewers. Your plant needs to be able to handle the growth.

What happens if new developments are leading to more wastewater than expected. Say a new condo complex comes in and planners estimate an average of 70 gallons per day from each resident. But, some people in those condos are using far more. An expert will need to rule out leaking toilet seals or similar issues. If it’s simply that people are using more water than estimated, it can become a headache. You can’t kick people out of their homes, so you have to look at growing the capacity of your plant.

Have Weather Patterns Shifted Unexpectedly?

What about the weather in your area? Global warming is causing some unexpected shifts in weather patterns that are impacting cities’ wastewater treatment systems. Detroit saw flooding after heavy rainfall hit in mid-March. The excessive rainfall caused a river to flood and back up the sewer system. Pumping systems became overwhelmed, so untreated sewage had to be released elsewhere.

Back in 2020, Concord, California’s wastewater treatment plant was used to flow rates of around 50 million gallons a day. Flooding rains led to an increase to 200 million gallons. The facility couldn’t keep up with it. While the plant is a separate sanitary wastewater system, stormwater entered through leaking mains and pipes. The city had to divert incoming wastewater and move some into storage tanks to be treated at a later date.

Have We Addressed Ways to Boost Efficiency?

Finally, look at your plant’s efficiency. If there are cost-effective ways to boost efficiency, make the improvements. You might consider using available grants or government loans to add solar panels to reduce your facility’s electricity rates. Wind power is another option.

You might want to upgrade old equipment for newer pumps and motors that don’t use as much power. For example, a Magna Rotor Aerator offers high efficiency for a lower operating cost. Even maintenance costs are reduced thanks to a hinged access panel. Aeration will cost less, saving money on electricity consumption, so the money you spend pays for itself through the savings you gain.

Alternative fuel is another idea to embrace. Instead of using oil, propane, or electric heaters to keep your workers warm enough in colder months, upgrade to a heating system that captures something you have plenty of within your plant. Add systems that capture methane and convert it into gas that can heat your facility.

Are you interested in learning more about upgrades that improve efficiency, lower your overall costs, and ensure you can meet your plant’s increased flow rates? Talk to the experts at Lakeside Equipment. Our engineers have decades of experience and help ensure you have a quality solution to ensure you have a wastewater treatment plant that meets, if not exceeds, your municipality’s needs.

How Can Automation Help Your Plant Streamline Wastewater Treatment?

Have you ever considered the benefits of automation at your wastewater treatment plant? Streamlining treatment processes is essential in today’s world. Getting water clean and returned to homes, businesses, and bodies of water needs to happen quickly.

Wastewater treatment is an essential industry in the U.S. While it’s hard to imagine running out of water, it’s possible. Changing weather patterns are finding temperatures heating up, and some areas see very little rainfall.

How can the nation protect the one thing people need to survive? Wastewater treatment is one of the most critical steps. Instead of losing valuable water to environmental factors like evaporation, municipalities can clean the water, move it to storage tanks and ponds, and send it back out to homes and businesses for reuse. Automation can help streamline wastewater treatment processes like this.

Parts of the U.S. Face a Water Crisis

So much of a person’s daily routine involves water. Washing hands to lower the risk of disease is only part of it. Showers, toilet flushes, and the water a person needs to stay hydrated all factor into daily water use. The average person uses over 80 gallons of water a day.

You also have factories across the nation that rely on water for operations. An extrusion machine responsible for making things like the brake cables in cars needs water to cool the product to set the plastic coatings properly and prevent ovality or irregularity when it goes onto the spool. A food manufacturing plant uses water to wash food items before packaging, such as a poultry processing plant.

Almost half of the water drawn from freshwater sources is used in the creation of thermoelectric power. This is why it’s crucial to find other ways to generate electricity, such as solar or wind.

Even smaller businesses use a lot of water. Restaurants use a lot of water for sanitization and cooking. A grocery store needs water for cleaning tasks, bakery, deli, and butcher departments, and produce where misters keep vegetables fresh.

Looking at the National Centers for Environmental Information, several states had deficient precipitation levels during 2020. According to the reports, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Montana were the lowest.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index Rank listed eight states as the worst in the U.S.: California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

In the fall of 2021, Lake Mead’s levels were low enough that the U.S. declared a water shortage. Arizona, Mexico, and Nevada all had their apportionments reduced by as much as 18%. This meant homeowners and business owners in dozens of cities and towns must reduce water consumption. One of the most significant effects is on farmers and ranchers who must find other ways to water crops and take care of their livestock.

When primary water sources like Lake Mead experience shortages, the effects can lead to hardship. Cities can overcome these shortages through efficient wastewater treatment plants and industrial wastewater treatment plants. Automation is one way to ensure a plant operates efficiently.

What Happens During Wastewater Treatment

Primary treatment steps in a wastewater treatment plant include screening out items like rocks, sticks, trash, and even animals like mice or rats that may find their way into sewers. Once screened from the wastewater, these items go to a landfill.

Pumps move the remaining wastewater into aeration tanks, where circulation adds oxygen to start the treatment process. Aeration helps oxygenate the wastewater to begin the breakdown of organic matter. Grit like coffee grounds and sand settle to the bottom of the tanks, where it’s removed and taken to compost piles or landfills. Excess water drains from the grit and goes to the next steps in wastewater treatment. The goal is to get as much water out of grit and solids as possible.

You have pumps, blowers, mixers, and motors all working together. They use energy and may need employees carefully monitoring levels of wastewater coming in. With automation, you save money by having technology tracking everything and turning things on and off as needed. Technology matches flow rates, maximizing performance and efficiency.

In sedimentation tanks, the sludge settles and is removed to digesters. Lighter materials like fat and oil rise to the surface, where they can be removed and added to sludge. Some water is added to the digesters, while the rest of it may go through filters to start cleaning any microscopic particles.

The waste in digesters is given time to break down, removing odor and bacteria. It can then go to landfills or be used as a fertilizer. The cleaner water goes into tanks where chemicals like chlorine are added to kill any remaining bacteria. Facilities may use UV lighting to remove excess chlorine before it’s returned to bodies of water or storage tanks for the public water system.

Water samples are drawn and tested throughout the process to collect essential data. It’s a time-consuming process.

Before wastewater can be released to the environment or public water systems, it must meet FDA standards. If it doesn’t and is released anyway, plants face hefty fines. Final water quality is another area where automation can make a difference.

How Can Automation Help?

Your aeration tanks and basins have blowers and pumps that use up to 60% of your plant’s energy. Are yours automated, or do you have employees turning them on and off as needed? Automation streamlines this and helps you avoid mistakes that can become costly if raw sewage is released.

The critical goals of wastewater treatment are to remove bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants and ensure ammonium, phosphate, and nitrogen levels are low before the water is released. Before release, you need to meet pH levels and remove any chemical disinfectants like chlorine. Properly cleaning wastewater requires much attention to water samples and blower rates. If you have automation monitoring the levels and adjusting as needed, you save money.

Plus, incoming wastewater flow rates change from one hour to the next. You might have more water coming in during peak hours before and after work and school and when manufacturing plants operate. When the members of your municipality are cooking meals, taking showers or baths, and doing laundry, the wastewater coming into the plant through sewer lines increases. When people are sleeping or factories are shut down, the flow is minimal.

Instead of having pumps and motors running at the same speeds during the day and night, automation adjusts their speeds to match the flow rates. That’s another one of the ways automation helps streamline your operations.

Talk to Us

How can we help? Lakeside Equipment’s SharpBNR Process Control system allows you real-time monitoring of your plant. Not only does it help improve energy efficiency, but it also works in tandem with your motors to ensure rotors adjust as needed to achieve the optimal oxygen levels for aeration.

Talk to us about SharpBNR Process Control and how it works with your SCADA system to streamline your wastewater treatment plant. Our experts can help you with equipment upgrades that ensure water is cleaned effectively, even if flow rates suddenly increase and put more demand on your equipment’s pumps and motors. We’d love to talk to you about streamlining your plant’s efficiency with automation. Give us a call.

Don’t Wait Until Violations or Compliance Warnings to Upgrade Your Wastewater Treatment Plant

When did you last update your wastewater treatment plant? Have you considered the benefits of upgrading? Some municipalities don’t plan improvements until violations or compliance warnings hit. Save money by making upgrades to your wastewater treatment plant now rather than when it’s too late.

Why would you need to make changes if you haven’t been notified of a violation? One of the biggest reasons is that the guidelines change as studies lead to new information. Guidelines for wastewater treatment change from time to time. It’s up to you to keep up with the changes.

2022 Changes to Final Effluent Guidelines

The EPA’s Final Effluent Guidelines Program was published on January 11, 2021. Already, several changes have been recommended for Preliminary Plan 15. They include:

  • Addressing PFAS discharges in chromium electroplating facilities and operations
  • Altering discharge standards for the meat and poultry industry, particularly focusing on phosphorus and nitrogen
  • Changing the limits for OCPSF (Organic Chemicals, Plastics, and Synthetic Fibers) regarding PFAS
  • Creating Supplemental Rulemaking for Steam Electric Power Generating (coal power plants)
  • Publishing the results of completed studies regarding PFAS in various industries, including canned seafood, explosives, landfills, metal products/machinery, soap/detergent, etc.
  • Studying PFAS discharges from landfills, carpet manufacturers, and textile mills

When guidelines change, industries need to keep up. Does your plant have a wastewater treatment facility to treat water before releasing it to a body of water or sewer? It’s important to make the necessary upgrades to comply with the regulations. If you manage a wastewater treatment facility for your municipality, it’s also essential to make sure you’re meeting current EPA guidelines.

The Clean Waters Act Applies to the Majority of People

In the U.S., any municipality, business, or person is prohibited from discharging pollutants into a body of water. The only exception is a party named on a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. This permit authorizes the permit holder to release pollutants (up to the specified level).

Wastewater treatment plants have NPDES permits, but they also have rules they must follow. Wastewater is screened to remove things like wrappers, baby wipes, etc. It may go through grinder pumps to break heavier materials. It then goes through grit removal, primary sedimentation, and secondary treatment. In secondary treatment, organic matter is removed using methods like aeration and secondary clarification.

When the water is treated, and bacteria and chemical agents (if used) have done their part, the remaining cleaned water must meet the levels outlined in the permit. There are maximum levels given for the agency’s Priority Pollutant List, which covers pollutants like ammonia nitrogen, arsenic, asbestos, benzene, chloroform, cyanide, lead, mercury, etc. If the wastewater doesn’t meet these levels, problems arise.

What happens if you don’t have an NPDES permit and discharge effluent or other illegal materials? The EPA can fine you up to $16,000 per day, with a cap of $187,500 per discharge.

Fines Can Strain Your Finances

When caught, the fines for compliance warnings and violations can be costly. Here are a few cases and the total fines and penalties that industries and municipalities received.

  1. American Zinc

For years, American Zinc allowed processed wastewater to go into the stormwater stream, releasing excessive levels of cadmium and zinc into Aquashicola Creek. In addition, the company had several air pollution violations. A penalty of $3.3 million was levied against the company.

American Zinc was ordered to implement $4.3 million in upgrades. The order included adding equipment to detect leaks, upgrading their monitoring equipment, and developing a plan to control stormwater.

  1. Churchill Downs

Factories and municipalities are not the only ones to face fines related to improper wastewater disposal. Churchill Downs was fined for years of violations in New Orleans. Over 500 horses are housed in the stables, and the manure and urine in the stables, wash racks, and walkways led to untreated wastewater going into the municipal stormwater system.

As little as half an inch of rain caused manure, urine, horse shampoo, gray water, etc., to travel from the Churchill Downs to storm drains leading to the London Avenue Canal. From there, the untreated sewage ended up in Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. These events happened over 250 times in six years, leading to close to $2.8 million in civil penalties.

In addition, Churchill Downs must spend an estimated $5.6 million to establish a system that prevents all raw sewage from reaching New Orleans’s stormwater system. This likely means the development of a small wastewater treatment plant at the facility.

  1. The City of Corpus Christie, Texas

Corpus Christie, Texas, is home to six wastewater treatment facilities and over 1,250 miles of sewer pipes. Plus, there are dozens of lift stations. While the city’s wastewater plants have NPDES permits, they were caught exceeding the effluent limits. While it was unintentional, they were fined $1.136 million in penalties.

Some of the problems were caused by pipe blockages and grease, but it also came down to the equipment not keeping up with population growth. The city must clear the blockages, clean all sewer lines, improve maintenance, and better monitor plant operations and capacity. The improvements needed will cost around $600 million and will take 15 years to complete.

  1. Cleveland Cliffs Burns Harbor Facility

The EPA found that this steel mill released ammonia nitrogen and cyanide into the East Branch of the Little Calumet River in Indiana. Fish were dying, and people swimming at nearby beaches were exposed to these toxins. A pump failure at the steel mill’s wastewater treatment plant was blamed.

Civil penalties of just over $3 million were levied, with half of those fines being paid by Indiana. Cleveland Cliffs Burns Harbor Facility also has to install an ammonia-N removal system by 2025 and use a lined storage pond if there is a pump failure in the future.

  1. DuPont

In Orange, Texas, DuPont and Performance Materials NA, Inc. were ordered to pay $3.1 in civil penalties and legal fees for hazardous waste, air, and water pollution. Specific to the Clean Water Act, the facility released wastewater without a proper permit. Pollutants from the wastewater ended up in the Sabine River Basin.

In addition to the fine, DuPont needs to have a third party inspect the wastewater treatment system to ensure it meets the requirements set forth in the permit.

  1. The City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi

In 2020, the EPA fined Hattiesburg $165,000 in civil penalties and $220,000 in a Supplemental Environmental Project after sewer overflows led to violations of the Clean Water Act and the city’s NPDES permit.

In addition to the fines, the city must spend about $14.2 million on improvements by the end of 2024. Required improvements include inspections and repairs to sewer lines and force mains, upgrades in the pump stations, and equipment to monitor flow rates. Plus, authorities also ordered enhanced training for management and workers, grease controls, an emergency response plan, and remote monitoring.

What Can You Do

The best way to avoid fines and penalties is by paying attention to the terms of your permit. Even if you think you meet the regulations, it doesn’t hurt to go back over everything. Are there any limits where your facility often comes close to missing the mark?

Do you perform maintenance regularly? If you find it hard to keep up, one of the first upgrades you should make is to look at the machinery that reduces the need for constant maintenance. Equipment with submerged bearings will be harder to maintain. Stainless steel construction won’t rust or corrode as quickly, which improves longevity.

Since 1928, Lakeside Equipment’s been helping businesses and municipalities meet their goals for clean water. Talk to our experts to learn how to upgrade your municipality’s wastewater treatment plant in ways that improve performance and efficiency while also staying cost-effective.

Unique Discoveries That Are Improving Wastewater Treatment Steps

Wastewater treatment plants fill many roles. The water that’s treated and released to bodies of water must be treated in a way that protects fish, shellfish, and other wildlife. If it goes back into the drinking water supply, it must be safely treated before the public consumes it. It also has to protect the general public who swim in water coming from treatment plants.

The EPA sets water quality standards for all wastewater treatment plants to meet. If a facility fails to do this, it can lead to fines and negative press. For this reason, experts in wastewater continue to look for ways to improve wastewater treatment. With more than 30 billion gallons of water treated every day, things still can slip through the cracks. Here are some recent discoveries that can help return cleaner water to the environment.


When ground, the shells of crabs, lobster, and shrimp create a fibrous substance that binds to things. It’s touted as helping with wound care as it causes the blood to clot. It’s also studied as a means for lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. People with high blood pressure use it as a salt substitute.

The company Tidal Vision is researching the use of chitosan to create a liquid solution that removes metals like iron and copper from stormwater runoff and wastewater. It reduces the amount of waste going into landfills, and it can reduce costs as this is a substance that is thrown away by seafood manufacturers and restaurants every day.

Magnetic Nanosponges

Researchers are studying beneficial magnetic nanosponges in water treatment, especially when treating wastewater in agricultural settings. Microscopic holes allow molecules to travel through the sponge-like structures at record speeds. Not only is this helping with efficient water treatment, but it’s also aiding with the capture of fuel from the wastewater treatment process.

In the study, a 75% mixture of magnetic nanosponges excelled at removing contaminants in the sedimentation tanks and farm pits where the tests were run. Nanosponges speed up that reaction time by 6x, allowing optimal water treatment. This improves efficiency and is more cost-effective than current wastewater filtration steps.

Until now, sponges haven’t had the ideal pore sizes for the split of hydrogen and oxygen, which impacts how well plants can convert the CO2 into fuel that can be used for things like heating a facility. With the use of nanosponges, the optimal pore sizes aid the division, so the structures prove beneficial both at cleaning wastewater and converting the gases to usable fuel.


Stop and think about the results of wastewater treatment, and we’re not talking about the cleaned water that can return to public water supplies or bodies of water. Plants create greenhouse gases, such as methane. Methane is often burned to heat or power plants, but that produces carbon dioxide that’s released into the environment. Carbon dioxide may not smell like methane, but it’s still harmful to the environment.

Researchers in Arizona have been studying the benefits of using microalgae to process these greenhouse gases. The microalgae are in ponds and feed on methane and carbon dioxide that results from wastewater treatment.

As the algae feed on the gases, methane is captured as a more valuable form of biomethane for power and heat. The carbon dioxide is fully ingested and helps the algae multiply. The excess algae are rich in omega-3 fatty acids beneficial in food products for both animals and humans.

Microbial Ecosystems

One area that has been researched for several decades is microbial ecosystems. There are thousands of microbes, and newer discoveries improve water treatment steps. While aeration is one of the most common steps in wastewater, it also uses a lot of energy. As much as 80% of a plant’s operating costs are linked to aeration.

Microbial ecosystems help by eliminating some of the chemical additives and excessive use of aeration. Lowering chemical additives helps lower the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater sludge.

In the 1990s, researchers discovered anaerobic ammonium oxidation bacteria (anammox) could convert ammonia in waste and farm runoff to nitrogen gas. While some aeration was still required, the amount was far lower.

The microbes took up space, but that issue was resolved by introducing granular pellets that required 25% less space and helped lower operating costs by as much as 30%. A Dutch town became the first to embrace the microbe pellets for both industrial and residential wastewater, and it was successful in both areas.

Research on microbial ecosystems didn’t stop with that project. A Danish university uncovered a new type of ammonia oxidation bacteria known as comammox in 2015. Comammox was a massive discovery as they could process the ammonia without requiring any oxygen. However, testing is still ongoing to see if they can eliminate the need for aeration in wastewater treatment facilities.


A California company specializing in oxygenation is rapidly expanding the use of equipment that creates nanobubbles to aid in water treatment. Moleaer is investing $9 million to work with universities across the country to study all of the benefits and uses of nanobubbles in food manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and agriculture.

While aeration is a critical step in wastewater treatment, most mixers stir and aerate with the bubble sizes you’d expect in water. Nanobubbles are tiny. They’re so little, you cannot see them. In fact, nanobubbles are reportedly more than 2,000 times smaller than a grain of salt. Due to their size, they remain in the water for longer, increasing the amount of oxygen within the water.

A professor at UCLA reported that nanobubbles could transfer oxygen at rates of 85%, which is far greater than the typical average of 2%. When this technology is used, it can reduce the need for chemicals in wastewater treatment and reduce operating budgets.

PHA Creation

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a polymer that bacteria can produce when they digest sewage. This is an important study as PHA can be converted into biodegradable plastic. A plant in the Netherlands is currently researching the use of bacteria to create PHA bioplastic that can be used in manufacturing in areas where a water-resistant, flame-retardant biodegradable composite is needed, such as construction materials.


Researchers at the National University of Singapore came across a new strain of bacteria that proved effective at removing nitrogen and phosphorus from raw sewage. The microbe named Thauera sp. strain SND5 was found in a wastewater treatment plant, but it behaved differently, catching Associate Professor He Jianzhong’s attention.

Bacteria are already used in wastewater treatment to purify the water, but most can handle one compound. SND5 was the first bacteria he’d seen that was able to multitask. Because this bacterium can take care of both nitrogen and phosphorus simultaneously, it has the potential of being more effective at a lower cost.

Research is ongoing, and discoveries occur each year. What can wastewater treatment plants do in the meantime? One of the best steps to take is to do a walkthrough of your plant’s equipment to explore the equipment’s age, how often it breaks down or requires maintenance, and what’s driving your plant’s utility costs up.

When you sit down and look at every aspect of your wastewater treatment plant’s operating costs, successes, and failures, it helps you realize where there is room for improvement. That’s when you talk to an expert in wastewater treatment plant equipment and design.

Lakeside Equipment’s experts help you find ways to improve performance, lower costs, and enhance efficiency. Call us to schedule a consultation.

Ten Common Misunderstandings About Storm Runoff and Sewage Treatment Steps

In the early 1900s, poor water quality led to about 100 cases of typhoid fever (a waterborne disease) per 100,000 people. As cities and states started looking into water treatment steps by 1920, the numbers dropped to about 34 cases per 100,000 people. Today, there are no cases of typhoid fever. Wastewater treatment is critical to having clean drinking water.

Even with all of the improvements, there are things people do not understand. One is that storm runoff and sewage treatment are not the same. Here are ten common misunderstandings regarding storm runoff and sewage treatment in the U.S.

Storm Runoff Is Just Rainwater, So It Doesn’t Need to Be Cleaned

When it rains, water that collects in roadways has to go somewhere. Cities and towns have gulleys and ditches where the rainwater goes to divert it to streams and other bodies of water. The runoff travels into city drains and channels that lead to rivers, lakes, and oceans. In a town, you’ll have gulleys and ditches instead.

People often think it’s just rainwater, so it’s clean and won’t harm the bodies of water it ends up in. This is incorrect. Along the way, it picks up motor oil and other automotive fluids that leak from cars traveling on the streets. Dirt, gravel, bark mulch, trash, leaves, grass clippings, and branches end up in it. They can clog the channels and cause back-ups. If there’s no clog, the garbage that the storm runoff picks up travels to the lakes and streams, too.

Cities and Towns Are Equipped for Weird Weather

Strange weather patterns are happening more than before. While wastewater treatment plants and state wastewater districts do what they can to prepare for the unexpected, it’s impossible to predict unusual weather patterns.

For years, the infrastructure has been failing due to older sewer lines, capacity issues, and budgetary concerns. It’s a leading reason that you see cities struggling with flooding and not being designed to handle the additional volume of storm runoff and flooding in wastewater treatment plants. Updating equipment to handle increasing flow rates is essential.

People Have No Impact on Storm Runoff Pollution

There’s another problem with storm runoff. People residing in communities where storm drains exist don’t realize that some of their habits are poisoning the streams and lakes. People may pour their motor oil, cooking oil, or unnecessary cleaners into a storm drain, and those contaminants end up in the bodies of water. Washing cars in a driveway leads to various chemicals traveling to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and oceans.

In the winter months, cities and towns that treat roads with salt send the melted snow and salt into nearby bodies of water. Metals from rusting vehicles and vehicle parts also make their way into storm drains and ditches.

Storm Runoff Always Goes to a Wastewater Treatment Plant

Another misconception is that stormwater goes through a wastewater treatment plant along with sewer water. This is not true. Some cities have plants that treat both, but it’s not common.

Storm runoff travels into storm drains that connect to storm sewers leading to waterways in most areas and never gets treated. In rural areas, there are usually ditches along roadways that connect to culverts that allow the storm runoff to travel to a nearby stream.

Rural Storm Runoff Isn’t as Bad as Urban Runoff or Industrial Wastewater

People often think that the runoff in rural areas isn’t as harmful as storm runoff in cities or industrial areas. This is incorrect. One of the worst pollutants in storm runoff is the fertilizer and manure used on farms and lawn treatments in residential areas.

Nutrients found in manure and fertilizer, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, travel to streams and eventually reach lakes. There, they feed algae blooms that can be harmful to people and animals.

Water Treatment Plants Are Always Designed To Handle Industrial Wastewater

A wastewater treatment plant does treat water from residences and businesses. Sometimes, an industrial manufacturer or company needs to install a wastewater treatment plant to pre-treat water before it goes to the sewers.

An on-site wastewater treatment plant helps a business recover and reuse water, reducing the volume of water drawn from municipal water supplies. Plus, it helps reduce the strain on area wastewater treatment plants. As industrial settings may create wastewater with heavier volumes of toxic chemicals, pre-treatment is critical.

Sewage Treatment Takes Care of All Pollutants

Sewage treatment doesn’t take care of all pollutants. The EPA sets guidelines that wastewater treatment plants meet, but some pharmaceuticals still get through. One study found that medications like birth control pills were getting through wastewater treatment processes and making their way to lakes, rivers, and oceans, affecting the reproductive health of fish.

Grinder Pumps End Issues With Everything People Flush

When people flush items they believe are flushable, it can be problematic to a wastewater treatment plant. Though it says “flushable” on the packaging, Flushable wipes do not dissolve in water. They get caught up on equipment at a treatment facility, and they can also create clogs in pipes. The same is true of “flushable” cat litter. Throw them out!

Some facilities add grinder pumps to help break down these items and prevent clogs. Grinder pumps can help, but it’s still best if people stop putting them into sewer systems and septic tanks.

There’s Little Home and Business Owners Can Do to Stop Pollution

Homeowners and business owners can do a lot to help stop water pollution. Carefully consider the products used for cleaning items like toilets, sinks, dishes, clothing, etc. Avoid items that contain harsh chemicals, phosphorus, etc. Aim for environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Watch what you flush down a toilet. Toilet paper that’s two- or three-ply takes longer to break down. If you prefer thicker toilet paper, remember that it may clog your pipes. If you have a septic system, ask your septic company what they recommend. Many will tell you never to flush anything other than one-ply.

Do not put oils, especially cooking oil, down the drain. Avoid putting coffee grounds and bones down the sink if you use a grinder pump or garbage disposer.

Wastewater Treatment Plants Always Handle Heavy Loads

When wastewater and storm runoff are treated together in a wastewater treatment plant, the system must be capable of handling surges. You could have staff constantly watching for rising levels of sewer water, but it’s wiser to invest in wastewater processing equipment designed to address these sudden increases.

A SharpBNR Process Control is an example. If there’s a surge, the computerized system adjusts aeration and other aspects of wastewater treatment to ensure the water is treated appropriately before it’s released.

Having equipment that can handle increased flow rates is also worth considering. If your plant is upgraded to allow for excess capacity, it’s ready to take on heavy loads. Otherwise, raw sewage is released to prevent flooding within the wastewater treatment plant, which can damage the environment and lead to fines.

Talk to Lakeside Equipment’s experts in wastewater treatment equipment to ensure your plant is equipped for increases in sewer water. When you have considered for increased caused by changing weather patterns or excessive use from area residents, you’re protected from having to release raw sewage while also helping the environment. Call us to learn more about maximizing your plant’s effective wastewater treatment processes.

Has Your Wastewater Treatment System Been Designed for Unusual Weather Patterns?

At the end of 2021, Bellingham, Washington, experienced some of the heaviest rainfall the city has seen. The city received close to two feet of rain in just three months. A blizzard hit Hawaii’s mountains, while low-lying regions in Oahu saw up to ten inches of rain, and Maui got more than a foot over just a few days.

Things haven’t eased up in 2022. The East Coast recently experienced a Nor’easter that left some areas with more than two feet of snow. New York City had already experienced too much water, with the remnants of September’s Hurricane Ida dropping more than six inches of water, resulting in massive flooding and sewage system failures.

When Hurricane Ida hit New York City, the city’s sewer system was designed to handle less than two inches of rain per hour. It led to stormwater backing up into people’s homes and subways. Is your wastewater treatment system set up for unusual weather patterns?

Weather Patterns Are Changing

Weather patterns are changing, and areas with older stormwater systems see the effects. When it rains or snow melts, the excess water goes into storm drains. From there, it creates several problems. With some stormwater systems, the water flows into channels that go to area streams, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Close to 800 cities and towns have combined sewer systems. A combined sewer system is one where stormwater and wastewater are collected into the same system and go to a wastewater treatment plant for processing. With both of these designs, excessive rain causes significant issues.

If there are heavy rains, the channels for stormwater runoff may fill up and have no more room. That water has to go somewhere. It ends up in people’s houses and creates rivers in the streets. All of that flooding causes costly damage, but it also puts people’s lives in jeopardy. As the water levels rise, anyone trying to drive to safety can get caught up in it.

During Hurricane Ida, dozens of people died in vehicles overtaken by floodwaters. In NYC, more than 800 people had to be rescued from the city’s subways. Close to a dozen people were killed when their basements flooded.

With a combined sewer system, the stormwater and wastewater come in too fast for the plant to handle. Some of the untreated sewage must be released to prevent a catastrophe. Bacteria and other contaminants end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, where people can become ill if they eat shellfish from the contaminated area or swim in it.

It’s impossible to know in advance if unusual weather patterns will hit your municipality. That’s a leading reason why every wastewater and water treatment facility must be designed to withstand flooding. How do you do that when you can’t tell when a blizzard or heavy rainfall will happen? Having a well-designed stormwater management system is essential.

Components in a Stormwater Management System

Stormwater pump systems help push the water away from low-lying areas to prevent flooding. Sometimes, cities are on a slope, so gravity helps move water downhill to a water source. Other regions are at sea level and experience a higher level of flooding. It’s important to make sure this water is pumped to ponds and other water sources. Stormwater pump stations must be designed to move water quickly from one area to another.

Steps to Take to Prevent the Release of Untreated Sewage

What can you do to prevent a worst-case scenario? Start by asking how old your system is? If your wastewater system was designed 40 years ago and the population has tripled, you may not be ready for heavy flooding, especially with a combined sewer system.

Go through your plant and look at the capacity and rates for your pumps, rakes, screens, and other wastewater treatment equipment. Is your system designed for heavy floods? What can you upgrade to get it ready?

The EPA has several rules that apply to combined sewer systems. If your equipment is older, these nine areas must be addressed, and it’s easy to do this through wastewater treatment upgrades.

  1. Routine maintenance – All equipment should undergo routine maintenance and cleaning. To make this easier, look for low-maintenance equipment that’s above the water for easy access. Grit removal systems filter out grit, such as sand and gravel, to help prevent wear and tear on the components.
  2. Storage system capacity – If your stormwater system has a screw pump, you need to make sure that a wet well is large enough to fit the volume of water collected during a heavy storm. Have secondary ponds or storage areas to collect the water until your plant can handle more stormwater. Planning for more than is required is one way to ensure you have enough capacity.
  3. Maximized flow rates – Purchase equipment that adjusts to increasing flow rates to prevent issues. For example, a Type C Enclosed Screw Pump can move anywhere from 540 gallons per minute to more than 35,000 GPM. A design like this ensures that the water moves quickly, even if there’s far more stormwater than usual.
  4. No combined sewer overflows when it’s dry – When it is dry, you shouldn’t have any overflows. If you’re still experiencing overflows in dry weather, it’s time to take a closer look at the amount of wastewater coming into your plant from different neighborhoods. Is a resident running water all day and night? If so, the district needs to look at why that’s happening. Is there an issue with leaking pipes or seals anywhere?
  5. Proper screening of floating and solid waste – Screens and trash rakes should be used to remove any fecal waste and trash. With many energy-efficient models available, your upgrade can save money on energy bills.
  6. Notification system to alert communities of overflows – You need to alert the public when there is an overflow. Have a plan in place so that the proper employees know how to get the word out to everyone. Local newspapers may not be enough. You might need to send out a mailing and post on social media.
  7. Monitoring the impacts of overflows – Once there is an overflow, it’s your responsibility to monitor any effect it has on the environment. Work with area agencies to ensure this is done on a timely basis.
  8. Steps to prevent pollution from overflows – If you experience a surge, it’s crucial to research why it happened. You have to take preventative measures to keep it from happening again for the same reason. If you experienced an overflow because your pumps couldn’t handle the volume of water, upgrade the pumps as a preventative measure.

When is the best time to upgrade your equipment? It’s best to go over your combined sewer system’s design before the unexpected occurs. It gives you time to make upgrades as you can. Even one small step can prevent a catastrophic overflow of sewage into local bodies of water.

Plus, upgrades help reduce your operating costs over time. You might need to spend money to complete upgrades, but the savings in energy end up paying for those upgrades in very little time. Lakeside Equipment can go over your current design and help you find ways to maximize your plant’s capacity while saving you money. Call us to learn more.

How Does a Grit Removal System Improve Your Plant’s Bottom Line?

When people think of the bottom line, they’re factoring in their expenses versus their revenue. Wastewater treatment plant owners usually think about the “triple bottom line” (TBL). The plant’s bottom line covers more than financial aspects. They also must think about the world and community they’re part of. The TBL theory covers:

  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • Social

With a TBL theory, they’re maximizing revenues, protecting the environment, and making the people in their district happy. As a plant manager, you have to carefully work within the municipality to ensure the water treatment steps provide safety for your workers, meet the EPA’s guidelines for water before it goes back into the environment, keep costs down for the community, and meet the increasing flow rates. That is your TBL, and a grit removal system is a vital part of meeting your bottom line.

What Is a Grit Removal System?

Grit includes abrasive materials like coffee grounds, sand, gravel, and small bone fragments. To get them out of a wastewater treatment plant’s equipment, you need to have machines that wash, collect, and remove the gritty particles. Why bother?

Wastewater and stormwater runoff contains gritty materials that impact the performance of valves and pumps. Imagine the impact of sandpaper rubbing back and forth on rubber, plastic, or metal all day, every day. It would wear out in little time. The same is true of your wastewater treatment plant’s valves and pump components.

All of this grit also builds up in lines, channels, and tanks, which reduces flow rates and capacity. To resolve these costly issues, a grit removal system is imperative.

Grit removal systems are set up to filter wastewater and storm runoff as it comes into a treatment plant. How it does this job depends on the equipment. A vortex, aerated, or circulating system stirs or pumps air into the water. The idea is to get the grit to sink to the bottom, where it is pumped into equipment to be rinsed and moved to containers for removal.

  • Aerated Grit Chambers – Pump air into the water to stir it up so that heavy grit sinks to the bottom.
  • Cyclonic Grit Chambers – Water enters in a way that forms a cyclone that pushes heavier grit to the bottom.
  • Horizontal Flow Chambers – Water flows horizontally to allow heavier gritty materials to sink.
  • Vortex Grit Chambers – Paddles stir the water to allow oils and fats to rise to the surface while grit sinks to the bottom.

The system you choose depends on your plant’s size and needs. Some grit removal systems take more space than others. If you have a small plant, a larger piece of equipment might not fit your needs. You also must consider your flow rates, capacity, and amount of grit that’s typically in your municipalities’ wastewater or stormwater runoff.

How Does Grit Removal Help You Meet Your Bottom Line?

How does removing grit help your bottom line? Think about the amount of wastewater and storm runoff that come into your treatment plant. The average person uses upwards of 100 gallons of water daily with showers, laundry, oral hygiene, dishes, and toilet flushes. A wastewater treatment plant often has thousands of people in its district. The median number of gallons that are treated in a wastewater treatment plant each day is around three million.

Of those three million gallons, the average amount of grit is upwards of 45 cubic feet. Imagine all of that grit rubbing against the components in pumps and valves. If it’s not filtered out early in the process, it can cause costly damage. Not only are you paying for new components to make the repairs, but you’d also have the machine’s downtime for the repairs. That cuts into the financial component of your TBL.

When you remove grit, you make your district members happier. You’re not wasting money on frequent repairs and replacements caused by damage from the grit. You’re also protecting the environment by ensuring your equipment is doing its job and preventing the accidental release of raw sewage caused by equipment failures.

Lakeside Equipment’s Options for Grit Collection and Removal Systems

Whether you need to replace old, ineffective grit collection and removal systems or want to add efficient equipment to your wastewater treatment plant, Lakeside Equipment has a selection of options for you. Take a closer look at your choices.

Aeroductor Grit Removal System

The Aeroductor Grit Removal System uses air to move the water vertically to allow grit to settle to the bottom of the grit hopper. Grit is pumped out using an airlift pump, dry-pit vortex pump, or self-priming pump. Benefits are:

  • Aeration helps kickstart the treatment process.
  • Energy costs are lower.
  • Flow rates don’t matter.
  • Grit comes out cleaner as it’s separated and dewatered simultaneously.
  • No parts are underwater, and no buckets, chains, or augers are needed, so maintenance is easily managed.


H-PAC combines the Hydronic T Screen and SpiraGrit Vortex Grit Chamber. It screens trash and grit at the same time at rates of up to 12 million gallons per day. It doesn’t take a lot of space, making it a popular choice in smaller plants. Benefits include:

  • It costs less due to the pre-engineered design.
  • Multiple screen options meet your exact needs.
  • Stainless steel construction helps with corrosion prevention.

In-Line Grit Collector

With the In-Line Grit Collection, flow rates of 0.25 to 6 million gallons per day are possible. It works by having wastewater come into one end of the tank, flow under a baffle, and pass over a weir. Grit sinks to the bottom of the tank, where a dewatering screw dewaters it and moves it to an awaiting dumpster. Benefits include:

  • It’s an easily-installed and cost-effective grit removal system.
  • Maintenance costs reduce as there is little mechanical equipment and no buckets or chains.
  • The screw conveyor doesn’t wear out due to the grit, and a direct drive speed reducer also lowers maintenance and repair costs.

SpiraGrit Vortex Grit Removal System

The SpiraGrit Vortex Grit Removal System is designed for sites with limited space. It’s ideal for fluctuating daily flow rates. It works by having paddles stir the flow in a vortex chamber. Organics remain suspended while the grit sinks to the bottom to be pumped using an airlift, recessed propeller, or self-prime pump. From there, it goes to a Grit Classifier or Grit Washer. Benefits include:

  • Bearings are all above water for easy maintenance.
  • The grit chamber head loss is minimal.
  • Impressive grit removal rates regardless of the flow rates.
  • Stainless steel construction is available to prevent corrosion.

You also want to consider a Grit Classifier and Raptor Grit Washer. Grit that comes from wastewater soaks up some of the water. To collect that water, you want to invest in a grit washer or grit classifier. These systems work to remove water from the grit slurry.

A Grit Classifier spins the slurry in a cyclonic pattern to force the grit against the chamber’s walls while the water leaves through the overflow pipe. The screw pumps with this system are designed to resist wear. Upgrade to stainless steel construction to prevent corrosion.

Raptor Grit Washers work similarly, using centrifugal force to remove water. It can get the grit to a dry rate of 90%.

Reach out to Lakeside Equipment to learn more about the options for grit removal. Find out how the right grit removal equipment will help you meet your wastewater treatment plant’s bottom line.

Maximize Infrastructure Funding By Upgrading Your Wastewater District’s Efficiency

The 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a lousy grade. There are over 16,000 wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S. What’s alarming is that 80% of them are nearing capacity, and 15% are at or over capacity. In 2019, the gap between the money needed for repairs and upgrades versus what was spent was over $80 billion.

When cities and municipalities receive money for upgrades and maintenance, they must prioritize where to spend the money. It’s equally important to properly use the money from the home and business owners in your wastewater district. Before making any improvements, carefully plan how to best spend the money you’ve set aside. What equipment should you upgrade first to maximize your district’s infrastructure? What can you do to lower costs and improve efficiency?

Factor the Growth Within Your Community

Before making any changes, it’s time to sit down and look at the growth trends in your municipality. How much population growth has happened in the past year, five years, or ten years? How long with your current setup before you reach capacity? Are you already there?

If the city is growing faster than your facility can manage, it’s something that you must address with city developers and planners. Impact fees can help offset the burden of each new home on your community’s infrastructure. Make sure those fees bring in the money needed to grow your wastewater treatment plant at a rate that keeps up with the changes. If not, it’s important to speak up sooner rather than later.

You don’t want to run into issues where the wastewater coming in is too much and requires emergency measures. Often, untreated sewage gets released into a lake or river. The fines for this can be excessive, so you have to plan for growth carefully.

Fines aren’t the only issue. In October, a wastewater treatment plant in Maryland had diluted, untreated sewage release into St. George Creek, affecting an oyster farm. The farm’s owners had no idea this had happened and harvested thousands of oysters that refrigerated and shipped to festivals in Northern Virginia. Over two dozen people who ate those oysters became ill, so there is a risk of lawsuits related to food poisoning cases on top of fines.

Invest in Alternative Energy

It’s estimated that up to 10% of a municipality’s budget goes towards energy bills. Much of this comes from the energy needed to run a wastewater treatment plant. You have motors, pumps, computers, and other wastewater equipment running all day and night throughout the year. Electricity alone eats up as much as 40% of a wastewater treatment plant’s operating costs. Saving money isn’t as hard as you might think.

A Palmyra, Wisconsin, wastewater treatment facility upgraded its aerators, reducing energy consumption by 50% and lowering electricity bills by over $1,000 every month.

A Chapel Hill, North Carolina wastewater treatment plant upgraded the aeration system and mixers, saving almost $30,000 a month.

In 2010, Appleton, Wisconsin, added a biogas (methane) boiler to the facility. That change saved the plant more than $8,300 per month. After rebates, the plan spent just over $500,000 for the boiler. Within five years, it’s expected the savings will have offset the expenditure.

Those were minor, cost-effective upgrades that led to impressive savings. It gets even better.

A wastewater district in the Boston area saved around $1.5 million each year by undergoing an energy audit to find where to best make changes. They didn’t make these changes overnight.

Over a decade, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District spent about $4.5 million making smaller changes like upgrading the aeration system and adding variable-speed pumping system drives. It replaced older lighting with energy-efficient fixtures, installed solar panels, and insulated the digesters.

California’s Moulton Niguel Water District, logical controllers and variable-frequency drives were installed to control pump speeds. The facility saved about $300,000 per year by upgrading to energy-efficient equipment. If you made similar changes at your plant, you could save thousands and offset the cost of the improvements in little time.

The methane produced during wastewater treatment can heat your plant. Upgrade your heating system to trap the methane and reuse it as your primary heating fuel. You don’t have to spend thousands on natural gas, wood, heating fuels, or electricity. Renewable energy is the responsible, cost-effective way to start heating your plant. It also reduces greenhouse gasses.

If you haven’t looked into solar or wind power, it’s time to consider it. You can add solar panels to roofs or empty land. There are solar systems that float on wastewater treatment ponds. If it’s windy in your area, tapping into the wind’s power also helps you generate the electricity needed to power your wastewater treatment facility.

Consider the Savings Gained With Newer Equipment

How much of your equipment is older? Before you consider the changes to make, you should inventory the equipment you have, its age, and how much of your time is spent maintaining it. If you have equipment that is being shut down for maintenance each day or several days per week, it’s time to look into replacing it.

Learn how the energy is used within your plant. Outdated equipment will use a lot of energy, so replacing them helps lower your costs. But, there are other aspects to consider. If a room is empty for hours, do the lights get turned off, or are they on anyway. Motion-activated lighting might be a worthwhile improvement. Are light fixtures older with fluorescent bulbs, or have you upgraded to cheaper LED fixtures?

Upgrading your equipment is an excellent way to reduce your energy consumption. Older pumps use a lot more energy than new pumps designed with energy efficiency in mind. Pumps constantly run as pumps move the wastewater up hills and from one station to another before moving it to the mainline to go into the wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater is pumped through screens and grit removers before going to clarifiers. Sludge and grit are pumped out to be composted, sent to the landfill, or to incinerators. These pumps are always running, and that drives up costs.

Fine bubble aeration is one of the many effective ways to lower costs. If you’re using older aeration systems, upgrading is a smart move. Adding systems that automate the process helps you save more money on electricity bills. Together, aeration and pumping make up an average of 70% of a plant’s energy usage.

Where do you start? The best improvements come down to your current plant design. Automated process controls are one of the first steps to take if you want to reduce energy consumption. If you haven’t automated your plant, it’s time. With a Sharp BNR process control system’s Programmable Logic Controller, water treatment processes are monitored 24/7, and aeration is increased and decreased as needed to maximize efficiency.

Lakeside Equipment’s experts can discuss your goals and help you choose the best areas to upgrade. You’ll gain efficiency while meeting the increasing demand in a growing community. Talk to us about your treatment goals to better understand where your current system isn’t doing as much as it should.