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The U.S. Clean Water Act Turns 50 in October

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) was enacted in 1948, but it didn’t add much in the way of federal guidelines. Essentially, states, towns, and cities were offered some federal funding to address water pollution, but water pollution was a state’s problem and up to communities to solve on their own.

The FWPCA was updated in the 1950s and 1960s, now there was some control on a federal level, but only if the waterway passed through more than one state. It still required states to set their own standards. The changes were considered problematic as it was hard to determine exactly who was violating quality standards given the length of some waterways. Even if it was determined who was polluting a waterway, clean-up measures took longer than expected and control measures could be planned but not necessarily implemented.

Then, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969. There were so many chemicals and other pollutants in the water that it became obvious something needed to change. President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970 and established the Environmental Protection Agency, which started a movement to clean up America’s waterways.

All of this brings us to 1972 when the federal government decided that government involvement was long overdue. That’s when the U.S. Clean Water Act was enacted, and it turns 50 this year.

The Clean Water Act Is Signed Into Law

The Clean Water Act of 1972 came up with new goals, and the biggest was that all industrial and municipal wastewater had to be treated before it was discharged. The federal government offered monetary assistance for the construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants, set strict enforcement policies on the federal level, and left day-to-day implementation of the new law to the states. This time, however, the EPA had a say in what happened, which put a lot more control in the government’s hands.

In October of 1972, one of the first changes hit when Congress enacted the Ocean Dumping Act. At that point, close to six dozen companies who had applied to dump their chemicals in the oceans were told no. That helped stop some of the pollutants from going into the ocean.

As the Clean Water Act also required industrial wastewater to be treated, industries had a deadline of July 1, 1977, in order to establish policies and develop industrial wastewater treatment systems. Municipal wastewater systems also had that deadline to establish secondary treatment systems, but they could apply for extensions and hope they’d be approved. Even with extensions, all wastewater districts had to meet the EPA’s “best practicable control technology” standards by July 1, 1988.

The best practicable control technology improvements were next. Industries were also given until March 31, 1989, to meet the “best available technology” for water treatment of toxic substances. Industrial settings that failed to meet this rule faced court-ordered actions.

Once the 1988 deadline hit, 86% of the nation’s municipal wastewater treatment plants had met the standards. The 14% that didn’t meet the deadline faced court-ordered schedules. Sadly, there are still towns and cities that struggle to meet the standards due to crumbling infrastructure.

Until 1988, sewage sludge and industrial waste were still being dumped in the oceans. It was banned completely with the Sewage-Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988. In 1992, New York City dumped its last load of sewage in the ocean finalizing the city’s agreement with the Ocean Dumping Ban Act.

The Safe Drinking Water Act Followed

At the end of 1974, another act was passed by the government. The Safe Drinking Water Act was signed on December 16th. It gave the EPA authority to regulate the quality of drinking water in public water systems.

Even as measures were taken to stop polluting the nation’s waterways, cancer-causing chemicals were discovered in New Orleans and Pittsburgh’s drinking water. Many other towns and cities were finding their public water smelled or tasted odd. To end this, drinking water standards were to be set by the end of 1977. In 1977, the act was upgraded and the changes were signed into law by President Jimmy Carter.

Public water systems had to make sure their water met these new standards, though extensions, such as budgetary constraints, would be granted in certain situations. Plus, districts that didn’t meet the EPA’s standards had to notify all customers immediately of the pollutants in the community’s drinking water.

Under President Reagan’s presidency, the Safe Water Drinking Act was updated again in 1986. More than 100 contaminants were added to the list of current contaminants. Industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants had until 1991 to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants or systems to start cleaning wastewater of the new contaminants. Lead materials were also banned in water systems. Until then, lead solder could be used on water supply pipes.

When 400,000 people in Wisconsin were sickened by cryptosporidium, it led to 100 deaths. The EPA immediately launched regulations and testing for cryptosporidium with the Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule.

The next amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act took place in 1996 under President Clinton. He signed the law to grant funding to municipal water treatment plants in need of upgrades to their system and to make sure they provide information to customers about any microbes or chemicals in their public drinking water supply.

In 1997, Canada and the U.S. teamed up to clean up the Great Lakes. The goal was to clean the lakes by 2006, as these lakes were providing more than 15 million people with water at the time the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed.

Hudson River was the next waterway to get cleanup. PCB contamination in the Hudson River was cleaned in 2002 by removing 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the river.

The EPA Announced Government Contracts, Loans, and Grants Bans

To ensure industries and wastewater districts followed the new laws, the EPA announced a ban on any government contracts, loans, or grants in 1975. If a company was in violation of the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act, it would not be awarded a government grant, loan, or contract. Essentially, anyone caught polluting would lose out on essential government funding options and future contracts.

Use of PCBs and Other Chemicals Are Banned

One area of concern in 1979 became the use of synthetic chemicals known as PCBs. They were commonly used in paints, cement, and many commercial and household products. PCBs were found in water, soil, and in the air. As they were believed to cause certain cancers, their use needed to be phased out.

In 1983, the EPA ordered an immediate stop to EDB’s use as a pesticide after it was found in the groundwater. As it is a carcinogen and mutagen, it was immediately banned.

President Reagan signed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act in 1986. If toxic chemicals were going to be released into the air, soil, or water, communities had to be informed. 

What’s the Future of the Clean Water Act?

Even with the Clean Water Act, there are still many issues. In 1983, sewage treatment plants, farms, and urban runoff brought the pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay to unheard-of levels. Federal, state, and local teams worked together to begin the cleanup that’s still ongoing. 

President Obama renewed efforts to clean and protect the Chesapeake Bay. To do so, he named the bay a national treasure with an executive order in 2009. In 2011, the EPA established the “Pollution Diet” limiting the maximum daily load for pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus from states with waterways that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Pollution controls must be in place by 2025.

As research advances, more pollutants are found and pollution from the past starts leaching out of the soil or groundwater and raising issues today. That’s why the 50-year-old Clean Water Act continues to be updated and altered.

Does your plant need upgrades to meet the most recent EPA requirements? Are you struggling with efficiency and coming too close to maximum flow rates? It’s time to address the upgrades to your wastewater treatment plant or water treatment facility. Lakeside Equipment is an expert in treatment solutions and has been since the 1920s. Trust in our expertise to bring your facility up-to-date with technology and energy-efficient equipment.

Understanding the Three Types of Wastewater – Domestic, Industrial, and Stormwater

In broad terms, wastewater is water that’s been used in some way. It could be water that’s built up in clouds and is now coming down as rain or snow. It’s water that an industrial plant uses to wash food items, rapidly cool down extruded items, or to make items like paper. You also have domestic wastewater that comes from homes.

It’s estimated that 48% of wastewater today isn’t treated before it’s returned to a lake, stream, river, pond, ocean, etc. In districts with wastewater treatment plants, all it takes is one piece of broken equipment to create chaos that leads to the release of untreated wastewater. The importance of properly treating wastewater is critical, especially as many areas experience droughts of unbelievable levels.

Untreated wastewater is part of the problem today. There’s also a problem with water consumption. People need to start weighing their water usage and how to make sure the nation doesn’t run out in future generations.

What can a district do to ensure wastewater, no matter what kind, is properly treated? How do you recycle wastewater to help lower the draw on the nation’s water supplies? To better understand this, take a close look at the three types of wastewater.

Domestic Wastewater

Every day, a person within a home uses an average of 82 gallons of water in some way. It’s estimated that more than twice that is also wasted through water leaks or wasteful habits. Doing the laundry, flushing a toilet, washing your hands, and washing a pet all create stormwater. These are all examples of domestic wastewater.

Domestic water enters sewers from pipes that run from your home to the sewer lines. From there, it continues traveling through the sewer system to a wastewater treatment plant.

More rural areas have septic tanks and septic systems. Solid waste materials like toilet paper, small food particles, and feces sink to the bottom of the septic tank. Liquids travel through an effluent filter and piping to the leach field where it slowly trickles through sand and bedrock to clean it before it returns to the groundwater. The solids in the tank get pumped out every few years, depending on how many people live in the home. They’re transported by septage hauler to a wastewater treatment plant.

Water conversation at this level helps preserve excessive water waste. Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. Such as:

  • Flushing a toilet less frequently.
  • Turning off the water while you brush your teeth or lather your hands.
  • Wearing the same pants several times if they’re not stained or dirty.
  • Saving water that’s been used to steam vegetables to make vegetable broth.
  • Waiting until a dishwasher is full to run it.
  • Taking one shower a day instead of two or three.
  • Placing rain barrels under gutters and using that to water gardens and lawns.
  • Planting grass and crops that are drought-tolerant.

All of these measures will make a difference, but it’s not just for people producing domestic wastewater to resolve. Steps need to be taken to prevent waste and pollution with all three types of wastewater.

Industrial Wastewater

Industrial wastewater is the wastewater generated by manufacturing plants, food processing plants, oil and gas companies, mines, breweries, paper mills, and many other commercial businesses.

In areas where droughts are common, some companies must establish their own on-site wastewater treatment plants to recycle as much water as they can. Hotels in Las Vegas are one example, they must reuse water instead of drawing on public water supplies to do things like add water to their pools. The same is true of companies like car washes where a lot of water is used.

Many companies that generate industrial wastewater must pre-treat the water before releasing it into the sewer system. If they don’t, they put a strain on systems by sending excessive amounts of heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, etc. to the wastewater treatment plant for processing. It’s a costly process, so pre-treatment ensures the company responsible for generating the industrial wastewater does its part to help clean the water.

Stormwater

The final type of wastewater is one that people don’t often think of as being wastewater. When there is a heavy storm, rain falls in the streets and goes into storm drains. This is known as stormwater or storm runoff. From there, it may go to a wastewater treatment plant, but that’s not as common as having the stormwater runoff go directly to a channel that leads to a body of water.

As stormwater runoff is not always treated, things that the stormwater picks up along the way end up in a freshwater source nearby. It might be automotive fluids that puddled up from a leak in a car’s engine. Salt that’s spread on the roads in the winter, liquid manure, and animal waste are all things that can end up in stormwater.

Stormwater runoff is an area of concern, as too much rain or snowmelt at once can overload an older system and lead to sewage and stormwater mixing and ending up going to area water sources without treatment, which is a health hazard.

Many cities are starting to realize the importance of finding a way to manage stormwater. Green infrastructure plans help filter out some of the waste from stormwater by adding green roofs, rain gardens, and rain barrels to help capture some of the rain that falls or snow that melts. Plants are able to pre-filter the storm runoff before it reaches bodies of water.

Making Wastewater Treatment More Efficient and Effective

Proper wastewater treatment ensures that wastewater is cleaned of most contaminants before it returns to a lake, river, pond, etc. Not everything is removed through wastewater treatment. Researchers are finding levels of antidepressants and other prescription medications in aquatic animals. Because of this, research is constantly taking place to find better filtration methods and more effective treatment measures.

Another aspect is water reuse. Across the country, water shortages are becoming more and more apparent. Lake Mead is an example of this. The lake is at the lowest level in history, and severe water conservation efforts are underway or there will be shortages. Water reuse is essential. People may not like the idea of drinking water that came from a toilet or washing machine, but it’s important.

Wastewater districts need to make sure the public knows that recycled water is just as safe as the water they currently use. Sometimes, it’s even cleaner.

Consider adding a water treatment plant to your existing wastewater treatment plant. Instead of sending the treated wastewater to a body of water, it goes to a water treatment plant for further processing before it goes to the public water supply for use. Water reclamation has to happen, and your district should look into the upgrades needed. With government grants available for upgrading the infrastructure, it’s a great time to learn more.

Lakeside Equipment specializes in water treatment equipment and facilities. Give us a call or reach out to us via email to learn more about what your wastewater district plant would need to do to upgrade your system to be efficient and cost-effective while creating a clean water source for area residents and businesses to draw on.

Five Chemicals Were Added to Screening and Removal Processes, Is Your Facility Prepared?

On June 15th, the EPA added five new chemicals to their list of chemicals that federal, state, and local agencies must monitor for at Superfund sites across the U.S. Superfund sites are sites in the U.S. that are contaminated in some way, often it’s where manufacturing sites, landfills, or mines created tremendous pollution in the soil and groundwater. 

In the 1980s, the U.S. Congress established the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act requiring responsible parties to clean up their sites or pay the EPA to clean them. If the company or responsible parties are no longer in business or alive, the Superfund money is used in the clean-up.

In addition, the EPA is making it known that the goal is to get these chemicals out of public water sources as part of a plan to make drinking water across the nation safer for everyone. States and territories are advised to apply for grants to address these five chemicals.

These chemicals have carcinogenic potential, and it’s believed they could increase the risk of cancer for animals and humans. They also have non-cancerous effects, such as damage to the liver, the kidneys, and the immune system. By lowering exposure, it can help lower the risk of chronic health conditions that drive up healthcare costs and shorten a person’s longevity.

Several studies have come to light that have raised concern. One is that children exposed to these chemicals are not building immunities to diseases like diphtheria and tetanus after vaccines. Exposure to GenX chemicals is causing lesions on the livers of mice, and pregnant mice are giving birth to babies with deficient thyroxine levels, which causes thyroid disease. 

In order to lower exposure to them, the EPA is setting its sights on removing as much of them as possible in drinking water, which in turn can lower the amount found in foods that are processed or contain water. 

What does this mean for you? It may not mean anything. But, industrial and food processing plants may need to take a closer look to see if their industrial wastewater systems are ready to monitor for these chemicals. Down the road, water treatment plants may need to start monitoring and removing them, too.

What Are the Five Additions?

Several chemicals are already monitored, but some were created more recently or have avoided careful monitoring. So, what are these GenX chemicals and PFAs that the EPA is asking to closely monitor? Why are they being watched? 

Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA)

HFPO-DA is not biodegradable. It’s found in food packaging, carpets, fabrics, and foams used to put out fires. Once it’s in water, it’s there until filtration removes it. Some states are being proactive and adding HFPO-DA to their drinking water standards. 

For example, Wisconsin has a recommended level of 300 ppt. Michigan set standards to 370 ppt in 2020. North Carolina found higher levels of it in surface and drinking water around Cape Fear River and established drinking water goals as a result.

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) 

PFOs date back to the 1940s when 3M started making them, and they became a key component of Scotchgard. When they were found in human blood samples in the 1960s, it was first believed it was a related chemical. But, in the 1990s, PFOs were found in donated blood in blood banks. It wasn’t until 2000 that the chemical started to get phased out in the U.S.

It’s a problem as even wastewater treatment methods are unable to break down PFOs. They just don’t degrade. 

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

The use of PFOA dwindled in 2002, but until then, it was widely used as a binder for coatings like Teflon or paint products designed to resist stains, oil, and water. As they resist water and heat, they don’t degrade.

One study looked at more than 2,000 people’s blood samples; almost every sample had PFOAs in the blood. The effects on health are ongoing, but some studies found that lab animals that were given large amounts suffered liver damage. 

Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)

PFNAs are surfactants found in everyday items such as cosmetics. They don’t degrade and are showing up in the blood of animals and humans. As a result, some states are starting to ban their use or require drinking water standards. 

In 2020, California banned the use of PFNAs in cosmetics. That same year, New Jersey became the first state to set drinking water standards to 14 ppt. A couple of months later, Michigan set a level of 8 ppt, though the U.S. EPA hadn’t set any requirements yet.

Perfluorohexane Sulfonic acid (PFHxS)

This is the most common of all the synthetic chemicals known as PFASs. It’s been banned in many areas, but it’s still showing up in the environment. It was found in fire-fighting foams, textiles, metal coatings, and polishes. 

The U.S. hasn’t set limits as of 2019, but states are taking it into their own hands. Minnesota was one of the first, aiming for 27 ppt. Michigan set their limit of 51 ppt in 2020.

What States Do Regulate These Chemicals?

Just because the EPA hasn’t taken action yet doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. These states have limits in place for public drinking water.

  • Alaska – PFOS and PFOA 
  • California – PFOA and PFOS 
  • Colorado – PFOA and PFOS
  • Connecticut – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFHpA
  • Delaware – PFOA and PFOS
  • Maine – PFOA and PFOS
  • Massachusetts – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, PFHpA, and PFDA
  • Michigan – PFNA, PFOA, PFOS, HFPO-DA, PFBS, and PFHxA
  • Minnesota – PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFBS, and PFBA 
  • New Hampshire – PFOA, PFOS, and PFHxS
  • New Jersey – PFNA, PFOS, and PFOA
  • New Mexico – PFOA and PFOS
  • New York – PFOA and PFAS 
  • North Carolina – GenX
  • Ohio – PFNA, PFHxS, PFOS, PFOA, GenX, and PBFS
  • Vermont – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFHpA

You may already be in a state where you have to work with the limits state agencies have set. Not every state has policies though. What if you don’t. What does this mean for your water treatment plant?

Right now, these are advisories. Monitoring these contaminants is helping shape policies on lowering them to treated water. Those policies are expected to come out in the fall. Will your wastewater or public water treatment plant need to take measures to better clean the water? It’s almost a certainty that that will come next. More will be known in the fall when new guidelines come out. 

Until then, the government released money to help towns and cities improve their infrastructure. Take advantage of these grants and start looking toward the future. Systems with the best filtration methods will find more of these chemicals get removed and lead to safe water for everyone in their region.

Lakeside Equipment can help you look at your existing water treatment plant and see if there are ways to improve efficiency, performance, and save money on energy bills. Reach out to us to discuss what you wish you could change about your current system. Our engineers are happy to talk about ways to save money and improve performance.

How Is Wastewater Treated Around the World?

Have you ever wondered how wastewater treatment is completed around the world? Only 56% of wastewater around the world went through safe water treatment steps before its release into rivers, lakes, etc. It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s wastewater never goes through any treatment. It’s the United Nations’ goal to improve the rate of wastewater treatment by 2030.

Treating wastewater correctly is essential for preventing disease. Hepatitis A is just one of many diseases that can be contracted through exposure to untreated wastewater. E. Coli, Encephalitis, Giardiasis, Poliomyelitis, Salmonellosis, and Typhoid Fever are examples of others, though there are dozens of viruses that people can get when swimming or bathing in infected waters.

In the United States, wastewater treatment is a multi-stage process. Wastewater flows into a plant through sewer lines or is trucked in after being pumped from residential septic tanks.

Most wastewater districts start by screening wastewater to remove debris like plastic wrappers, toys, animals, bone fragments, and personal care products. Those items are removed and sent to landfills. Grit removal takes out smaller particles like coffee grounds and sand.

Pumps transfer wastewater to the next stage where the wastewater is aerated using bubblers to provide oxygen to the mixture. From here, it moves into sedimentation tanks where sludge sinks to the bottom for removal and processing in digesters. Oils and fats rise to the top and are raked from the surface where they join sludge in digesters.

The materials in digesters are processed for weeks to remove bacteria, odors, and disease-causing organisms. Once the material has been in digesters for enough time, it’s hauled to landfills or dried to use as fertilizer in areas like national forests.

Some cities use filtration through substances like coconut fibers or carbon to help clean the majority of the bacteria from the remaining wastewater. What’s left goes to tanks where chemicals, such as chlorine, are added to kill any remaining bacteria.

Once this is done, it may sit in tanks for exposure to UV lighting that removes excessive chlorine. When the chlorine reaches the required levels for release, wastewater is pumped from tanks into local bodies of water like rivers and lakes.

That’s a quick look at the stages of wastewater treatment in the U.S. Our nation’s wastewater treatment plants benefit from modern technology and computer systems that help control flow rates, check water quality throughout each stage of wastewater treatment, and lower energy costs. How is wastewater treated in other countries?

Ecuador

Ecuador is one of South America’s wealthier countries, but almost 75% of the water sources below 9,186 feet are polluted. The reason is tied to wastewater that goes untreated. It’s estimated that only 10% of the wastewater generated undergoes treatment before being discharged to the Daule-Guayas River.

To stop this level of pollution from continuing, the city of Guayaquil asked for a line of credit and assistance from other countries to improve the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant’s infrastructure. The plans are to connect around 30,000 homes and apartments to the current sewer system. Improving the La Chala sewer to prevent leaks and adding a pumping station to the existing treatment plant are other project goals. Goals are to complete the project within three years.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s wastewater treatment goals are unique in that the country is very hot and arid. About six out of ten homes have toilets, but many of these toilets pipe directly to a backyard pit latrine.

With a population of over 61 million people, the country’s biggest concern is having enough water. In 2021, plans to build a chemical-free wastewater and sludge treatment plant that would recycle wastewater to homes in Addis Ababa, the capital city. Once completed, the plant will be able to process almost 4,000 gallons per day.

India

If you think of countries that are underserved by wastewater treatment, India likely comes to mind. In 2016, about 38,000 million liters of wastewater were generated per day, but only 31.5% of that wastewater was treated properly. The steps taken in wastewater treatment are the same as those used in the U.S., but there are several other issues that arise. One is that half of all Indian homes lack working toilets. For those that do, their wastewater travels into sewage systems that are poorly staffed and lack skilled workers.

Even if cities have wastewater treatment plants, wastewater ends up being discharged prior to treatment due to poor operation and maintenance processes due to staffing issues and poorly trained operators. Frequent power interruptions add to the issues. Some towns and cities simply cannot afford to build and run wastewater treatment systems.

Japan

While Japan has more than 200 inhabited islands, most of the country’s 126.4 million people live on one of the four main islands.

  • Honshu – The largest with a population of 104 million and home to Tokyo, the island’s capital and largest city.
  • Hokkaido – The second largest with a population of over 5 million with Sapporo being both the capital and the island’s largest city.
  • Kyushu – The third largest island has more than 14 million residents. Fukuoka is the largest city on the island with over 1.6 million residents.
  • Shikoku – This is the smallest of the four major islands with a population of over 4 million. The largest city on this island is Matsuyama, which has just over half a million residents.

The risk of earthquakes, flooding during tsunamis, and proximity to water make wastewater treatment an urgency. The Sewerage Law of Japan lays forth strict criteria that prefectures must abide by when it comes to building homes and businesses, connecting new households to sewer systems, and setting up packaged aerated wastewater treatment systems known as johkasous or small-scale sewage systems in rural areas.

Kobe City has a public sewer system connecting to six wastewater treatment plants that serve 98.7% of the population. During the treatment process, biogas is captured and distributed to homes and businesses in the region through Osaka Gas.

Just outside of Tokyo, the city of Saitama serves about 92% of its residents through a wastewater treatment plant. The remaining 8% rely on a johkasou. Sludge removal is a primary step in wastewater treatment. As Japan has little space for landfills, sludge must be transported to sludge treatment plants in Japan where it is processed and recycled as plant fertilizer.

Saitama does one more thing to help the island’s natural resources. About 70% of the city’s water comes from area rivers. With climate change and population changes impacting water supplies, the area’s wastewater and storm runoff are collected, processed, and cleaned at the Saitama Shintoshin Purification plant. Once clean, the water is returned to homes and businesses through pipelines.

For a wastewater treatment plant to work effectively and efficiently, plant owners and managers need to make sure equipment is maintained regularly and upgraded when possible. It’s not advantageous to wait until pumps break down or equipment fails.

Talk to Lakeside Equipment about your plant’s equipment, capacity, and age. Our experts can help you better understand the ways you can boost efficiency and ensure your system doesn’t fail as weather patterns and populations change.

Upgrade or Repair: Which Makes Sense for Your Water District?

Here’s a concerning statistic. There are more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. and many of them are at 81% of their capacity. About one out of five are at or over their max capacity. When a facility is at max capacity, untreated wastewater ends up flowing into lakes, rivers, and streams where people and animals are exposed to it.

In 2019, districts across the nation spent more than $3 billion on upgrades or repairs to pipelines. The gap in what was needed was around $81 billion. Recent grants and funding promise to help with some of this, but there are still many districts that have an impossible choice. Do you repair your district’s system again and hope it lasts or is it time for upgrades?

How Long Has Your Wastewater Treatment Plant Been Operational?

On average, a wastewater treatment plant is designed for no more than 50 years before changes are necessary. As the populations in towns and cities increase, more wastewater goes to a plant, and that means the existing equipment may not be enough. If more wastewater is coming in than the equipment is able to process, the release of untreated wastewater is going to happen.

Are the fines you’ll face from the EPA or your state government worth it? These fines may end up costing more than upgrades would cost. Take a look at some of the recent fines issued to wastewater treatment plants in the U.S.

  • Alabama – $250,000
  • California – $816,000
  • Connecticut – $2.4 million
  • Indiana – $3 million
  • Michigan – $100,000
  • New Mexico – $1.2 million

One thing to remember is that many of the fines also come with the requirement that you make the required upgrades or repairs. You end up having to pay even more, and your wastewater district members may not like the rate hikes that are required to cover these urgent fixes.

When Do You Repair Instead of Upgrade?

It’s clear that something has to change. When should you repair rather than pay for upgrades? The most important reason to repair is that your budget is limited. No one wants to scrape along with older equipment, but if there’s simply not enough money for upgraded equipment, repairs will have to suffice for now. What other situations call for repairs over upgrades?

  1. Your Equipment Isn’t Too Old

If your equipment is still newer, it’s not always smart to replace it yet. It still has a lot of life left, so repair whatever isn’t working effectively. If a pump blows, it’s better to replace the pump than an entire system.

  1. You Don’t Have Time for Replacements

It may not be the right season to be shutting down part of your wastewater treatment plant. It’s winter, and more people are at home and taking warm baths at night, so wastewater generation is higher than it is in the summer. Your town might be a popular spot for tourists, and once the summer tourism season ends, wastewater generation will drop by more than half. If you need to repair now to buy time until less wastewater is being generated, wait until then.

  1. Funding Isn’t In Place Yet

You may have applied for grants to pay for new wastewater treatment equipment, but the grant money isn’t being distributed until the third quarter. You can’t hold off yet, so make just enough repairs to carry you over and then replace equipment when you have funding. 

When Should You Upgrade?

Before you even experience fines, when should you consider upgrades? Here are five reasons to upgrade.

  1. Energy Costs Are Rising

Your bills keep rising, and the people in your district are not happy about it. This can be a sign that pumps and motors are working more than in the past. Upgrading to more energy-friendly pumps and motors will cost money, but the amount you save on energy bills makes it worthwhile.

You can also consider upgrades to help power your plant. Add a system that converts the methane your plant produces into fuel to heat to cut your heating bills. Look into solar panels and wind turbines to help produce the energy your plant needs to run.

  1. Equipment Breaks Down Frequently

Your equipment seems to break down every month. When that happens, you have to stop the treatment process or lower the capacity, which puts you at risk of flooding and raw sewage releases. If you’re spending more time on repairs than you have in the past, it’s time to look into upgraded, maintenance-free wastewater treatment equipment.

  1. The Population Is Rising Faster Than Expected

Your town should be considering the added wastewater generation when new construction is considered, but you can’t always control how many people move into a new home. You also can’t control how many showers or baths a person takes each day. You will have the people who take a bath and two showers every day without realizing how much extra wastewater they’re generating. If the wastewater generation is more than planned, you could find yourself quickly reaching capacity.

By building a system that’s larger than needed, you help allow for growth. If more people moved into a new development than you expected, you still have plenty of capacity for the increase. You do need to closely monitor this throughout the year and remain in contact with the city planners.

  1. Treatment Standards Have Changed

Wastewater treatment standards change from time to time. As the guidelines regarding the max levels of a certain component change, you need to meet or exceed the changing guidelines. This may mean having upgraded equipment that’s able to filter the wastewater to the appropriate levels.

  1. Your Wastewater Treatment Plant is At Capacity

When your wastewater treatment plant is at or very close to capacity, it’s time to upgrade your equipment. You can’t risk the fines you’ll get by releasing raw sewage. You have systems in place to monitor how much wastewater is treated and flows into your plant, keep track of these numbers, and address issues sooner rather than later.

  1. You’ve Been Warned the Repairs Won’t Last Long

You might save a lot of money with repairs, but you’ve been told that the repair is only going to carry your plant for a month or two. If you have to pay for the same repair weeks from now, why keep spending money? Pay for the upgrade once and avoid all of the extra repair costs.

Discuss Your Options

Sometimes, the costs of repairs vs. upgrades are not as different as you might imagine. Talk to an expert in wastewater treatment plants to find out how much it would cost to repair equipment vs. replace it. You may find that it ends up being more affordable to replace equipment. Plus, there may be incentives that you can apply for to help cover some of the cost of the infrastructure upgrades you need. If you’re saving your district’s members money in the long run, they’ll appreciate it.

Lakeside Equipment offers cost-effective upgrades if that suits your district better. Or, work with our team on repairs that provide the efficiency and effectiveness you need. Water treatment is our specialty and it’s one we’ve been involved in since 1928. Our mission remains to have Cleaner Water for a Brighter Future. Talk to us to learn more about the ways you can join us on that mission.

What Leads to Clogs at Wastewater Pump Stations, and How Do You Stop Them?

Clogged pumps in a sewer and wastewater system aren’t new issues, but they have been increasingly frustrating to districts across the nation. The main issues tend to be sanitary wipes that are marketed as flushable that do not break down in the water as quickly as advertised. Double- and triple-ply toilet papers, paper towels, and facial tissues also don’t disintegrate quickly.

 Consumers purchase the items thinking they’re flushable and will dissolve in their wastewater, but they don’t. They build up in pipes, get caught around pumps in the equipment, and lead to blockages that can become costly as sewer and wastewater workers need to locate the blockage and remove it. In South Carolina, a blockage required divers at the cost of $140,000, and that cost ends up driving up prices for households and companies in that municipality.

Recent Clogs That Led to Costly Problems

Back in August, the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal in Delaware was flooded with upwards of 8,000 gallons of raw sewage. Why? A pump station in Lewes developed a clog that caused tremendous issues. At the heart of the clog were unflushable items like baby wipes.

As the clog built in both the lead and secondary pipes, a backup pump took over, but that pump also failed. The sewage backed up into pipes leading to a backflow situation that caused a cleanout lid to open. Sewage then entered the canal. It took workers about six hours to correct the situation.

A few months later, officials in Chaska, Minnesota, posted a picture of a shredded cotton towel that clogged a pump. Lift stations that usually get cleaned every three months were cleaned four times in one week due to clogs.

Why a towel was flushed down a toilet is unknown, but the city made it a goal to inform the public that paper towels, baby wipes, “flushable wipes,” tissues, and menstrual products should not be flushed as they do cause clogs.

The North Charleston Sewer District in South Carolina recently had to bring this issue up again. Not only is this sewer district dealing with baby wipes and flushable wipes that have been flushed down the toilet, but those wipes are mixing with the grease that people are pouring down sinks and solidifying in the sewer lines.

It’s clear that this is an issue that’s occurring across the country. What can sewer districts and wastewater treatment plants do to help put an end to clogs at pump stations?

Educate Those in Your District

You can’t always control what people flush, but they may not know what they are doing is driving up prices. Raise awareness. One of the first steps is to educate the people in your wastewater and sewer district. People see the term flushable and don’t realize that these wipes do not disintegrate as well as advertised

Go on social media and publish pictures of the clogs. If people see how these wipes do not break down effectively, it helps them understand the issues they’re causing. Make it known that it’s best to throw these wipes into the trash.

People may not pay attention to postcards or flyers you place in the mail. But, they may catch ads on Facebook or YouTube, if you have that budget available. Hold an open house with tours of your facility, if possible, and spread the word that way.

Make sure you bring up the different items that are marketed as septic-safe but aren’t. Wipes are just one item that are marketed as flushable but cause problems in sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Tampons, “flushable” cat litter, and toilet bowl scrubbers are other items that do not break down, even though it says they’re septic-safe products.

It’s also useful to point out the risks of untreated sewage being leaked into waterways. If you’re near an ocean, the area shellfish becomes contaminated and is no longer safe to eat. Lakes are exposed to high levels of bacteria and nitrogen, which makes lakes unsafe to swim in and can cause algae blooms to thrive.

Charleston, South Carolina’s District Filed a Lawsuit

South Carolina’s Charleston Water System took a surprising, yet logical step. After spending more than $300,000 to fix blockages and pump failures, they filed a lawsuit against manufacturers and retailers marketing wipes as being “flushable.” Consumers see that a wipe is flushable and don’t realize the damage it can cause to wastewater treatment systems. These flushable wipes and other flushable products like “flushable” cat litter do not disintegrate as people expect.

Kimberly-Clark was the first company to offer a settlement with Charleston Water System. The company is working on a new design to ensure the wipes disintegrate faster.

Upgrading Equipment Helps

Another step a wastewater district and sewer system can do is make sure older equipment is upgraded. Go through your system’s equipment and see how old the pumps, screens, trash rakes, and other components are. Modern equipment may be more effective at removing items that cause blockages. Sometimes, additional screens or more efficient trash rakes can help.

If your district doesn’t have grinder pumps, they can make a big difference. The pumps grind materials, which reduces the risk of a blockage. Grinder pumps work at slow speeds with high torque to grind up items like flushable wipes and cat litter, menstrual pads, paper towels, rags, and things that shouldn’t be flushed.

Another option would be a rotating drum screen. They’re great at capturing finer particles from wipes and tissues that have broken down some and impact wastewater treatment processes. The screenings caught in a rotating drum are compacted, dewatered, and spray washed to remove organics and water that continues to the next stages of wastewater treatment.

Talk to the Experts in Wastewater Treatment Equipment    

It helps to discuss possible upgrades with an expert in wastewater treatment systems. Engineers understand the best ways to come up with ways to prevent future issues. It may be upgrading your equipment or adding equipment that helps lower your energy bills, which balances out the cost of the new screens, pumps, etc.

When you’re moving wastewater, Archimedean screw pumps offer non-clog designs. These systems can be open or closed and are easy to maintain. Because the design helps prevent clogs, you don’t have to pre-screen wastewater. They’re a good choice for wastewater treatment plant lift stations.

Raptor screen products screen, wash, dewater, and compact waste at one time. The stainless steel construction provides longevity, while the all-in-one design handles several components of wastewater treatment at once.

Depending on the capacity of your system and the number of residential and business customers using your system, the best solution will vary. The experts at Lakeside Equipment are happy to discuss the issues you’re having and the best possible solutions. We’ll work with your budget and come up with designs and equipment that lower the risks of blockages and raw sewage releases. Call us to learn more.

Climate Change Brings About a Need to Look at Recycling Water

You’ve probably heard all about Lake Mead in the news. After reaching unheard of depths after years of drought conditions, two bodies and several sunken boats have been discovered in areas that used to be underwater. In areas like California and Arizona, drought conditions are drying up water sources and leading to grave concerns.

Weather patterns are changing. Areas that used to see rainfall or snow are experiencing droughts. Temperatures are going up, leading to unusually long droughts. It’s causing problems around the world, and experts are trying to figure out how to keep water from running out.

Water Shortages Around the World

Every continent is experiencing water shortages. It’s not just something happening in drier, hotter climates. As populations grow and temperatures increase, more water is being used than is being replenished. It takes a slow soaking rain to refill underground water sources like springs or gullies. These headwaters are where a river begins. Heavy rainfall may create quick, flooding water, but it will flow downstream before it helps replenish groundwater.

  • In Tulare County, California, dairy farms are digging their wells deeper and deeper to reach the groundwater. This is affecting neighbors with shallower drilled wells as they’re finding their own wells running dry.
  • Orange County in California found another problem happening. The draw on aquifers was so much that water from the ocean was able to seep in. They feared people would refuse to touch water that originated in a sewage treatment plant, but it was the only solution they could see.
  • In March, Governor Newsom signed an executive order banning well-drilling permits for any agricultural or industrial entity. In his executive order, he pointed out that water storage levels in Central Valley and Santa Clara Valley’s shared water reservoir are over 1 million acre-feet lower than in the prior year.
  • In Monterrey, Mexico, drought conditions led to city officials restricting residential water use to the hours of 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those six hours a day are all that the city’s 5.3 million people will be allowed to access. The hope is that this will help protect the city’s water supply.
  • The Californian town of Cambria announced in 2021 that after almost 40 years of depleting the town’s two primary water sources, they were almost out of water. As a level-four (of five) emergency was declared, residents were asked to cut water consumption by almost half. Plus, growth for this community was halted.
  • For some, that meant their applications to build on lots they own that already have water meters in place are being denied. Like many towns, Cambria is trying to figure out how to ensure community members can access water in their homes and businesses.
  • Las Vegas and Los Angeles are touted as an example of what communities can do. The city’s developers planned in advance. For decades, the city’s water system looked at water recycling and storage systems in the mountains as measures to take to prevent shortages. Plus, they request that people avoid outdoor watering to lower the demand on the city’s supplies during a drought.
  • Las Vegas pushes water recycling. Many of the resorts’ pools, fountains, and showers are designed to reuse water to lessen the draw on public water sources. Residential homes in Las Vegas no longer have grass. To prevent the need for watering lawns, artificial turf is used instead.
  • Melbourne, Australia, experienced a severe drought from 1997 to 2009. During part of that time, the city’s population also increased by over a million people. Water use increased by more than 10% in five years. During that time, the city added water recycling plants to try to lessen the demand for public water supplies.

Water recycling is the wave of the future. Some cities and districts are discovering the benefits. It’s time you did, too. It’s the best way to lower the demand on lakes, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water. Has your industrial or agricultural business or wastewater district considered the benefits of wastewater recycling? It’s time.

What Is Wastewater Recycling?

Wastewater recycling is an act where you clean and reuse water. Any homeowner that has barrels under gutters and uses that rainwater to water vegetable gardens is recycling water. On a grander scale, a water treatment plant can clean, disinfect, and return wastewater to a community’s water supply.

Across the country, municipal water supplies draw from a lake or river, clean the water, and send it to tanks for the public water system. Residents and business owners draw from those tanks every time they flush a toilet, do the laundry, take a shower, wash dishes, etc. The average person uses 101.5 gallons of water per day. It’s a lot of water being taken from water bodies.

Take Boston, Massachusetts, and the city’s population of 696,959. In one day, the average use means more than 70 million gallons of water are used. That’s one day! By the end of a year, more than 25 billion gallons of water are pulled from municipal water sources.

While many water treatment plants clean water coming from septic systems and sewers and return that water to local bodies of water, the water could go right into storage tanks to be used over and over. That reduces the draw of water from the usual sources like lakes and rivers.

How Does Water Recycling Work?

The Orange County Water District’s water recycling plant was developed back in the 1970s. Today, it generates about 35 million gallons of drinking water each day but can produce as much as 100 gallons. It’s slated to undergo an expansion in 2023, enabling the system to create 130 million gallons of public water each day.

How does it work? Wastewater goes from the wastewater treatment plant to the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). There it goes through five steps.

  1. Pre-Purification

After going through screening, grit chambers, filters, activated sludge, clarifiers, and final disinfection, the treated wastewater is pumped to the GWRS division. The wastewater is tested to ensure it meets the requirements after leaving the wastewater treatment plant.

  1. Microfiltration

As long as the treated wastewater meets the requirements, the water goes through microfiltration. Water passes through very thin straw-like fibers through tiny holes. Those holes capture any bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and microscopic solids.

  1. Reverse Osmosis

Once the water passes through the microfiltration step, it goes into reverse osmosis membranes to remove any pharmaceuticals and dissolved chemicals. After this process, the water is cleaned to a point that it’s similar to distilled water. To stabilize it, minerals must be added back in.

  1. UV Lights

Hydrogen peroxide and UV lights are the final step in disinfecting and killing off any remaining organics that got through the other stages.

  1. Water Delivery

Now that the water is completely clean and safe for drinking, it’s pumped into injection wells to prevent saltwater seepage and the rest recharges the basins. It filters through the sand and gravel to replenish the groundwater basins where public water is drawn from.

The wave of the future will be recycling water like Orange County is doing. Reusing water that’s consumed is key. Is your district considering taking this step? Reach out to Lakeside Equipment to learn more about the right pumps and biological treatment systems needed to replenish city water supplies with treated wastewater.

Advancements in Wastewater Cleaning of PFAs

Polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAs for short, include thousands of chemicals found in all kinds of products. They’re an area of growing concern as they’re found in the blood of both animals and humans. PFAs are also being found in the air, the soil, and water. All of that has been a target of change for years, and the EPA is finally taking the necessary steps.

While research is ongoing, it’s believed that exposure to PFAs is harmful. That much is clear. As PFAs make their way into the water, removing them from wastewater is important. It’s leading to advancements in the processes that can be used to remove PFAs from wastewater in wastewater treatment plants and grant money communities can apply for to have financial help at upgrading their equipment.

What Are PFAs?

So, what are PFAs? PFAs are manufactured chemicals found in many household and commercial products. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they don’t easily break down. They’re there building up in the soil, groundwater, and the air.

Many PFAs contain organic fluorine and carbons. Carbon-fluorine is one of the strongest bonds there is, so PFAs last forever. Some can damage the ozone layer when they become airborne. In your body, research is ongoing into exactly what harm they cause.

When it comes to public health, the fact that PFAs don’t break down easily is alarming as studies find that 97% of people have PFAs in their bloodstream. It’s believed that PFAs can impact fertility, increase the risk of certain cancers, and reduce immune system function. PFAs may increase the risk of obesity and metabolism.

There are more than 9,000 kinds of PFAs. Do you have non-stick coatings on your pots and pans? There are PFAs in those coatings. Do you have stain-resistant clothing, furniture upholstery, or carpeting? Again, there are PFAs. You’ll find PFAs in things like cosmetics, personal care products, paint, lawn and garden pesticides, water-resistant clothing, microwave popcorn packaging, and takeout food containers.

Steps have been taken to reduce the number of PFAs in things like water bottles, food containers, and dishware, which is good as it has started to reduce the numbers of PFAs in people and the environment. But, they’re not completely gone.

The government’s attention is turning to what can be done to keep PFAs out of water that’s cleaned and released from wastewater treatment plants. The next steps are to find more effective ways at removing them from wastewater. It’s believed that a new method can help with that, and so far it’s proving to be extremely effective.

What Is the New Method of Cleaning PFAs?

University of California, Riverside found a way to clean PFAs from wastewater using a photochemical reaction. The process involves the addition of iodide and sulfite to wastewater that was in the treatment process. When those two additives are exposed to UV lighting, iodide speeds up a reaction between the PFAs and sulfite, destroying up to 90% of the PFAs in less time and with less energy. It becomes a cost-effective, effective way of removing PFAs.

If wastewater treatment plants switched to this process, it can lead to almost all of the PFAs in wastewater being removed before the wastewater goes back into lakes, rivers, and ponds. This keeps fish and animals from being exposed to as many PFAs, which in turn means humans wouldn’t be eating fish that contain higher PFA levels. Plus, it’s faster, so treatment facilities save money on energy consumption.

How Are PFAs Currently Handled in Wastewater Treatment?

Removing PFAs from wastewater or public water sources can be a costly process. The most effective methods involve the use of high-pressure membranes, anion exchange resin, and granular activated carbon that is formulated specifically to remove PFAs from wastewater. As it’s expensive, it’s not really something that many water districts have thought about until recently. Things are changing, however, as the EPA is taking steps to check for and address contaminated water systems.

In September 2021, the EPA changed three requirements to try to limit the amount of PFAs going to drinking water supplies, waters with aquatic animals, and bodies of water that are used for recreation. Before wastewater can be released to those three water supplies, PFAs from manufacturing plants, metal finishing facilities, and poultry/meat processing plants must have been treated to meet effluent guidelines.

How Could a Wastewater Treatment Plant Incorporate This New Process?

As treatment processes improve, what can you do to be ready? Start by applying for grants.

With 2022 came changes to the Clean Water Act. The new Infrastructure Law is marking millions of dollars to help fight PFAs from entering water systems. The goal is to reduce PFAs being released to bodies of water or being returned to public water systems. Even if there are no standards required in your area yet, you may need to issue health advisories if the wastewater levels exceed the EPA guidelines of:

  • GenX Chemicals – 10 parts per trillion/Minimum reporting at 5 ppt
  • PFBS – 2,000 parts per trillion/Minimum reporting at 3 ppt
  • PFOA – 0.004 parts per trillion/Minimum reporting at 4 ppt
  • PFOS – 0.02 parts per trillion/Minimum reporting at 4 ppt

Now is a good time to address making changes. In June 2022, the EPA announced $1 billion in grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These grants will be used to help establish wastewater treatment systems that can remove PFAs from drinking water supplies. If your wastewater treatment plant provides drinking water to a community, especially small or low-income communities, it’s important to apply for these grants and take the next steps to improve water quality.

Even the smallest changes can help. If there are manufacturing plants, metal finishing facilities, or meat and poultry processing plants in your area, make sure they’re treating their industrial wastewater before releasing it into sewers. They should be, and your district should be making sure they’re taking steps to properly treat wastewater before it’s released.

Right now, the tests on iodide and sulfite are still in the early stages. But, you could take some steps to get ahead and be ready to try it out. Look into UV disinfection systems. They’re currently used to help kill germs and microbes. As this technology could become helpful in removing PFAs, it’s a good time to look into using grants to upgrade your existing system with things like granular charcoal filtration and UV disinfection.

Lakeside Equipment offers a full range of equipment to help your wastewater treatment plant clean water in the most cost-effective way possible. Whether you want to upgrade existing equipment or add new equipment and filtration solutions for cleaner water, our experts can help you out. Reach us online or by phone to learn more.

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.