How Can You Prevent Overflow Situations When It Floods?

During Hurricane Ian, upwards of 20 inches of rain fell in southwestern Florida. Bradenton is one of many water treatment plants that had no choice but to release millions of gallons of wastewater into a nearby river. A spill of 7.2 million gallons of sewer water leaked into the Indian River Lagoon. Miami saw thousands of gallons of sewage overflow into storm drains. These are just two of a long list of issues, and it’s not a problem Florida officials are seeing for the first time.

During two hurricanes in 2016, 250 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the environment. Millions of gallons leaked during Hurricane Irma in 2017. One area that saw no issues was the Florida Keys, where $1 billion in upgrades led to sealed pipes and an advanced wastewater treatment system that removes nitrogen and releases the treated water over 3,000 feet below sea level.

Florida isn’t the only state experiencing raw sewage spills during flooding rains. Back in January, 8.5 million gallons of sewage spilled into a Los Angeles waterway. Wisconsin Rapids saw about 165,000 gallons overflow into the Wisconsin River.

These sewage spills are public health hazards. The raw sewage is rife with pathogens like E. coli, campylobacter, and salmonella. Nitrogen in the waste can lead to algae blooms in the rivers, lakes, and oceans.  When there are flooding rains, overflow situations are possible. How can you prevent them?

What Is Your Current Set-Up?

Combined sewer overflow is a system where stormwater runoff, sewage, and industrial wastewater all flow in one pipe to one wastewater treatment plant. If stormwater runoff increases in heavy rainfall or snowmelt, the excess water can become a problem for the treatment plant. Suddenly, there’s more water coming in than the equipment can handle and the plant has to release untreated wastewater to the lake or river.

Many cities and districts have moved away from this system, but approximately 700 of these systems still exist according to the EPA. They’re all bound to the 1994 CSO Control Policy and the Clean Water Act. If you’re in a district where this is the design, it’s time to consider a change.

Sanitary sewer systems are more common. Sewer and industrial wastewater travel to the wastewater treatment plant while storm runoff travels to storm drains and out to bodies of water from there. Storm runoff isn’t treated, so it’s important that area residents don’t pour chemicals down storm drains. 

Introducing the Integrated Planning Elements

A few years ago, Congress enacted the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act. The idea was to offer ways for districts to voluntarily begin to make changes in stormwater and wastewater planning in order to meet standards set forth in the Clean Water Act. There are six elements to the framework of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.

  1. Brainstorm and plan out the requirements and drivers.
  2. Map out the existing infrastructure in a municipality’s stormwater and wastewater systems.
  3. Connect with project stakeholders.
  4. Brainstorm, evaluate, and select alternative plans.
  5. Analyze the performance.
  6. Formally adopt the necessary changes.

Just over two dozen districts started to integrate measures or developed and completed their changes. As more money is being earmarked for infrastructure improvements, it’s time to look at the steps your wastewater and stormwater district can take to lower the chances of a sewage spill during flooding.

Look at Your Capacity and Add Flood-Proofing Measures

Stop and look at the current capacity of your wastewater treatment facility. If heavy rainfall is causing system overflows, it’s time to look at upgrades, repairs, and adding to the existing capacity. Not only can that increased capacity help in times of heavy rain, but it also helps with population growth in the years to come.

In addition, if your facility is in a low-lying area, it’s time to look at flood-proofing measures that help protect tanks, ponds, and other equipment. Flood barriers are ideal for keeping flood water away, and servers and network hubs need to be on higher ground. Submersible pumps will help protect your equipment. Use the EPA’s flood planning guide to determine if you could be impacted by a 100-year flood and get helpful tips on where you should focus your upgrades and changes.

Upgrade Your Older Equipment 

If you have older wastewater treatment equipment, it’s time to address the benefits of upgrading to newer, more efficient waterproof or submersible pumps and motors. Ideally, look for equipment that has adjustable motors that will work harder when flow rates increase and slow down when it decreases.

An addition of a bar screen may be enough to help with combined sewer overflows. If back-ups occur regularly as trash, sticks, branches, leaves, and other materials build up on screens, it’s time to look at better screening. With trash and other debris cleared and moved to a landfill, it allows water to flow correctly, which prevents overflows and costly fines.

If you don’t already have Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) technology, you need it. Computers can monitor how well the system is working and identify problems before they start. With flowmeters, facility personnel can spot overflows, chemical imbalances, and leaks and take immediate action. 

Plus, SCADA can help you automate your facility. You’ll still need operators, but you’ll have 24/7 monitoring to avoid overflows. Being able to analyze real-time data and get timely alerts is important when it comes to flood management and avoidance of fines and EPA violations.

Careful City Design Is Equally Important

A stormwater system and wastewater treatment plan should make upgrades to help prevent overflow situations, but it also helps if city planners look at environmentally-friendly changes that help with rainwater. 

Permeable surfaces are key to this process. Instead of paved roads, concrete sidewalks, and other impermeable structures that allow water to collect and flow like a river, add green areas where the water can soak in. Rain gardens, porous paving materials, and green roofs also help. 

Bioswales are also gaining popularity. These sunken areas along roads are filled with greenery and piping that helps complete the primary filtering before distributing the water that’s in excess of what the plants use.

Instead of building right on river banks, setting buildings farther away to allow for the rise of water in a floodplain is also important. 

Get Expert Advice from Lakeside Equipment

Work with an expert in water treatment designs, repairs, and installations. It’s important that your system be carefully designed to meet your growing community’s needs and changing weather patterns. Every measure you take to prepare your facility for flooding or heavy rain is important.

Lakeside Equipment specializes in water treatment and has been in business for nearly a century. Talk to us about your current treatment plant’s equipment and where you feel it’s falling short. We’ll help you design a cost-effective system that’s prepared for floods and population growth.

Is Your District Overdue on Water Treatment Plant Updates?

As years go by, the EPA changes and updates public water treatment requirements. It’s a district’s responsibility to keep up with those changes. As policies change, it doesn’t mean that water treatment plants are able to keep up. Lakeside Equipment is ready to help you take a closer look at what these changes mean for your water treatment district.

Colorado is one state where recent changes by the EPA are causing headaches. The EPA is adding new guidelines regarding the safe limits for PFAs (aka Forever Chemicals) in drinking water. The new policies call for a drop from 70 parts per trillion to no more than 1 part per trillion for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid). These limits are too low for some labs to test for, and many water treatment plants lack the equipment needed to get the levels to those new guidelines.

It’s a problem as around 50% of Colorado’s water districts do not test for PFOA or PFOS. Of those that do, 76 have higher levels than is recommended. In one city, the PFOS level was at 3.5 parts per trillion. The cost for that city to upgrade filtration is around $10 million, and Colorado is slated to get about $321 million of the $1 billion Federal Infrastructure Bill, so only 30 or so water treatment plants will get funding to help offset the upgrades.

Has your district started looking at government grants and funding to make important upgrades to your water treatment plant? By now, it’s likely that you have. It’s time to look at all of the latest changes and what it means for your district.

The Dangers of PFOA and PFOS

The forever chemicals PFOA and PFOS are newer concerns. Over time, they affect the cardiovascular system and a person’s immune function. They also increase the risk of certain cancers, and it’s believed they impact fetal development. Some studies have found they impact thyroid function, kidney health, and reproduction.

As a result of these studies, the EPA came up with a lifetime health advisory, warning people to minimize their lifetime exposure to these forever chemicals in the water they drink, the foods they eat, and consumer products. The new drinking water advisories listed by the EPA are:

  • PFOA – 0.004 parts per trillion
  • PFOS – 0.02 parts per trillion
  • PFBS – 2,000 parts per trillion
  • GenX Chemicals – 10 parts per trillion

These forever chemicals build up in your blood. They’re found in the water, in the air, and in the soil. They don’t go away, and that’s why the EPA issued a lifetime health advisory.

Lead Pipes Are Still a Concern and Steps Are Being Taken to Get Rid of Them

Even if a water district has clean water, the pipes that carry water into homes, schools, and businesses may contain lead solder or lead pipes. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan addresses lead contamination. An investment of $15 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is earmarked to remove lead pipes across the nation.

As of 2021, around 22 million homes were getting drinking water through lead pipes. Some states have a higher risk than others. These states had the highest number of lead pipes.

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

Every state still has lead pipes in service and that’s something that has to be addressed. The dangers of lead have been proven. Exposure to lead can cause anemia, brain damage, kidney damage, and weakness.

What Upgrades Should You Be Making?

When it comes to your water treatment district, what upgrades do you need to make? For many districts, better filtration is essential. In a home, dual-stage filters with activated carbon and reverse osmosis are effective. It’s found that reverse osmosis is the most effective method for removing PFAS. Nanofiltration is also helpful.

Sweeney Water Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, installed granulated activated carbon filters and has been testing them since 2019. As of 2022, they now have water that’s free of PFAS. To get to that point, they spent more than $100 million. They plan to recover the money from the companies that contaminated the city’s waterways through federal lawsuits.

In Peabody, Massachusetts, a $36 million Clean & Sustainable Water Infrastructure Plan upgraded the city’s water treatment plant with new technology, an updated lab, and new filtration to remove forever chemicals from the water. They also made sure the city’s water treatment plant is ready to manage 3 million gallons per day, though they’re only currently managing around 1 million gallons daily. They made sure the plant is ready for future growth.

Lead pipes and forever chemicals are concerns, but it’s also important to look at your facility’s equipment. How old are your pumps, filtration systems, lab equipment, etc.? If you built your facility to handle a population of 100,000 and you’re now at 99,000, you may soon reach capacity. What happens then?

What filtration are you using? Many plants are finding the best success with granulated activated carbon. GAC filters are doing a good job removing PFAS, so you want to look into those. While you’re making those upgrades, make sure your lab is able to test for forever chemicals. The easier it is to check your levels quickly and accurately, the better it is for your community.

While you’re making changes to your filters, pumps, and upgrading equipment, consider future growth. What if there’s a boom in growth due to a new apartment complex or building housing office space? If you can plan your changes around population increases, it’s beneficial.

Are you in an area prone to storms? If your water treatment plant is in any way connected to wastewater treatment or storm runoff, you have to factor in climate change, too. Storms may worsen, so plan around those changes. You don’t want to end up with a water system that’s contaminated in a flood, extremely heavy rains, or sudden snow melt.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades Save Money

No upgrade should be considered without also considering ways to save money. If you could install solar panels or wind turbines to help power your water treatment plant, you save your district members money. Those savings pay for the upgrades over time. It’s worth taking a closer look at new equipment that saves money by using less power, pairs with alternative energy sources, or is low-maintenance.

Work With An Expert to Plan the Best Changes for Your Water Treatment Plant

These are some of the changes plants around the nation are making. What steps should you take? The best way to plan for growth and changing water treatment requirements is by working with an expert in water treatment. Lakeside Equipment has been in the industry for close to 100 years.

Our company’s been in water treatment since 1928 and strives to help every community have clean, safe drinking water and waterways. Talk to our water treatment experts to learn more about the best upgrades for your district’s drinking water. Lakeside Equipment works with your budget and helps you determine the responsible way to grow your water treatment plant, better clean the water, and keep cost increases down for your community members.

Changing Weather Patterns Demonstrate the Need to Evaluate Your Current Equipment

Hurricane Ian destroyed so many beaches, businesses, and homes across Florida. As the storm was slated to hit the Tampa Bay area and then ended up hitting farther south, people weren’t always prepared and didn’t always have the time to evacuate. That’s just one area of concern with changing weather patterns.

The storm surge and heavy rains lead to power outages and raw sewage flooded out of sewers and wastewater treatment plants, releasing untreated sewage into rivers and streets. Bradenton’s wastewater treatment plant reported having to release millions of gallons of wastewater into the Manatee River. Orlando released tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater before it was fully treated. In Miami, thousands of gallons bubbled up from the sewers.

Hurricane Ian’s rainfall almost reached two feet by the time it left the western coastline. No one was prepared for that amount of rainfall, followed by a substantial storm surge. It has raised awareness that the infrastructure in Florida is not prepared for these massive storms. How prepared is your wastewater treatment plant?

Take a Close Look at Your Infrastructure

One of the problems affecting Florida’s sewers and wastewater treatment facilities is outdated piping. Some of the pipes are made from cast iron and are corroding. Until the 1970s, some districts used piping known as Orangeburg, which was a compressed wood fiber with a water-resistant adhesive, and coal tar.

Orangeburg was affordable, but it was only intended to last for 50 years. The problem is, some of the piping failed within 10 years. In some areas of Florida, Orangeburg piping is still being used. As cities bring homeowners on septic systems to sewer systems, the changeovers are made, but it takes time and money.

Florida isn’t the only place in the nation that needs to stop and take a closer look at its infrastructure. Northern Virginia is working on a project to install a two-mile sewer tunnel that goes under the Potomac River to try to stop the release of untreated wastewater going into the river. Alexandria, Virginia, only has one main sewer pipe for stormwater and sewage, and it causes serious issues. Cities like Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Seattle, Washington, are working on similar upgrades.

Get a better picture of just how many systems are facing similar problems. Here are some of the most important facts from the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card.

  • Over 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. are operating at 81% of their systems’ capacities.
  • Around 15% of them have exceeded capacity.
  • Wastewater treatment plans typically have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years.
  • The nation’s underground piping bringing wastewater to treatment plants or clean drinking water to homes and businesses is an average of 45 years old and has a lifespan of 50 to 100 years.
  • Older piping is a problem as cracks and fractures allow stormwater and groundwater to seep into the sewer pipes, increasing the flow entering a facility, which puts more demand on the system’s equipment.
  • One out of five Americans rely on a septic tank, and the liquids and solids from those tanks are hauled to an area wastewater treatment plant, so every American relies on their area’s wastewater treatment plant.

The importance of a wastewater treatment system extends to every corner of the nation. Yet if you look at the burden of the cost of the necessary upgrades between 1977, when the government’s capital investment was 63%, and today, it’s concerning. In 2017, the federal government’s capital investment was down to 9%. President Biden signed an infrastructure bill that’s an important first step in making improvements, but there’s a lot of work to do.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $15 billion is earmarked for the replacement of lead water pipes. States are also given funding for water projects, so it’s important to look into what’s available in your state’s revolving loan fund. Total wastewater grants and funding include:

  • $75 million for information sharing regarding water infrastructure and water quality
  • $100 million for wastewater efficiency grants
  • $125 million for system resilience
  • $200 for new sewer system connections to help move some areas from septic systems to area sewers
  • $250 million for new installations, repairs, or replacements of septic systems
  • $1.4 billion for measures to control and treat sewer and stormwater-related overflows

What should you be doing? It’s time to take a closer look at your equipment. Just how quickly can it work? Does it require someone to be onsite for changes or is it automated? Is your equipment pretty trouble-free or does it require frequent maintenance?

Another question to ask is where stormwater runoff goes. In older districts, there is a chance that stormwater runoff is channeled to wastewater treatment plants. This isn’t as common, but it still does happen around the U.S. If there are flooding rains and the stormwater rushes to a wastewater treatment plant, it can pose serious issues with untreated wastewater being released. Separating those systems should be a consideration.

In your district, what piping is being used? What is the capacity of the equipment in your treatment plant? Are your stormwater run-off and wastewater treatment systems connected? If there is a massive flood or unheard-of levels of storm surge, are you prepared? If not, it’s time to consider what you can do to be prepared.

The Florida Keys Shows the Importance of Change

The Florida Keys spent around $1 billion upgrading their wastewater and stormwater systems. They installed sealed pipes to prevent stormwater from getting into the sewers. Their wastewater equipment was upgraded with a treatment system for nitrogen removal to help prevent algal blooms and the wastewater treatment plant’s cleaned water was released 3,000 feet below ground instead of at the surface.

That system seemed to do well. After the flooding from 2017’s Hurricane Irma, no sewage spills occurred. In the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Pollution Notice Report, no mention of the Keys was made after Hurricane Ian.

If your system hasn’t been upgraded lately, it’s a good time to consider making improvements. Not only can you install upgrades that save on energy consumption, but you can use grants to add solar panels or wind turbines to reduce your demand on the power grid. Burning the methane produced in your plant for heat is another great upgrade.

From Raptor Complete Plant systems to grit collectors and trash rakes to open and enclosed screw pumps, Lakeside Equipment can help you upgrade older equipment to handle higher capacities. We offer SharpBNR process control systems to ensure your facility meets its goals. Many times, the money you save on energy bills or by avoiding EPA fines pays for the system in little time.

Lakeside Equipment provides cost-effective wastewater, hydroelectricity, and water treatment equipment for your municipal and industrial needs. Our experts have been helping deliver cleaner water since 1928. Reach out to our team to discuss how we can help you save money and ensure you’re meeting your community’s water treatment goals.

The Value of Trash Rakes in Your Wastewater Treatment Plant

Does your wastewater treatment plant have trash rakes installed to clean racks and screens from the trash that collects as wastewater comes in from sewers? Why is this important? It keeps the lines from clogging with unnecessary items and dead animals that have made their way into sewers. It also helps prevent excess strain on pumps, pipes, and other wastewater treatment equipment.

Trash rakes work with your existing trash racks and screens. If you don’t have them installed, you should. If you do and they’re not working effectively, it’s important to look at making upgrades to ensure your sewer system or stormwater drains don’t back up because the water can’t get through.

People Flush Items That Were Never Meant to be Flushed, or They Put Them Down Sinks

People don’t always realize that the items they’re flushing are incredibly damaging. Those items need to be screened before they cause equipment failures that can take time and money to repair. Sometimes, the items that get flushed are believed to be flushable. Flushable wipes are one of the most common. While the packaging says they’re flushable, they do not break down easily.

That’s just a start. Pouring grease down a drain creates fatbergs that clog lines and may break off into chunks and make their way into wastewater treatment plants to further clog lines. In New York City, the city reported that of the 2,382 sewer backups in 2018, three out of four of them were caused by grease buildup. At that point, one sewer line repair cost as much as $15,000.

Plastic tampon applicators, wrappers, condoms, pads, diapers, and cat litter are other problematic items. There are surprising items that you wouldn’t expect, too. The American Chemical Society reported that 21% of contact wearers flush their disposable contacts rather than throwing them into the trash as they should. It’s estimated that 3 million contacts end up in wastewater treatment plants.

Some wastewater treatment plants also receive stormwater when it rains. In facilities where stormwater and sewer water both come into the plant, a trash rack can capture leaves, branches, rocks, and trash like bottles, cans, and plastic bags that travel into storm drains and to wastewater treatment plants or rivers, lakes, and oceans.

To prevent damage from these items, they get caught up on trash racks and screens. Rakes are used to rake or scrape debris from the racks or screens, move them to dumpsters, and move them to landfills or incinerators.

Trash rakes also help clean the screens and trash racks to ensure water continues to flow into the plant. If too much trash builds up, the water flow diminishes and that could lead to back-ups in the sewer lines.

Types of Trash Rakes

What type of trash rake is best for your wastewater treatment plant? It comes down to your current equipment and plant size. Generally, there are two raking systems: cable operated and hydraulic

  1. Cable Operated

Catronic systems are heavy-duty systems using a rake head and cable winch that can clean trash racks with depths of 200 feet and lift up to 20 tons of materials. They’re energy-efficient and can be retrofitted to existing structures. They’re also easy to maintain as the components are above the water during standby.

Monorail systems are best for facilities that have several bar racks. The Catronic Monorail systems are suspended above trash racks on a monorail. The trash rake moves along the monorail and drops down using the cable system. It’s then pulled back up to move the trash into an awaiting dumpster.

The Catronic Monorail system can be retrofitted to work with existing trash racks. It’s energy-efficient and works effectively. Maintenance is performed once the system is parked away from the rack. As the rake travels along the monorail to areas away from the operating deck, trash isn’t accidentally dropped into inconvenient areas.

Your options are:

  • Catronic Series – Add optional jib cranes or hydraulic grab cranes for heavy debris that’s floating on the surface.
  • Monorail Series – Combines the rake head and cable trolley system.
  1. Hydraulic

Hydraulic systems telescope to the trash rack to clean it. As there is no need for a monorail or guide, it can clean at better angles (up to 90 degrees), which makes it a favorite choice for wastewater treatment plants. You can get stationary, swiveling, or traversing rakes. You can get single gripping jaws, triple jaws, or orange peel grapples that can go hundreds of feet down.

Some of the advantages of hydronic trash rakes include that operators can adjust the pressure on the trash screen for optimal cleaning. All mechanical components are above the water for easy maintenance, plus there are no chains, guides, or sprockets to wear out. You can get Hydronic trash rakes in galvanized steel or stainless steel.

Your options are:

  • Hydronic H Series – Horizontal design that pivots into a bar rack and travels sideways and is most commonly used in river water intakes at water treatment plants to protect aquatic life
  • Hydronic K Series – Stationary, Swiveling, or Traversing rakes that can clean at depths of up to 100 feet.
  • Hydronic T Series – Telescoping rakes that can either be stationary or traversing.
  • Hydronic Multifunctional – A traversing rake with manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic articulating or combination articulating and telescoping rake to clean at depths of up to 150 feet.

The goal of trash and screen rakes is to capture and remove debris before it clogs lines or damages equipment. With so many consumers and businesses flushing items that shouldn’t go down the toilet, trash and screen rakes are a necessary investment. How do you know what you need?

When you’re considering your options, look for automated trash rakes. In Portland, Oregon, older trash rakes weren’t doing their job with the flood management system and kept shutting down. Employees had to go out on a barge to clear the grates.

The city upgraded to trash rakes that could lift a minimum of 2,000 pounds instead of the 1,250 pounds the current system was managing. They also needed a trash rake that fit the required dimensions. They ended up choosing five Lakeside Muhr Model T-260 Hydronic T trash rakes. Cleaning time was greatly reduced and efficiency at the plant greatly improved.

Work With a Professional in Water Treatment

The easiest way to design a trash rake system that does what you need is by working with a professional. Lakeside Equipment has a complete line of trash and screen rakes. We’ve been engineering, developing, and providing the water treatment systems municipalities and industries need since 1928. We have a lot of experience in designing cost-effective, efficient systems.

Talk to us to learn more about your options that will complement your current equipment and protect the piping, pumps, and other wastewater treatment from costly damage. Contact your local sales representative today.

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.