Upgrading Aging Wastewater Treatment Facilities: Tips For Modernization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build Your Wastewater Treatment Facility’s Upgrades Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Look Into Energy-Efficient Measures

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

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

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

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

Is It Time to Convert Integrated Sewer and Stormwater Systems?

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

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

Always Work With a Qualified Engineer

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

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

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

Wastewater Treatment Compliance: Navigating Regulatory Standards

Wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. treat around 238 billion gallons of wastewater each week. In addition, about 20% of U.S. homes and businesses are on septic systems that have underground tanks and piping that work with the sand and bedrock to filter wastewater and capture solids in the tank to be pumped out every year or two. Any wastewater has an abundance of phosphorus and nitrogen from household cleaners, personal care products, and human waste. That’s a problem.

Nitrogen and phosphorus damage water ecosystems as they cause algae blooms and pollution that harms fish and other aquatic creatures. Plus, water that contains toxic blue-green algae is fatal to pets. To protect people and animals from contaminated water, wastewater treatment plants must comply with regulatory standards.

What Regulations Are There?

Water treatment regulations exist on federal, state, and city/town levels. It’s impossible to know exactly what the regulations that apply to you are going to be as it comes down to your municipality and the percentage of homes, businesses, industries, and type of sewer system. When it comes to the federal government’s regulations, you’re looking at these two areas.

The Clean Water Act (CWA):

The CWA includes federal regulations that wastewater treatment plants must meet. When they apply for a permit to operate, the EPA sets the limits that the plant must adhere to. If those levels are not met, the wastewater treatment plant must alert the EPA and face fines if the problem could have been avoided. Sudden floods are often harder to avoid, but planning in advance for record-breaking rainfall and storms is beneficial.

The regulations in the CWA are designed to get pollutants out of the water before it’s released into a lake, river, or ocean. Nitrogen and phosphorus are just two of the things that are treated. Wastewater also needs to have pollutants like cadmium, cyanide, lead, nickel, silver, etc. removed to the required levels. 

Different districts will experience different contaminants, and that’s why the EPA will set limits. A city that has an abundance of paper mills or meat processing plants will have different pollutants to one that only has banks, houses, and office buildings. To help with this, some wastewater treatment plants require industrial plants in their municipality to add their own industrial wastewater treatment plants for pre-treatment.

A city that has an abundance of restaurants will deal with more fats, oil, and grease (FOG) than one that is more industrial or residential. FOG is notorious for solidifying in sewers and pipes and merging with tissue paper and plastic wrappers, which creates costly blockages. For that reason, some wastewater treatment districts also require restaurants and food service industries to have grease traps installed in their kitchens.

Does your district also accept hauled septage? If so, you’re going to be getting trucks full of wastewater from septic tanks at homes and businesses. As a septic tank has pipes that release wastewater to the leach field, and solids and FOG remain in the tank, hauled septage will have a higher percentage of solids.

One more thing that is considered when issuing wastewater permits and regulations is what type of sewer system it is. A separate sanitary sewer only has wastewater from homes and businesses. Combined sewers combine a sanitary sewer with stormwater runoff. As they have to deal with an influx of water during a storm or when snow melts, these systems may experience more flooding than a separate system.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA):

Some wastewater treatment plants send their water back to a water treatment plant for a sustainable water system. It lowers the amount of water that’s drawn from lakes or rivers, which is essential in areas where droughts are common. For water treatment plants, regulations set forth by the SDWA come into play.

The SDWA requires water treatment plants to get arsenic, asbestos, lead, mercury, and microbials out of the district’s drinking water. The list of microbes is long and includes things like E. coli, giardia, and legionella. Treatment processes must target these and other regulated contaminants that states, cities, and towns may add. 

Water treatment often uses chemicals like chlorine to kill bacteria and parasites. That chlorine also must be filtered to get it to safe levels. Many districts must add fluoride for oral health, but it has to be at the right levels so water treatment workers have to test and ensure water is safe before it’s released to the public water system.

How Do You Make Sure You’re in Compliance?

A wastewater district manager needs to make sure regulations are followed, otherwise, fines and penalties are possible. This can be tougher than originally thought as weather patterns change and a flood can be devastating and lead to a sudden release of raw sewage. Proper measures are needed to prevent this. Use these tips to stay in compliance.

Analyze Flow Rates

Analyze the flow rates throughout the day. You’re going to have fluctuations throughout the day. Incoming wastewater may be worse in the morning when people are showering for work or school, but much slower throughout the day. After 5 p.m. when people come back home and cook dinner, rates increase again. 

As you learn when more wastewater comes in, make sure pumps and equipment keep up with those rates. You can do this manually, but it’s better to have an automated pump that adjusts for changes in flow rates. This is ideal during storms when there may be higher flow rates than usual because of rainfall coming in from stormwater drains.

Consider the Wastewater

What are you more likely to have coming in? If you are in a district with a combined sewer, dirt and gravel are going to come in whenever it rains and drains into the stormwater system. Gravel, dirt, and sand wear out components quickly, but a grit collection system continually washes and separates grit to protect your equipment. 

Embrace Technology

Technology is helpful when it comes to staying up-to-date on wastewater regulations. As the EPA adds new contaminants to the list, you need to quickly address those items within your treatment process. With advanced technology helping out, you’re in a good place to adapt to changes.

Add a SharpBNR system to continually monitor your wastewater treatment equipment and processes and adjust them automatically if anything is off. Before a catastrophe occurs, you’ll get the alert and can get to the plant to check on things. 

What’s Your Budget? 

Finally, you do have to keep your budget in mind. While government grants to improve the nation’s infrastructure are available, they may not cover everything. Sometimes, a low-interest loan is needed to make improvements within your wastewater treatment plant. 

Work with an expert in wastewater treatment to find the best improvements for the budget you have. Lakeside Equipment has been in business since 1928 and is ready to help you meet your wastewater treatment regulations and be prepared for future changes. Our team of engineers and plant operators have the expertise you need to run an effective, efficient plant.

How Your Facility Could Benefit From Biological Wastewater Treatment

Biological wastewater treatment is a process where bacteria break down the organic substances in wastewater. Wastewater typically contains food particles, toilet paper, solids, and even pharmaceuticals, pathogens, toxins like cleaning products, and heavy metals.

All of these have to be cleaned from the wastewater before it is clean enough to be released to nearby lakes, rivers, or ponds. It’s an essential part of any wastewater treatment program. Whether you own a wastewater treatment plant or have a plant or industrial facility that produces a lot of wastewater each day, you need a biological treatment system that helps clean wastewater.

How Does Biological Wastewater Treatment Work?

The wastewater that comes into a treatment plant is contaminated with many things. You have urine, feces, water from showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and baths. Water coming in from a sewer may have wastewater from factories, car washes, industrial laundromats, and public toilets. It has to be cleaned properly before it is released back into your community’s lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.

To do this, water flows or is pumped into a septage acceptance plant and goes through screens into clarifying tanks where solids sink to the bottom and are removed using pumps. Floating items like fats, oils, and grease float to the surface and are removed. Trash rakes work with the screens to clear out larger items like plastics, rags, and flushable wipes, which really should never be flushed as they do not break down as you’d expect.

While you may have removed a lot of material and sludge from the wastewater, there are still many contaminants in the wastewater. It will go into an aeration tank where it is pumped full of small oxygen bubbles. This oxygen is important as it’s part of a biological aerobic treatment process.

With this, oxygen feeds the bacteria, which gets them energized to start feeding on the pollutants. That breaks down pollutants and converts them into phosphate, nitrate, and carbon dioxide. The wastewater settles again, and any remaining sludge is removed. This process continues with bacteria helping remove pollutants 

Aerobic treatments are faster than the anaerobic process that skips the use of oxygen. With this process, biogas is produced, which can affect the environment. Because of this, aeration is often preferred as it’s fast, efficient, and effective. 

If you need a cost-effective option for biological treatment using aeration, a Sequencing Batch Reactor has a small footprint and can be expanded if that’s needed in the future. It has a continuous feed system that repeats the aeration, settling, and decanting phases in a reactor basin. It’s a five-phase operation:

  • Mix Fill – The valve opens to allow raw wastewater into the tank as the mixer turns on, but aeration is turned off.
  • React Fill – Aeration turns on and off as phosphorus, nitrogen, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), are processed or treated. 
  • React – The valve allowing raw wastewater into the tank shuts off the flow. Aeration and mixing continue to completely treat the wastewater for the final stages before release.
  • Settle – Aeration and mixing stop to allow any solids to sink to the bottom or rise to the top. 
  • Sludge Removal – Sludge and scum are removed from the system and the clear water is released or decanted. 

What Are Biological Wastewater Treatment’s Benefits?

Biological wastewater treatment is an essential part of a wastewater treatment plant. It’s what keeps pollution out of rivers, lakes, and oceans. It also helps conserve water in some regions as treated water goes into tanks where it’s drawn into the water treatment facility for additional disinfection to make it safe for the community members to drink, cook with, and shower in.

Facilities that use a lot of water can also benefit from biological wastewater treatment processes. If you own a facility like a meat processing plant, the strain you put on a local wastewater treatment district is tremendous. You can improve your company’s reputation by taking extra steps to lower the strain you’re putting on your district’s facilities.

With industrial wastewater facilities that handle biological treatments before releasing your wastewater to the sewers, you help out. You lower the work required to treat the wastewater you’re releasing, which reduces your district’s operating costs.

Wastewater treatment districts that use biological treatment processes find it easier to comply with federal and state regulations. Businesses that pre-treat wastewater help keep districts in compliance. 

People also benefit. With an increased number of industrial wastewater facilities at different factories and plants, it creates jobs for people in your community.

It creates cleaner water that’s going into lakes, rivers, and oceans. If you live in an area where you spend time in the water, you want the assurance that you’re swimming or boating in clean water and not being exposed to contaminants. You don’t want to eat fish that are a potential health risk because they’ve ingested too many pharmaceuticals or toxins.

Studies have found that fish that are exposed to water with high levels of birth control medications are impacted. They don’t lay as many eggs, which can deplete the availability of seafood. Biological wastewater treatment is an important step in protecting waterways.

What Types of Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems Are Popular Today?

As mentioned earlier, aerobic is quicker as you add oxygen into the process. But, anaerobic is best when you want to convert your organic materials into methane, carbon dioxide, and biomass. A third option, Anoxic, requires the use of nitrates, nitrites, selenite, or sulfate to feed the bacteria.

Activated sludge is the most commonly used biological wastewater treatment method and it’s been around for over a century. It’s an aerobic wastewater treatment technology. It’s going to be the first choice in many districts.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, but it’s a conversation you should have with an expert in wastewater treatment. You need to make sure whatever changes you make remain in compliance with federal and state regulations.

If your wastewater treatment facility isn’t using biological wastewater treatment processes, it’s time. Lakeside Equipment can help guide you into the best processes to add to your current system. Our wastewater experts advise you on the cost of biological wastewater treatment to ensure any additions fit your district’s budget. We’ll help you make sure you are following regulatory requirements. 

Lakeside Equipment has been helping clean water around the world for close to a century. Our team has the solutions you need at a budget you can afford. Reach us online or by phone to talk about your facility’s needs and what improvements will help make wastewater treatment processes efficient and effective.

The Benefits of Installing a Wastewater Clarifier in Industrial Facilities

Clarification is a key step in cleaning wastewater. Primary clarification helps remove solids like FOG, scum, and sludge. Secondary clarification starts to remove some of the germs, microbes, and small particles. Before your industrial wastewater heads to the sewers, you must add a wastewater clarifier. What are the benefits?

Stay in Compliance With Local, State, and Federal Regulations

Have you looked at your local, state, and federal regulations? You may be legally required to install a wastewater clarifier

The federal government has many restrictions on wastewater treatment in categories like battery manufacturing, the dairy industry, medical offices/hospitals, meat and poultry processing plants, paper/pulp mills, seafood processing plants, and dozens of others. If you’re one of those industries, industrial wastewater treatment is required.

States may have their own regulations. Some regions of Massachusetts set stricter rules than the EPA has for the reuse of biosolids from wastewater treatment. You can’t always follow federal government rules and still be doing everything correctly. You need to check with your local wastewater district to find out what state rules apply to you.

Finally, you might find the city or district you’re in requires it, too. In Carson City, Nevada, industries like commercial laundromats, food producers/restaurants, hotels with dining facilities, mortuaries, and wholesale bakeries have to reduce the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids they send to a wastewater treatment plant. If they don’t meet the local requirements, they can pay huge fines.

Help Protect the Environment

July brought flooding rains to some areas of Vermont, and several wastewater treatment plants were either destroyed or had to reduce operations and release raw sewage directly to the rivers their facilities connect to. 

If you’re clarifying wastewater before it leaves your industrial facility, you help protect the environment. It can be tremendously beneficial to the community and bodies of water in the area if the water reaching the facility is already pretreated. You do a lot to help protect the environment in case of raw sewage releases.

Create Less Hassle Within Your District

People are going to be upset if they find they’re paying higher rates for a system that’s being overwhelmed by industrial wastewater. When you add clarifying equipment and treat the wastewater leaving your facility, you’re less likely to frustrate and even anger people in your wastewater district or the workers at the local treatment plant.

You’re not overwhelming the system and creating a strain on equipment that’s getting older. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

Heighten Worker Safety

Depending on your industrial facility, you could be releasing some hazardous liquids that can impact your wastewater treatment plant’s workers. If you have a meat processing facility, your wastewater likely contains high levels of E. coli, salmonella, or other foodborne illnesses. The workers are at a higher risk. When you clarify your industrial wastewater first, you take the initial step to help keep them safe.

Reduce Your Potential Costs

When you treat wastewater before releasing it to a sewer or body of water, you could be charged steep fines if there are any contaminants in that water. A California company was fined almost $5 million for releasing untreated wastewater into a public wastewater treatment plant without being permitted to do so. They were releasing almost 250,000 gallons taking up almost 40% of the wastewater treatment plant’s capacity.

If you’re not approved to release wastewater to the local facility and aren’t meeting regulations regarding clarification or pre-treatment, you could end up paying millions of dollars, which could bankrupt you.

Improve Your Company or Brand’s Image

Your brand’s image can take a hit if you’re not clarifying your industrial wastewater. Bad press can destroy a business’s reputation. While adding an industrial wastewater system does cost money, it can pay off when it comes to how the public feels about your business.

As an example, breweries often send a lot of wastewater to local wastewater treatment plants every day. Organic materials and grains that are in a brewery’s wastewater are hard to treat. When an abundance of brewery wastewater comes in and needs extra time to treat, it takes up room from others in the municipality. It becomes frustrating to area residents and wastewater treatment plant operators

When a brewery looks for grants and other financing options to add its own clarification equipment, it can do a lot for its reputation. Plus, the grains that are filtered out can become feed for cattle and livestock and the organic matter can be used as fertilizer. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wastewater Clarifier

Before you invest in an industrial wastewater clarifier, make sure you purchase the best wastewater treatment equipment for your needs. Your budget will play a major role in what you eventually purchase, but there are several other things to keep in mind.

The Different Types of Clarifiers

There are different types of clarifiers. With some, the wastewater enters on the side at the top and travels downward with a whirlpool type of flow. Others enter the center. It helps to learn a little more about these popular options to understand what they can do and how they work.


Wastewater comes into the outer perimeter of the clarifier tank at the top and travels along a raceway that’s positioned between the outer wall and skirt. Water spirals down the skirt to the main area where settling occurs. Suspended solids are then caught in a sludge blanket for removal through the central hopper.

A peripheral-feed spiral clarifier like the Spiraflo often performs up to 4x better than a center-feed clarifier.


Like the Spiraflo, the Spiravac has wastewater entering from a pipe at the top of the raceway and spiraling down to the settling area at the bottom. Sludge is then removed through Controlled Removal using separate sludge removal pipes that lead to a sludge well or Direct Removal using a header pipe that uses a rotating manifold to discharge the sludge.

In addition to those two popular wastewater clarifiers, full surface skimming is also recommended. There are full-surface ducking skimmers that cost less and have hinges that allow the skimmer to fit under a scum trough. A motorized full-surface skimmer has a drive that rotates the skimmer arm and a blade that pushes floating scum and FOG to a trough for removal.

Your Facility’s Available Space

How much space is available? If you don’t have a lot of space, you need to find a clarifier that takes up as little space as possible. A Spiraflo ranges in size from 8 feet in diameter to 130 feet, so it’s a good option if you need to stick within a certain amount of space.

The Maintenance Requirements

Finally, look for a clarifier that requires little maintenance. If you choose a system that has a lot of steps to keep it maintained, hire additional staff to ensure you have a team available for routine maintenance. 

Work With a Water Treatment Professional 

An industrial wastewater clarifier is a valuable asset for any facility, and it’s one you shouldn’t rush into purchasing without research and expert knowledge. You need a system that helps you save money, stay in compliance, keep people in your municipality happy, and reduce the strain on your area’s wastewater treatment plant. 

Ensure you get exactly what your plant needs by working with a water treatment expert. The team at Lakeside Equipment is highly knowledgeable in all aspects of water treatment, including clarifiers. Talk to our team to discuss your facility’s goals, the space you have, and your budget. We’ll help you find the best clarifier for industrial wastewater.

What to Look For When Choosing a Wastewater Clarifier

A wastewater clarifier is an important component in removing solids to start separating them from the water. It’s an important step when it comes to the first steps in removing sludge. The sludge goes to incinerators or landfills, while the liquids proceed to the next steps in wastewater treatment.

When wastewater comes into your facility, primary clarification is the first step. Suspended solids and FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) rise to the top of the water while sludge sinks. Those solids and sludge both need to be removed. Primary clarification usually removes around 60% of suspended solids, but this success rate depends on how effective your clarifier is.

Consider These Points When Choosing a Clarifier

How do you know which clarifier is right for your needs? It comes down to the wastewater you treat. If your plant takes a large percentage of hauled septage, you might have more solids than from a small town with a sewer. In a large city, you might end up with a lot of trash or dead animals that end up in the sewers. All of this is important to consider.

  • Flow Rate: How much wastewater comes into your plant each day? A city with 50,000 residents is going to have much slower flow rates than a city with a large industrial area and millions of residents. Your clarifier has to be able to handle the flow rate you experience.
  • Solids Loading: Solids loading is defined as the percentage of suspended solids in your wastewater. 
  • Sludge Characteristics: Sludge is a mix of solids, organic and inorganic materials, and liquids that sink to the bottom of chambers in the wastewater treatment process. If you have thicker sludge, one clarifier might work better than another option.
  • Budget: Your budget is important when choosing a clarifier. If you can’t afford the equipment without drastically increasing your municipality’s rates, it’s going to be a tough sell to the people in your community. You have to stick to the budget you have and avoid going too much over it.
  • Available Space: What space do you have available? Make sure the equipment you want to purchase will fit the space. Otherwise, you may need to expand or figure out another option.
  • Maintenance Needs: Do you have a full-time maintenance crew devoted to going from one part of your facility to the next? If they are already struggling to keep up, a high-maintenance machine is going to add to their problems. You need to make sure the equipment is easy to maintain and won’t require additional staffing if there’s no budget or time to train new workers.

What Are the Different Types of Clarifiers?

Every wastewater treatment equipment and process solutions specialist has preferred clarification equipment. These are the options that are out there.

  • Dissolved Air Floatation Clarifiers: Dissolved air floatation (DAF) or Lamella clarifiers use air to remove suspended matter from the surface of treated wastewater. It’s best for wastewater that has a high level of FOG and suspended solids. 
  • Membrane Filtration: Membrane filtration, such as ultrafiltration clarifiers rely on hydrostatic pressure to push wastewater liquid against a semi-permeable membrane. That membrane collects the suspended solids.
  • Sludge Blanket Clarifiers: Sludge blanket clarifiers work by having water flow upward through a sludge blanket that traps the sludge and pushes the clarified water to the top of the tank. 
  • Rectangular or Circular Clarifiers: This is an important decision when it comes to space. This has less to do with the function of the clarifier than it does with the shape and size. Rectangular clarifiers are smaller and take less space, often no more than 10 feet in length and no more than 20 feet deep. Circular clarifiers are larger and handle more liquids. Expect circular clarifiers to range in size from 10 to 300 feet upwards of 16 feet deep.

Work With an Expert in Wastewater Treatment to Get the Best Clarifier

Lakeside Equipment has been helping cities and towns have cleaner water for close to 100 years. We offer three clarifiers that are certain to do everything you need and even better than you might imagine. They’re essential components for cleaning industrial wastewater, potable water treatment, and wastewater treatment.

Full-Surface Skimming:

Full-surface skimming is a peripheral-feed system where floating materials are caught in the clarifier’s outer skirt and main settling area. This is an effective way to remove scum and floating materials, but it may not do as much as sludge that sinks. The ducking skimmer is a good choice for low-budget wastewater facilities.

There are two types of full-surface skimmers to help with clarifying: a  Full-Surface Ducking System or a Motorized Full-Surface Skimmer. 

The Full-Surface Ducking System is affordable and uses scraper arms to remove floating materials to a scum trough. A Motorized Full-Surface Skimmer covers the entire width of the clarifier surface and uses a motor to rotate the arm while pushing floating materials to a rotating scum trough.

Spiraflo Clarifier: 

The Spiraflo is a peripheral feed clarifier used to remove suspended solids in a primary, secondary, or tertiary clarification system. Wastewater enters the outer ring where it travels in a ring formed by an outer wall and skirt. The spiral flow travels towards a settling area where clarified water is forced upward to a weir while solids remain in a sludge blanket. 

Key benefit: Tests prove that peripheral-feed spiral clarifiers perform 2x to 4x better than center-feed clarifiers.

Spiravac Clarifier:

The Spiravac is a peripheral feed clarifier for the best possible solids removal through the use of suction to rapidly return active sludge to the beginning of the process. Wastewater enters a channel formed by an outer wall and skirt. Sludge is directed to the center of the tank where it is removed using suction and sludge removal pipes or a rotating manifold located in the center. While this happens, the clarified water rises and goes into a weir to go to the next steps in wastewater treatment.

Key Benefits: Workers can control the flow of sludge that’s been removed, and the process takes place faster than with other clarifiers.

Which is best for your needs? It depends on your current system’s design and footprint. If you’re short on space, you may need a system that fits a smaller area. Work with Lakeside Equipment to figure out the best clarifier for your wastewater treatment plant.

Our team of salespeople and engineers work with you to ensure your water treatment system does everything you want in the most affordable way possible. After your system is installed our parts and service team are there to help you keep your system working perfectly through the years. Reach out to us to learn more about our clarifiers and how they’ll help you get cleaner water.


Developing an Efficient and Reliable Wastewater Process in Your Factory

Running a wastewater treatment plant is a multi-faceted process. The safety manager has to focus on workers’ safety, while the energy manager has to consider how much energy is being consumed. You have production teams working on proper treatment measures at the rates people and businesses need. There are also maintenance workers that have to keep everything running smoothly and avoid downtime.

Every wastewater treatment plant manager needs to think of ways for the municipality’s plant to be efficient and reliable. This is key to lowering energy consumption and avoiding costly fines caused by raw sewage release. How do you develop an efficient, reliable wastewater treatment process? 

Start by Answering a Few Questions

Before you do anything, you need to address what your wastewater treatment process needs to achieve. Are you in an industrial area where a lot of your wastewater comes from businesses? Are those companies required to pre-treat wastewater before it reaches your facility? 

If you’re in a heavily residential area, toilets, washing machines, showers, and dishwashers or hand-washed dishwater is the bulk of what you’d be cleaning. Most facilities treat water from both of these. You may also have a high percentage of trucked-in septage that’s pumped from homes, and those homes may only have tanks pumped every few years, so there may be more solids than usual.

Once you know what wastewater is generated, how much will you get on an average day? When do you find flow rates increase and when is the flow much slower? What are the regulations in your area? To get approval from the EPA, you’ll have to clean the water as required by the EPA. The equipment and plant design you choose needs to be able to meet these requirements.

Most wastewater treatment plants will be looking at a hauled waste receptacle, screens and trash rakes, a grit removal system, clarifiers, and biological treatment. If you need a small wastewater treatment system for your factory, a Raptor Complete Plant doesn’t need a lot of space and does everything you need. Otherwise, you’ll want to look at individual components. 

Cut Energy Costs Without Sacrificing Treatment Speeds

In a wastewater treatment facility, aerators consume the most energy and pumps are close being. Upgrade to more efficient equipment to cut costs. You should also use systems that scale up and down as flow rates increase and decrease. 

It’s also worthwhile to look into equipment that can take the methane produced in wastewater treatment and convert it to fuel you can use to heat or power your plant. You may still use a lot of energy when running your plant, but you will slash your heating bills in cold weather and electricity bills year-round.

Aim for Easy-to-Maintain Equipment 

When equipment is above the water, you don’t have to drain tanks and ponds down before repairs or maintenance takes place. Motors with sealed bearing assemblies that lubricate themselves reduce maintenance needs. 

Another consideration is to get pumps that can clean impellers by shifting from minimum to maximum speeds. That can save a lot of time with maintenance demands.

Invest in Automated Process Controls

SCADA is important for monitoring all of the processes in your plant. What is SCADA? It stands for Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition. It’s a computer system that collects and analyzes real-time data from the equipment in your wastewater treatment system to alert you to potential issues. It’s a must-have technology for efficiency and troubleshooting.

Add Sharp BNR to SCADA and monitor processes and quickly adjust aeration to maximize your plant’s efficiency. You can add other technology like Variable Frequency Drives and motor starters for an all-in-one system that practically runs itself. 

That can help keep workers from needing to be at the plant 24/7. If there are issues, you can check remotely and make adjustments or decide if making the drive is necessary.

Slash Costs on Screenings by Having a Wash Press

The first stage of a wastewater treatment process is to screen materials like rags, plastic, and other litter that shouldn’t get flushed but often does. Those materials are caught on screens and removed to landfills. These organic materials are heavy and carry fecal material that will smell and can drive up disposal costs at an area landfill. The less you have to dispose of, the better it is.

A Raptor Wash Press screens this organic material, but it washes and dewaters it. Less water means lighter materials, which makes it easier to dispose of in a landfill. This equipment is capable of reducing screenings by half and weight by as much as 67%.

In addition, more of the water in your wastewater continues into the next steps in wastewater treatment. Eventually, more water is being returned to the community, which is especially helpful in areas where droughts are impacting water levels.

Have Extra Storage Tanks for Overflow Situations

If there is a problem, extra storage keeps your workers from having to release raw sewage. The excess wastewater can sit in tanks until the rest of the system is caught up. While you can ask residents to conserve water and avoid flushing toilets and limit showers each week, there are no guarantees they will. Storage is important.

Think Ahead and Be Prepared for Emergency Situations

Several cities in Vermont were hit by a historically heavy rainfall that flooded several wastewater treatment plants. The flood was only part of the problem. Power outages knocked systems offline, which meant wastewater wasn’t getting treated. More than a week later, towns and cities like Barre, Barton, Bridgewater, Hardwick, Johnson, Ludlow, Montpelier, and a handful of others are still not able to process at full capacity. Some of the workers are sleeping at the plant to keep up with changing flow rates.

No one expected upwards of ten inches of rain in one day, and days of more and more rain and thunderstorms are hampering efforts to get back to normal. With climate change and climate phenomena like El Nino, what can you do to make sure your wastewater facility runs efficiently and reliably at all times? You can’t predict the future, but you can take measures to plan ahead for changing weather patterns that your plant is ready for.

If your plant is relying solely on electricity and will suffer in an outage, consider having a backup power source like solar or wind. A backup generator is worth considering if solar and wind are not options. 

Work With a Wastewater Treatment Expert

Lakeside Equipment brings close to 100 years of expertise in the water treatment industry. The sales team and engineers listen to your needs and concerns and help you develop the best ways to develop an efficient, reliable wastewater process. We’re happy to answer questions and give our expert input on how to improve your wastewater treatment plant’s equipment and processes at the budget you need to stick to.

Understanding the Role of Filtration Systems in Effective Water Treatment

Did you catch the recent news about how the massive draws of water by agriculture, homes, and businesses have shifted the earth’s axis a tiny amount to the east? It’s not a huge shift – only about 1.7 inches per year – but it’s enough that it could play a role in climate change and the global sea level rise.

Many districts have water treatment plants and clean water that’s drawn from rivers, lakes, or ponds. In some areas where water sources have been running water reuse is essential. That means treating wastewater, pumping that cleaned wastewater to water treatment plants, and preparing that water for people to use. For this to work, filtration systems are a key component in making sure contaminants are removed. 

The basics of water treatment are:

  1. Coagulation – Chemicals like iron or salts are mixed into the water. They have a positive charge. Meanwhile, contaminants like dirt have a negative charge. The opposite charges attract and cause them to bind. 
  2. Flocculation – The water is mixed so that heavier particles form. Additional chemicals may be added to get the particle clumps known as flocs to get as large as possible.
  3. Sedimentation – The water is now allowed to settle. The larger flocs sink and can be removed from tanks. The rest of the water goes to filtration.
  4. Filtration – The treated water is pumped or travels via gravity or centrifugation through some kind of filtration system to remove bacteria, chemicals, parasites, viruses, and any other particles.  Contaminants like cryptosporidium E. coli, giardia, and legionella can be found in groundwater and surface water due to animal and human waste and can make humans sick if they’re not filtered and exposed to a disinfectant.
  5. Disinfection – Water is treated with a chemical disinfectant such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or chloramines to kill any remaining bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Some water treatment plants use UV lights and ozone, but chlorine is often preferred as it can also kill the germs that build up in pipes around the water treatment plant. Once the water is treated, it’s often allowed time to sit to ensure chemical disinfectant levels meet the EPA guidelines before the water goes to homes and businesses.

The Types of Filtration Systems and Their Role in Treating Water

What are the different types of filters used in water treatment? Several options are good for adsorption, meaning they capture and hold contaminants, and only clean water is allowed through the filter. Most plants use one of these filtration options: 

  1. Activated Charcoal:

Activated carbon filters are good for removing odors from water. They also capture particles and germs. Water treatment plants tend to use granular activated carbon as it’s able to adsorb a variety of contaminants, including some pharmaceuticals. When activated carbon needs to be replaced, it’s also compostable, which makes it an environmentally-friendly option. 

This is also likely to be a form of water treatment that will be familiar to you. It’s the charcoal material found in many fish filters, pet water fountains, and pitcher filter systems like Brita or Pur. If you have a refrigerator with filtered water, you likely have an activated carbon filter doing the work.

  1. Coconut Fiber Filters:

Some water treatment plants have tested out coconut fiber filters. Created from the fibers of a coconut shell, these filters are great for absorbing contaminants. Plus, it gives the coconut shell fibers a second use after the coconut meat is removed for the food industry.

Coconut fibers don’t break down as easily. While an activated carbon filter usually requires some time to clear out the carbon dust, you don’t run into that with coconut fibers. It’s worth a closer look if it’s an option in your area.

  1. Microfiltration:

Microfiltration is one option that can be used in a water treatment plant. It’s good for removing bacteria and suspended solids, but it’s not as good for removing viruses and salts. If it’s used, it’s usually a pre-treatment step.

  1. Nanofiltration:

Nanofiltration is more energy-efficient than reverse osmosis and is more likely to be used when converting treated wastewater to clean water for residential and business use. The process is similar to reverse osmosis, but it uses lower pressure. It’s also not as effective as reverse osmosis and removes about 90% of salts and almost all of the bacteria, organic matter, and viruses in water. It’s better at removing contaminants than either microfiltration or ultrafiltration.

  1. Reverse Osmosis:

Reverse osmosis requires a filter and is one of the best ways to get contaminants out of water. Water is pushed through a semipermeable membrane to remove viruses, bacteria, organics, dissolved salts, and other particles. It’s only 99% effective, but chemical or UV treatments kill off anything that remains. 

  1. Sand:

There are two types of sand filtration. Slow sand filtration has the water travel through a funnel of sand where bacteria have colonized on the surface of the sand. As the water slowly passes through the bacteria layer known as biofilm, the microbes digest any contaminants. Anything that slips by is caught in the sand. It’s a slow process and requires a lot of space. 

Because slow filtration is a time-consuming process, rapid sand filtration is often preferred. The sand filters have higher flow rates and don’t require as much space, but the sand filters do have to be back-washed regularly.

  1. Ultrafiltration:

We’ve talked about microfiltration and nanofiltration. Ultrafiltration falls between the two in terms of what it can and cannot remove. It’s not good for removing salts, but it’s fantastic at removing bacteria and viruses.

With ultrafiltration, water is pushed through a filter with pores as small as five nanometers at low pressure. The tiny pores capture viruses, organic material, and other contaminants. Filters are back-washed with chemicals from time to time. Typically, ultrafiltration occurs as a pre-treatment step before reverse osmosis.

Which System Is Best?

Which is best? It’s hard to answer that without having a list of the contaminants that are most prevalent in your area.

When it comes to filtration systems, the type you use will vary depending on the contaminants that affect your district’s water. If you have higher levels of E. coli due to a number of area farms, you’ll likely need a different filtration system than a water treatment plant in a city where there are many industrial plants. Working with an expert in water treatment filtration ensures you have the right system.

Continuing research will help make water treatment processes even better. As water treatment plants look for better ways to filter newer contaminants like PCBs and forever chemicals, hopes are to make water cleaner, faster. 

Stay up to date on the latest water treatment advancements by working with an expert in clean water. Lakeside Equipment is nearing a century in water treatment equipment and technologies for your water treatment and wastewater treatment plant. Give us a call or reach us online to learn more about the best water treatment filtration options.

The Advantage of Customized Water Treatment Solutions for Industrial Applications

Water plays a key role in your industry, but you can’t just release that water to a municipal water treatment plant or a nearby river or lake. It contains contaminants that cause environmental damage and make the work the municipal wastewater treatment plant does a lot harder. 

There’s another aspect to consider. The work you do requires the purest possible water for the foods, beverages, or medications you make. If there are any contaminants in the water coming into your plant, it could become a health hazard or reduce the quality of your product. That’s another concern many industries face.

Industrial wastewater and water treatment solutions are never one-size-fits-all. The wastewater treatment solutions for a brewery are going to be less useful to a plastics extrusion company. The solutions for that plastics extrusion company will not be helpful to a poultry processing plant.  A baby formula or pharmaceutical industry will have both aspects to consider.

A standard water treatment system isn’t always going to work for your needs and can end up being a waste of money. Customized wastewater treatment solutions are advantageous for several reasons. Learn more about why your business needs to work on a water treatment system that matches the work you do.

Four  Advantages of Customized Industrial Water Treatment Solutions

There are four key advantages to customized water treatment solutions that industries experience when making upgrades. Check them out.

Solutions Are Customized to Your Business’s Specific Needs

When a water treatment system is designed for you, it’s customized to your exact needs. If your plant makes baby formula and baby formula powder, the water you use needs to be ultra-filtered and boiled to ensure any bacteria is killed and filtered away. However, a company that makes water-based paints may not need to be as stringent.

It’s More Efficient and Effective

Customized solutions are also more effective. If mineral build-up could clog your equipment, you need a water treatment system that takes care of this issue. The amount of calcium in municipal water may be acceptable, but it’s not acceptable for your needs. Customized treatment systems make sure the water you use is appropriate for your industrial processes.

This also makes your company’s processes more efficient. You don’t have to take pre-treatment steps before the water you draw from the city is usable.

Customized Solutions Help You Save Money

Going back to the efficiency that customized water treatment solutions offer, this saves money. You’re using less energy during the different steps your workers follow.

Suppose you don’t use water that’s been specially treated for your industrial plant. You end up with a run of wasted product due to unexpected contaminants in the city’s water due to an unexpected broken main that allowed groundwater and soil into the water line. With a water treatment plant in your company, you’re cleaning water to your needs. As long as you keep your plant maintained and test water quality frequently, you’ll know the quality is fine.

The other aspect is if you install a customized industrial wastewater treatment plant before you release the water to the sewers.  If you release high quantities of PCBs, chemicals, or fats, oil, and grease (FOG) to the sewers, the wastewater treatment plant that receives the sewer water has to work harder to get the water clean. 

This drives up costs for the municipality’s customers. They’re not going to be happy to watch their costs soar because of your company. You could end up facing costly fines or lawsuits. Take preventative measures and keep your costs down.

It Helps the Environment

When you clean and reuse your industry’s water or clean it and release it to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, you’re helping keep dangerous chemicals from the area’s water. It keeps chemicals from making their way into rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the ocean.

Explore Examples Demonstrating the Advantages of Customized Water Treatment Solutions

Explore several examples that demonstrate how a customized water treatment solution helped different companies save money, improve quality, and become more efficient.

# 1 – Pepsi’s Solution to High Sugar Levels in Wastewater

Pepsi realized the importance of lowering its plant’s carbon footprint and needed to find a way to dispose of expired or poor-quality products. To do this, the company planned to clean the wastewater it generated, but it didn’t have room for a full-size wastewater treatment plant.  

They partnered with wastewater treatment experts to get a smaller system that uses anaerobic bacteria treatments to break down the sugar.  But, those bacteria also generate electricity in the process. The result is that upwards of 85% of the sugar in their wastewater is removed in just one shift. The company lowered the amount of high-sugar wastewater being sent to the district.

#2 – Microsoft 

Microsoft realized they were using too much water. They decided to collect rainwater across their campus and install a water treatment plant in their facility. The goal is to no longer rely on public water at all by 2030.

The rainwater is treated and used in their cooling towers, bathrooms, and landscaping needs. The water from flushed toilets and sinks is recaptured and treated in a continual cycle. Plus, they added watersheds or measures to protect watersheds in their different locations to help put more water back in streams, rivers, and lakes.

#3 – Semiconductor Plants and Chip Manufacturers

Several companies that fabricate chips and semiconductors needed to make big changes. A large chip fab can use as much as 10 million gallons each day. That’s an incredible waste of water in regions where water is running low. 

Taiwan was one of the first countries to experience the importance of water recycling. A severe drought could have ended operations from some of the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturing plants. To end this problem, they invest in water treatment plants. These plants clean the water to a level it is suitable for reuse to make more chips or semiconductors. 

#4 – The Clothing Industry

In Asia, three rivers in Dhaka were killed by the industrial dyes used in the fabrics used to make clothing. The World Bank identified more than five dozen dangerous chemicals that were in these rivers. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 has raised awareness of this issue and measures are underway to clean the chemicals from the wastewater and make it possible for the factories to reuse the treated water.

Partner With an Expert in Clean Water

You can’t just buy water treatment equipment and put together a system you think will do what it needs. You need to have an expert in water treatment to help you plan the best path forward.

Save money, have higher quality products, and lessen the burden on your municipality’s wastewater treatment plant with customized water treatment solutions. Lakeside Equipment is backed by close to a century of water treatment solutions and advancements. We can help you find high-quality solutions that do everything you need and more, at a price point that matches your budget. 

Arrange a consultation with Lakeside Equipment’s water treatment specialists. Our engineers, field technicians, and support personnel are by your side every step of the way. Reach Lakeside Equipment online or by phone.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Wastewater Treatment Plant

The U.S. has close to 14,750 wastewater treatment plans, and they process the wastewater of residential and business wastewater that comes in from sewer lines, but approximately 20% of homes and businesses in the U.S. have septic systems that treat some wastewater within the system and the leach field. Every few years or even sooner, trucks pump out the septic tanks and haul the septage to a wastewater treatment facility.

The EPA estimates that wastewater treatment facilities process around 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. This is an expensive endeavor when it comes to the cost of repairs, upgrades, and most importantly energy consumption. An estimated $2 billion a year is spent on electricity alone, with as much as 40% of a wastewater treatment plant’s operation budget covering that facility’s electricity bills.

Across the nation, wastewater treatment facilities are setting goals to reduce their energy consumption while ensuring water meets the rigid standards required before the wastewater goes to oceans, ponds, rivers, streams, or water treatment plants for reuse. What are the best methods of reducing energy consumption?

Conduct an Energy Audit

An energy audit is the best step to take to identify areas where you can improve your plant’s efficiency. The EPA Office of Wastewater Management has a self-assessment tool to help you get started. The goals of an assessment are to reduce your energy consumption, reduce your operating costs, reduce water loss, reduce your facility’s carbon footprint, and improve the water infrastructure.

ENERGY STAR also offers energy-saving tips and guidance through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. If your plant has room for improvement, you’ll get information on what efficiency improvements are going to help and learn more about how to prioritize the improvements. If your plant is efficient enough, you can save as much as 30% in a short time. Many facilities see improvements in just a few months.

Area electricity companies also frequently offer energy audits. You can ask your power company if they have any free energy audits available right now or coming up in the future.

Upgrade Older, Less Efficient Equipment

As you go through an energy audit, you learn what equipment is wasting the most energy. You can work with an expert in water treatment equipment to determine what equipment can help you save money and improve your water treatment process. What equipment should you consider?

A good rule of thumb is to look at the age of all of your equipment. Older pumps and motors are going to use more energy. Once you’ve come up with a chart of this information, consider which machines are down for repairs the most. You need to prioritize those. Here are the items that you should consider first.

  1. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps recover the heat generated during the wastewater treatment cycle and use that heat to preheat water sent to boilers where it requires less energy to heat enough for a heating system or hot water usage. Heat pumps can also help cool your building in hot weather.

  1. Variable Speed Drives

Variable speed drives are available on a lot of wastewater treatment equipment. If you have equipment that is just on or off with no change of speed throughout the day, it’s time to change that.

Your district’s wastewater flow rates increase when people come home from work, have dinner, and do the dishes. They’ve been out of the house all day, so it’s been relatively quiet. But, now that they’re using water for meals and cleaning up, doing the laundry, and taking baths or showers before bed, water usage increases, and that means water is coming into your plant faster.

Variable speed drives adjust for these increases. If water isn’t flowing in very quickly from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., drives could turn off until they’re needed for higher flow rates in the morning rush to get ready for work or school. They turn off again in the late mornings and afternoons when people are not home. That saves energy and wear and tear on your pumps and other motors.

You’ll also find variable speed drives on a screw pump. These pump liquid from one area to another without easily clogging. Open screw pumps can be up to 75% more efficient while operating and also require less maintenance, which also helps slash your bills. Type C enclosed screw pumps are up to 10% more efficient than open screw pumps.

  1. Submersible Mixers

A submersible mixer stirs up the wastewater in an anaerobic tank while reducing energy consumption. A stainless-steel propeller delivers high flow rates without needing extra electricity to run the motor.

  1. LED Lighting

If your plant has older fluorescent lighting, that type of lighting uses far more energy than efficient LED lighting. Switch to LED, which can be up to 90% more efficient, and see savings on your next bill. The switch to LED won’t cost a lot of money, and some power companies offer rebates and other incentives to help you make the switch.

In addition to LED lighting, consider adding motion sensors that detect when someone has left a room. This way, if a worker forgets to turn off the lights, it won’t matter. The lights will turn off automatically when there’s no movement in the room.

Tap Into Renewable Energy

If your plant isn’t using solar and wind power to help generate electricity, it’s time to consider making a change. There are many programs out there to help you embrace solar, wind, and even geothermal energy for less money.

For outdoor security lights, install solar lights. They have a separate panel that powers the lights by day and runs them all night. They’re helpful as you can install them anywhere and don’t need outlets or a power source nearby.

As your renewable energy system works, you’ll find your savings end up recouping the amount you spent on the system. From there, you gain pure savings that you can reinvest in additional upgrades or use to lower rates for the members in your district. 

Talk to an Expert in Water Treatment 

You’ll find there are many ways to improve your wastewater treatment plant’s energy efficiency, but it takes research and careful planning to make the best choices for your municipality. Work with experts in water treatment. 

Lakeside Equipment has close to 100 years in the water treatment industry. Our dedicated team of sales professionals, engineers, and technicians are here to meet your needs and complete all aspects of your plant’s upgrades from planning to on-site installation. We can even get the parts you need and ship them immediately.

When your wastewater treatment equipment is efficient and repaired quickly, it keeps your bills low while making sure the environment and community are protected from improperly treated wastewater. Learn more about the upgrades you should make to boost your plant’s efficiency.

The Top Challenges Facing Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants Today

Initial wastewater treatment options in the U.S. involved the use of cesspools or septic tanks with tile drainage, but this was only so helpful as populations increased and cholera epidemics became an issue in cities like Saint Louis, Missouri. By the 1850s, Chicago, Illinois, and Brooklyn, New York, would become the first two cities with official sewer systems. 

In those cities, large pipes collected household wastewater, industrial wastewater, and stormwater runoff to plants where waste was filtered through filters (usually sand) before allowing it to proceed to rivers and lakes. Worcester, Massachusetts, was the first city to use chemicals to treat the wastewater, and it took around 40 years to get to that point.

Over 125 years later, municipal wastewater treatment plants are vital to our lives, yet many plants face incredible challenges. On average, a plant’s lifespan is no more than 50 years. What are the top challenges facing today’s wastewater treatment plants?

Climate Change

Climate change may not impact all wastewater treatment plants, but it can impact some. One of the leading issues is in any district that’s still using a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). CSOs are starting to decrease in number, but until a city has the finances to enact the change, flooding can create massive issues with excess stormwater flooding a plant and forcing operators to release raw sewage into the area’s lakes, streams, and rivers.

Another problem is heavy rain that causes flooding that gets into your wastewater treatment plant. Most districts build plants on hillsides or away from shores or river banks. They’re in areas where flooding will not impact the plant, but It’s not always possible. If your plant is in floodwaters, it’s going to wreak havoc on the environment by causing untreated wastewater to mix with flood waters and impact rivers, streams, lakes, and the ground surrounding your plant.


Like it or not, the risk of hackers getting into your wastewater district’s systems cannot be ignored. You need equipment that is safeguarded by secure protocols and prevents dangerous cyberattacks. In 2021, three water treatment plants in the U.S. faced ransomware attacks, but manual controls prevented any major issues. Make sure your plant is equipped with security and options where you can manually control equipment if necessary.


Financial constraints are another factor that can impact your district’s wastewater treatment plant. If you’re not getting grants from government agencies and experiencing increased energy bills and maintenance costs from the use of older equipment, your bills increase. Your options are to increase rates, but you’re going to anger the people in your district. Federal rate increases are impacting their lives, too.

Finding ways to save money is important. As you can, upgrade equipment to lower the amount of downtime and maintenance. Upgraded equipment works faster and can be automated to monitor increases as people get home and do the laundry and cook meals or shower and get ready for work or school. It also can shut motors off as needed during slower periods when people sleep.

Increasing Operating Costs

Electricity costs in the U.S. went up from an average of 8.45 cents to 8.6 cents (per kilowatt-hour) for the industrial sector. This may not seem too alarming until you think about how much electricity is used 24/7 at a wastewater treatment plant. It’s estimated that the bubble diffusers that are necessary for aeration can use anywhere from 30,000 kWh to 50,000 kWh per day. The more efficient your wastewater treatment equipment is, the more money you save.

Growing Populations

In the 2021 Report for America’s Infrastructure, it was reported that 15% of the nation’s wastewater treatment plants are over their plant’s maximum capacity. One more home on an already overwhelmed plant can be catastrophic. In addition, 81% of the nation’s plants are at capacity. At that point, it was going to take more than $3 billion to replace the nation’s sewer lines, which was almost $20 per customer. 

That’s just necessary pipeline upgrades. There are also issues with outdated equipment and the high cost of maintenance that is eating up district budgets. It’s estimated that there is an $81 million infrastructure gap that’s making it hard for wastewater treatment plants to make necessary upgrades.

Cities and towns in a wastewater district have to carefully weigh how many new homes are built, but it’s hard to control some aspects like how many people are living in a new home without catching people off guard and demanding to do a headcount, which isn’t going to be welcomed.

There are state and local codes that determine how many people can live in a unit. These codes are in place to prevent strain on the infrastructure. A general rule is no more than two people per bedroom. In a three-bedroom home, there shouldn’t be more than six full-time residents. Leaving some room for population growth is important.

Newer Contaminants

Another leading problem wastewater treatment plants experience involves the newer contaminants that need to be removed from wastewater. Pharmaceuticals are one of them. 

Studies show that common medications like antidepressants are tough to remove from wastewater, and they do impact fish and other aquatic creatures. If a fish is contaminated with these medications, studies show it impacts their fertility. This could cause shortages of seafood in stores and in our diets.

PFAs are another newer contaminant that wastewater treatment plants need to address. Granulated activated carbon, high-pressure membrane, and ion exchange resin treatment processes can all help remove PFAs, which is something the EPA is starting to crack down on with Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15.

Outdated Equipment

Many wastewater treatment plants rely on outdated equipment. This equipment is less efficient and drives up energy bills and can decrease how quickly wastewater is cleaned and released. 

This can lead to increased energy costs, decreased treatment efficiency, and increased environmental impacts.

In the U.S. the average age of underground wastewater and drinking water pipes is 45 years. Some districts are working with pipes that are at least 100 years old. When districts struggle to replace pipes within their district, it’s not surprising that equipment is often decades old and failing before it’s replaced. 

Many of the nation’s wastewater treatment plants were built when the Clean Water Act of 1972 passed. If a plant hasn’t replaced equipment since 1972, the equipment is likely outdated and in need of urgent replacement.

It’s Time to Act

The challenges facing the nation’s wastewater treatment plants are significant, but President Biden’s American Jobs Plan has provided some necessary funding to get to work improving the nation’s infrastructure. Of the $111 billion for water infrastructure improvements, $56 billion in grants and low-interest loads are available for wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water systems.

Look into these grants and low-interest loans to address the biggest issues facing wastewater treatment plants. When you work with experts in water treatment, you’ll get expert guidance into the improvements you should make right now vs. months or years later.

Lakeside Equipment can talk to you about the upgrades you should make and how you should time them to ensure you are not creating a financial strain on your district’s customers. Talk to our wastewater treatment experts to discuss what your goals are and discover the best ways to enact these changes while sticking to your district’s budget.