Not properly treating wastewater can potentially harm the environment, human health, and a facility’s process or products (especially if the wastewater is being reused). It can also cause a company to incur heavy fines and possible legal action if wastewater is being improperly discharged into a POTW (publicly owned treatment works) or to the environment (usually under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit). But how do you know if a facility really needs a wastewater treatment system?
The answer to this question can sometimes be a bit complex and depends on a variety of factors, but for industrial companies producing wastewater as a byproduct of their process, some type of wastewater treatment system is usually necessary.
We’ve simplified and broken down what you should know when deciding if a facility requires wastewater treatment:
What are the wastewater characterizations of the production facility?
One of the major factors that will determine whether or not a facility requires a wastewater treatment system is what the wastewater characteristics of the facility are, or what kind of contaminants are present.
Here are some important questions to address:
- Does the plant process foods that leave you with wastewater heavy in BOD, oils, and grease?
- Does the facility’s process include the manufacturing of metals that contaminates the wastewater with suspended solids and/or metals such as zinc, iron, lead, and nickel?
- Are there high levels of inorganic contaminants or need to remove BOD or COD (chemical oxygen demand)?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, chances are your facility requires some type of wastewater treatment system. The presence of these contaminants can be problematic in a variety of ways and discharge volume of these impurities is often regulated strictly, which brings us to the next question you’ll need to answer:
What are the regulatory requirements for discharge from the plant?
Regulations for your wastewater will vary depending on what your facility is doing with it. Three common scenarios include:
Releasing wastewater into the environment
If your facility plans to release your wastewater into the environment in the United States, you will need to do so under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES permit. These permits, enforced under the Clean Water Act, places limitations on what can be discharged, set requirements for reports and monitoring, and are put in place to ensure pollutants are not released in harmful amounts. Your local regulations and the contaminants present in your wastewater will determine if treatment is necessary for your facility and what that treatment will be. The EPA operates 10 different offices in the country that address different regions, so to make sure your facility is complying with local regulations, and be sure to check in with your local NPDES representatives. Failure to meet requirements by not treating your wastewater properly or at all could incur heavy fines.
Discharging wastewater into the local municipality
Your local municipality might take your effluent, but chances are they’ll want you to clean it first. Check with your local publicly owned treatment works (POTW) to be sure you’re meeting their qualifications. Your wastewater treatment will need to remove the contaminants they don’t allow or, again, it can cost you thousands of dollars in fines down the road. The facility’s wastewater treatment system will need to address and remove any contaminants present to acceptable levels that are required when discharging into the local POTW.
Reusing wastewater for your process
If you plan to reuse your wastewater for use in your production facility, such as for boiler feed or cooling tower water, then you’ll likely need to remove at least some of the contaminants. By doing so, you will avoid costly damage to your equipment and problematic issues such as organic growth, fouling, scaling, and corrosion. These can reduce plant productivity, cause plant downtime, and require costly equipment replacements down the road.
What are the results of a treatability study and/or pilot test?
A wastewater treatability study is a study or test that will determine how the wastewater can be treated for your process. If the study is done correctly, it will clearly identify the contaminants present in your wastewater stream, helping you decide if a system in necessary and ensuring the proper treatment solutions are considered and implemented in your wastewater treatment system. This streamlines the process and takes out any guesswork, ensuring your facility is considering the best possible solution for your unique situation.
Choosing whether or not to treat your wastewater is an important decision. Now that you know the most important aspects to focus on when making this choice, make sure you choose to work with an engineering company that can help you sort through all these requirements in order to choose the best solutions possible. Knowing the characterization of contaminants in your wastewater, local effluent regulations, and results of a thorough treatability study and pilot test will help steer you in the right direction.
SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience custom-designing and manufacturing wastewater treatment systems, so please feel free to reach out to us with your questions. For more information or to get in touch, contact us here. You can also visit our website to set up a call with an engineer or request a quote. We can walk you through the steps for developing the proper solution and realistic cost for your wastewater treatment system needs.
Some other articles about wastewater treatment systems you might be interested in include:
- What is a Wastewater Treatment System and How Does it Work?
- How to Choose the Best Wastewater Treatment System for Your Plant
- Seven Ways Your Facility Isn’t Meeting Effluent Regulations and How to Solve Them
- The Importance of Wastewater Treatment for Your Facility: Is it Necessary?
- 9 of the Best Industrial Wastewater Treatment Equipment Supply and Technology Companies
- What Is a Wastewater Treatability Study and How Does it Work?
- How Much Does a Water/Wastewater Treatability Study Cost for Your Plant?
- What Are the New Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines and What Do They Mean for Your Plant?
- How Much Does a Wastewater Treatment System Cost? (Pricing, Factors, Etc.)