How Much Does a Raw Water Treatment System Cost? (Pricing, Factors, Etc.)


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For industrial companies looking to purchase a raw water treatment system for their plant, one of the first things they want to know is, “How much does a raw water treatment system cost?” As you might have guessed, the answer to this question can be complex with several factors that go into choosing the right treatment options specific to the needs of the plant.

What’s included in a basic raw water treatment system?

A basic raw water treatment system typically includes some type of clarifier to settle out the larger solids, a chemical feed to help facilitate the flocculation or coagulation of any suspended solids, a specific variety of filtration to remove the smaller particles, and, depending on the level of automated operation needed, a control panel of sorts. Depending on the needs of the customer, these standard components are usually adequate, however, if your plant requires a system that provides a bit more customization, there might be some features or technologies you will need to add on.

The main factors of system cost

All in all, there are three main factors that drive the cost of a raw water treatment system:

  • Quality. What is the quality of your raw water source and what are the purity requirements of the treated water?
  • Quantity. What amount of water do you need to process per day and how fast? (This is your required peak gallons per minute, or GPM.)
  • Plant lifespan. How long will you need to run the system? Five years? Thirty?

If you can answer these questions, it will help you narrow down what your needs might be and provide a better sense of the budget you might be looking at.

Let’s break down these three main factors and consider how they might fluctuate your system price:

The quality of your water source and the equipment needed to treat it

One of the largest factors that will determine the cost of your raw water treatment system is the equipment that will go into the actual makeup of the system. Will you be using a municipal water source? Are you drawing from a well? Will you be sourcing from an ocean, river, or lake? The complexity of the makeup of your source water in relation to the desired quality of your treated water will determine a lot about the type of system you need.

For example, if a plant needs to treat dirty lake water with lots of algae to a level of purity fit for drinking, the system might require equipment that handles clarification to settle out the larger precipitates, chlorination to disinfect the water enough for drinking, and filtration to remove all the finer particles. At a rate of 100 GPM, you might be looking at $350,000 for equipment, depending on the details of the system you need and any extra added features.

Another example is an industrial plant that needs to feed their cooling water tower. The plant isn’t looking to have their source water treated for potability, but they need all the larger particles and suspended solids removed. A system like this might require a few durable strainers and a holding tank, and at 100 GPM, you might be spending around $50,000 for your raw water treatment system equipment.

Flow rates in relation to the capital cost of your system

In general, if your plant runs consistently at a lower flow rate, you’re usually looking at a lower capital cost for your raw water treatment system. If your plant generally runs a greater flow in a shorter amount of time, your capital cost is usually higher for equipment. Flow rates are always factored into the raw water treatment system cost, so be sure you measure this as efficiently as possible prior to requesting a quote in order to get an accurate cost estimate for your system.

The initial design and expected lifespan of your plant

Another thing to consider when you are looking to purchase a raw water treatment system is the useful life expectancy of your plant. Will the service life span five years? How about twenty or thirty? This is important to consider, as this will ensure the system is constructed with the right materials in mind. This can help reduce further costs and change-outs down the road.

For example, if you are a company who is purchasing a raw water treatment system for a temporary job, a system built with PVC and mobile skids might be a better option than something that is constructed permanently from sturdier materials and is meant to last you much longer. For a plant made with heartier materials, such as rubber-lined vessels and stainless steel piping, project costs will be higher initially, but the materials will outlast some of the wear and tear you might see with a system made from PVC. The lower-end PVC system might cost you around $100,000, again, depending on the specifics of the project and flow rate, whereas a higher-end system, built to last a bit longer, can run you up to $500,000 or more.

[Download our free raw water treatment system e-book.]

Other important factors to consider when pricing a raw water treatment system

  • Up-front planning. The first action you need to take when planning your raw water treatment system is developing the concepts, designs, and regulatory requirements for your project. The cost of engineering for this type of project can typically run 10–15% of the cost of the entire project. This cost is usually phased in over the course of the project, with most of your investment being allocated to the facility’s general arrangement, mechanical, electrical, and civil design.
  • Space requirements. When planning for a raw water treatment system, the size of your system will affect your cost. For example, if you have small space constraints, technologies that save space, such as an inclined plate clarifier instead of a conventional gravity settler, may be used.
  • Plant location and land acquisition. When you are installing your raw water treatment system, keep in mind that sometimes your plant location can affect the cost of your system. For example, if your plant is located in a place that is very expensive when it comes to space, you might want to aim for a smaller footprint.
  • Installation rates. Another thing to keep in mind is the installation rates in your area. These sometimes also fluctuate by location so be sure you’re aware of the cost to install the system and factor this into your budget. In areas where installation costs are high you may want to consider prepackaged modules versus build-in-place facilities.
  • Level of system automation needed. When it comes to the level of automation you need for your raw water treatment system, there are two options. The first is a higher level of automation where you won’t need an operator present for much of the time. This option is more costly up front (an initial investment in more sophisticated PLC controls and instrumentation), but the ongoing labor costs are less. The second option is a lower level of automation with less capital cost, but with added labor, this can end up costing you more in the long run. When it comes to deciding whether or not to invest in more costly controls, you need to consider what works for your company and staffing availabilities.
  • Turnkey and prepackaged systems. The larger your project is, the more it makes sense to build the system on-site, however, if you are able to, prepackaging your raw water treatment system will typically save you about three months in construction time at a about the same cost or less. A benefit to having your system prepackaged is that the production facilities and fabrication shops that assemble your system are, more often than not, highly knowledgeable about the type of system they are manufacturing. This results in a quick and efficient fabrication versus build-in-place facilities. Sometimes when you hire a field crew, there is a bit of a learning curve that can add extra time and/or cost to a project. SAMCO specializes in these types of turnkey, prepackaged systems, and for more information about what we offer, you can visit our website here. Installation costs will vary, but typically range between 15–40% of the project cost, depending on the specifics of prepackaging and amount of site civil work needed.
  • Shipping the system to your plant. When you are coordinating the shipping details of your raw water treatment system, you usually want to factor in about 5–10% of the cost of the equipment for freight. This can vary widely depending upon the time of year you are purchasing your system in addition to where your plant is located in relation to the manufacturing facility. When you are looking to purchase your system, check with your manufacturer to see if there is a facility where the system can be constructed closer to you, if not on-site.
  • Operation costs. Also keep in mind that particular technology packages cost a certain amount to purchase up front, but you need to also factor in system operating costs over time. For decisions like these, you need to weigh the pros and cons of initial versus long-term cost investment in addition to what works for your company and staff. You will likely want to look into having someone develop an operating cost analysis so your company can plan ahead for the operating cost over your raw water treatment plant’s life cycle. This might help you consider whether or not you want to spend more on your system initially or over time.
  • Other possible costs and fees. When purchasing a raw water treatment system, you might also want to keep in mind what other hidden costs and fees might be. For example: Will there be any taxes on the system or additional purchasing fees? What are your possible utility costs to the installation area? Will there be any environmental regulatory fees and/or permits? Any ongoing analytical compliance testing you need to pay for?

Try to be aware, as best as possible, of all these extra costs that you might need to factor into your budget. For example, does your area have any water source connection fees? Places with highly taxed water sources, such as California with their current drought, might charge a much higher connection fee than areas with abundant water sources. For more information about connection fees to your water source, check with local regulators. Many times the fee is based on the volume of water your plant requires and varies based on whether you are drawing your water from an open body of water, such as an ocean or lake, or from a well or municipal reserve. If municipal water is your source, chances are there will be a higher fee associated to your water usage, as the municipality will have to reserve a certain amount of water for you to be able to use. You might need to apply for a permit for this as well.

Also consider that there will be costs to treating the secondary waste produced by the system. With stringent environmental regulations, you will need to either treat the waste for discharge or solidify and transport to third party disposal firm. You can learn more about SAMCO’s wastewater treatment systems on our website here.

Also be sure to ask your system manufacturer about options that might be cheaper to install. They might be able to shed some light on the more installation-friendly systems with suggestions on how to keep your costs to a minimum.

The bottom line

Although there are several factors that go into raw water treatment system pricing, the bottom line is that if your plant has a flow rate of roughly 200 to 1,000 GPM, realistically you are looking at a $975,000 to $3,000,000 system when you factor in all the needed equipment, engineering, design, installation, and startup.

SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience custom-designing and manufacturing these types of systems, so please feel free to reach out to us with your questions. For more information or to get in touch, contact us here to set up a consultation with an engineer or request a quote. We can walk you through the steps for developing the proper solution and realistic life cycle cost for your raw water treatment system needs.

Some other articles about raw water treatment systems you might be interested in include:

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