Treated vs. Untreated Raw Water for Your Plant


Home 9 Raw Water Treatment 9 Treated vs. Untreated Raw Water for Your Plant

When it comes to deciding how to treat the raw water coming into your plant, here at SAMCO, we know it’s a complicated decision that can add cost to your bottom line—but is it necessary?

In this article, we explore whether or not it’s important to treat your raw water and consider what the consequences might be if you choose not to.

What is your water source?

The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not it’s important to treat your raw water is: What will your water source be?

In all cases, careful consideration should be used in looking at the source water and whether it’s best to either use the local municipally-fed, ground, or surface water, as they are all affected by different contaminants.

Sometimes it’s better to treat your own raw water from ground or surface sources or to buy it from a secondary source, such as a municipality, but either way, it’s important to evaluate the quality you’re going to get. If the municipal water source is going to give you poor quality water, and you have to treat it further to make it useful in your facility when you can get your own surface or ground water that’s a better quality, then make sure you’re weighing these options. The contaminants present in the source water in relation to what your water quality needs are will affect the outcome of your efforts.

What quality of water do you need?

The second thing to consider when deciding whether or not to treat your raw water source is:

  • What quality of water do you need for your plant? 
  • Does it need to be pure for drinking?
  • Ultrapure for microelectronics production?
  • Not so pure for domestic use such as flushing a toilet?

Once you’ve assessed which water source is best and have evaluated the quality of your chosen source, consider what technologies will be needed to treat the raw water for your facility to get your water quality where it needs to be for your process.

Why treat raw water for your plant?

So why treat your raw water, anyway?

Well, depending on your industry and what you need the raw water for, whether for drinking/domestic use or for your process and/or products, there are several answers to this question:

Processing water for drinking and domestic uses (drinking, toilets, showers, sinks, food prep, etc.)

Let’s first look at using raw water for domestic purposes as an example: whether you’re using a source such as a municipal source, or surface or groundwater, for drinking, the water needs to be a sufficient quality to meet human consumption needs. In addition to this, there are many regulatory requirements that need to be met in order to process water for drinking.

So what would happen if you didn’t treat your raw water and used it for human consumption? If you don’t treat your water and allow people to drink it, there’s a good chance people will get sick if there is bacteria in the water. It can also cause other longer-term health problems, and these issues can result in expensive lawsuits against you and your company, not to mention hefty fines for not meeting regulations in the first place.

Processing water for your boiler and/or cooling tower

Usually raw water for an industrial plant is feeding some sort of cooling tower and/or boiler, depending on your process needs and industry.

Feeding poor quality water to your cooling tower or boiler will cause all kinds of trouble in your plant, including fouling and scale formation, right down to repair and maintenance needs where your boiler or cooling tower will break down, your heat exchangers will scale and foul because of poor quality feed water. In addition to high maintenance fees, this can cause costly plant downtime, increase energy costs and reduce plant productivity.

The biggest problems are typically scale/minerals like hardness, bacteria, slime, and suspended solids in the water.

Carefully reviewing the boiler and cooling tower quality requirements from the manufacturer in addition to the quality of your existing feed water will help you understand to what degree you need to treat your raw water source and help you avoid many of these costly issues.

Processing water for your production needs

A more difficult evaluation is when water is used in production areas. Many companies manufacture water-based chemicals such as pharmaceutical liquids. Typically chemical production facility will formulate certain acids, caustics, and solvents, which all typically have some form of water base to them.

If the water going into these products isn’t treated, it can contaminate the quality of your company’s products, so care must be used in treating the water to a standard that will give you the quality of product you desire.

For production use, a lot of times you’re making a product that requires a certain quality or level of purity to meet your customers’ specifications. For example in electronics-grade chemicals, the water has to be extremely pure, and if you put a raw water into those chemical mixtures, your product can not be sold on the market. This also applies to the general chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, as well. For the pharmaceutical industry, water must meet certain regulatory requirements and using off-spec water can create serious regulatory issues.

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petrochemical facility at dusk

Why we recommend treating your raw water source

After weighing the potential consequences of not treating your raw water source—including health issues, the possibility of lawsuits, costly plant downtime, expensive maintenance fees, and not being allowed to sell your product in the marketplace, to name a few—it’s easy to see why we recommend that you do.

Not only do we recommend that you treat your raw water source for your process, but we strongly advise our customers to invest the time and cost it takes to thoroughly evaluate all the available options for their treatment to ensure it’s right for the plant and process. With a little extra effort, you can be sure that your treatment choices will give you the most efficient system possible for your needs, ensuring your business is able to thrive for years to come.

SAMCO has over 40 years of experience helping our customers evaluate their potential raw water sources and treatment needs, so if you have any questions, be sure to visit our website for more information about raw water treatment here. We also have an article you might be interested in about how much a raw water treatment system might cost you and who we recommend as qualified raw water treatment companies for you to consider as you search for all the options available for your plant.

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

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