Wastewater treatment systems offer a huge amount of variability with respect to their design, influent characteristics, operational characteristics, climate experienced, and effluent requirements. Like snowflakes, no two treatment facilities are the same. United-Tech takes this concept to heart and accordingly we do not offer generic treatment instructions found in small print on the label. That would be a recipe for disaster.
Instead we request in depth data about the operation of the facility so we can fully understand exactly what the facility is receiving, how well it is handling the influent, and what needs to be changed. This is true no matter what your facility size or complexity. We demand similar data from small one-lagoon, on-site, or pre-treatment systems on up to large-scale municipal Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs).
Sometimes, operators do not want to spend the time to gather or forward the necessary data. We do not play that game. If we cannot get the information necessary to properly characterize a system, we would rather walk away.
Why are we so insistent that we get the proper data?
There are three sets of discreet information needed to properly assess a project.
- The influent. We need to know what is coming in to the treatment facility. Flow rates, organic load, nutrient load, and the sources of contamination are all extremely important.
- The facility components. We need to know what equipment, tanks, lagoons, etc. are available to get the desired tasks accomplished. We need to know the size, depth, how many, in series or parallel, etc. This gives us an idea of how much time we have to work with the influent. We also need to know what type of containment we are working with. Are they aerobic, anaerobic, or anoxic systems? Do they have any stirring? How are they operated? What about solids buildup, odors, crusting, foaming?
- The effluent. We need to know what is currently coming out of the facility. What are the current effluent characteristics regarding organic and nutrient load?
Finally we need information regarding the goals of treatment. Sometimes we receive a simple “Improve Effluent” or “Reduce Sludge” or similar non-specific requests. But it is extremely important to learn exactly what is being desired by treatment. This has a lot of influence on the recommended treatment protocol offered. So instead of “Improve Effluent” we require something more specific like, “Reduce effluent BOD to meet permit requirements.” Instead of “Reduce Sludge” we want something like, “Reduce sludge buildup in settling pond from three feet to less than one foot”.
Another important set of data is the history of the system. How long have there been problems? Did they come on suddenly or did they slowly increase? Has anything changed in the influent parameters? Data like these help us fine-tune treatment protocols. For example, a lagoon that suddenly experiences sludge accumulation indicates a change in influent parameters, catastrophic upset, or changes in operational characteristics. This may indicate that a short-term solution is all that is needed. Recover the lagoon’s capacity and the project would be completed. A lagoon that has slowly filled with sludge over time would indicate that a long-term solution is probably needed often in two phases. The first to recover the lagoon and the second to maintain higher efficiency minimizing subsequent sludge buildup.