How Does the Industry Make Wastewater Treatment Plants More Environmentally Friendly?

Designing and building a wastewater treatment plant is a complex process. Using traditional manual calculation methods, the design work can involve hundreds or even thousands of expensive engineering hours. As the world becomes more environmentally sensitive, it’s to be expected that plant owners want, and may be required by regulators, to compare several different options for process choice and other design criteria. They want to know the impact of those choices on costs and operational results. The design team must duplicate some, or even most, of the engineering work for each option considered.

Over the past decade, the engineers at Transcend Water, an innovative wastewater management design company, have developed the Transcend Design Generator. This SaaS app automates much of the preliminary engineering work and reduces the time required to create meaningful data for decision-makers. The work that traditionally took weeks or months can now be done in 8 hours or less and allows comparison of several options.

Environmental Considerations for Wastewater Treatment Plants

Those who have an interest in a plant’s construction and operating costs (think city councils or contractors who lease the plant to a community and manage it for them) want to know the cost/benefit ratio of each choice. How clean can we make the effluent for what cost?

A beautiful clean waterfall – the aim of wastewater treatment processes – credit Mourizal Zativa on Unsplash.com

Regulators who approve wastewater treatment plant designs want to compare projected results of process choices and other design considerations.

Climate change adds another dimension to the puzzle. Suppose the plant is near an ocean shore. How much might sea-level change during the plant’s life? What if tornados or heavy snow become more frequent where they rarely or never happened before?

As the wastewater treatment industry has operated, and in many cases, still does operate, the people who invest in wastewater treatment plants are reluctant to spend time and money on the expensive and time-consuming planning and engineering process. However, this part of a WWTP’s development is where the decisions are made that most strongly impact the outcome of the plant, from both an operating efficiency point of view and an environmental impact perspective.

Again we’ll mention the Transcend Design Generator from Transcend Water as part of the solution to this issue. When the engineering and process selection phase of a project is shortened, the plant owner can consider more options and make a better decision, improving the financial and environmental impacts of the project.

How Will Your Wastewater Treatment Needs Change During the Life of the WWTP?

Wastewater treatment plants are usually expected to operate for up to 25 years from their installation date. Predicting the changes that will impact the WWTP and what will be required of it 25 years hence is challenging.

  • How much will the community population increase?
  • What new regulations will require cleaner effluent?
  • What are the potential effects of climate change?

You can, of course, build spare capacity into the plant to accommodate some population growth, and that could cover needs for the next several years.

As much as possible, it’s best to have space available for expansion of the wastewater treatment plant and to provide connections in the P & ID (Piping and Instrumentation Diagram), so it will be easy to connect additional facilities as required.

What’s Next?

The increase in world population, along with more people preferring to live in population centers, will increase the need for wastewater treatment. Add to that the need for environmental consciousness because it’s just the right way to do things and because regulators will require it. 

The decisions that wastewater treatment plant owners must make will continue to increase in complexity.

It seems automation is the answer to solving complex problems with many decision-making branches. The Transcend Design Generator may not be a magic bullet, but at the moment, it appears to solve many of the problematic issues faced by developers of these facilities.

If you’d like to learn more and discuss your wastewater treatment needs with Transcend Water’s experts, go to their website.

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