New technologies, strategies boost efficiency, savings.
Waste not. Want not. Perhaps the ultimate proverb about thriftiness and savings, this familiar phrase dates back hundreds of years. Then again, if you want to save money in wastewater treatment, you’ll want to learn more about a few of to-day’s new technologies. It’s certainly time.
Most processors rely on their local municipal utilities for wastewater treatment. Those related costs are rising as cities and towns strive to recover all utility costs. Years ago, a municipality may have expensed some wastewater costs to its general fund (covered by tax dollars). Today, more towns directly allocate and assess these costs to end users.
Local, state and federal regulations also change constantly and vary by the location. Even so, these wastewater rule changes have something in common. Most call for a reduction in the volume of water along with an improvement in quality that’s released to a wastewater system.
All food plants need to control costs and serve as good environmental neighbors.
Fortunately, today’s technologies and water allocation strategies improve on yesterday’s wastewater treatment systems. First, there’s been a change of thought and approach. For example, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) strategies are influencing building design trends. These approaches emphasize overall water reduction along with water optimization (use and reuse). They also consider the quality and quantity of water released to municipal wastewater treatment plants.
Regardless of whether your company wants to officially pursue formal certification, it would be wise for any greenfield building owner to consider a LEED approach to equipment systems and resources management. A LEED approach says (1) there are many ways to reduce a food plant’s water requirements and (2) the less water to enter a facility, the less released to the wastewater treatment facilities.
Previously, to control the amounts of natural minerals left behind from the evaporating water, building operators added chemicals to the evaporator water. These chemicals would adhere to the minerals and settle out – to keep these minerals from affecting the surfaces of the condenser units. Because of the chemicals within the water to be released, operators would send this water to wastewater treatment facilities.
Now there’s a way for operators to (1) mechanically clean that water, (2) reuse it multiple times and (3) flush the system with a minimal amount of water … before releasing it to the wastewater system. An even more attractive alternative is to collect this water (which is essentially clean) and reuse a portion for irrigation. A large facility is required to have a significant amount of landscaping, which in most cases requires irrigation. Any reuse of water means a building operator does not need to purchase as much – and it translates to even more that is not discharged to a municipal wastewater treatment facility. To circle back to the earlier discussion, there are LEED points allocated for the reduction of purchased water, the reuse of water on-site and reduction in water released to the wastewater treatment facilities.
By Dan Frigge
ESl’s Dan Frigge has more than 30 years experience in civil engineering.