This expert guide from Water Treatment Services reviews the processes involved in a wastewater treatability study and highlights the benefits it can deliver. It explains what this type of study involves, and how a detailed evaluation of a business’s industrial effluent stream can help to reduce liquid waste disposal costs, improve environmental performance and support regulatory compliance processes. The guide highlights the importance of the initial wastewater testing and analysis stages, and then goes on to consider each step in detail.
What is a wastewater treatability study?
A wastewater treatability study is the process of looking at the wastewater a business produces and considering the best way of treating it from a process, environmental, regulatory and cost perspective.
A good treatability study will firstly identify the problem or problems the business faces in dealing with its liquid wastes, and then suggest which treatment solutions may be most appropriate.
Environmental and regulatory standards
Wastewater treatability studies should also look at any local environmental and other regulations affecting waste treatment processes when it comes to discharging water.
For example, if you are planning to discharge your wastewater or trade effluent directly into the public sewer, any water must come up to the standards set by the water company.
If the water is to be discharged into water courses such as streams, rivers or the sea, different types of regulations may apply.
When pulling together a wastewater treatability study, at the early stages it is important that you examine in detail the relevant local environmental and waste regulations in order to establish what sort of biological and chemical make-up you need to achieve in the wastewater flowing out from your plant, factory or site.
How to construct a wastewater treatability study
Constructing a treatability study is an important process which can be split in to a number of distinct stages which are explained in more detail here:
Step one – Identify your wastewater problems
Usually, an organisation will already have an inkling about what their wastewater and contamination problems are before commissioning an external specialist such as Water Treatment Services to carry-out a detailed wastewater treatability study of their processes.
The wastewater specialists you engage will seek to identify ways of treating the problems you have already highlighted as well as testing for other contaminants not previously identified.
They will also review any changes in your internal processes which may have led to a change in the quality of the wastewater leaving you plant, process or site.
Thorough testing of the wastewater is always the starting point for any good wastewater treatability study.
This detailed chemical analysis will show exactly what minerals, chemicals, biological and other contaminants are in the water and that could impact the quality of your trade effluent.
This type of wastewater analysis is also sometimes known as a characterisation study and is an important initial step.
Once the microbiological and chemical composition of the water has been established, the next step is to look at which treatment solutions are most effective on that particular mix of contaminants.
Step two – Analyse the results of your wastewater tests
Depending on the size and nature of the wastewater treatability study, it can typically take as long as three months for the laboratory to come up with accurate water testing results that can be used as part of the investigations.
In an emergency situation, such as a spill or other type of on-site contamination, a temporary lab can be set up to fast-track tests through the system.
If the situation is less urgent, wastewater testing is typically done off-site and in a more detailed manner.
Three months is the worst-case scenario for a wastewater treatability study, as most straight forward water tests usually take up to a fortnight to complete.
This involves a number of days for scientific analysis in the lab, another few days to interpret the data, and a week or so to compile the analytical report and make recommendations for action.
If you know that your effluent streams are complex or involve complex contamination or organics, this timescale might be stretched closer to the three-month level.
At this stage of the investigation, the specialists which you have asked to perform your wastewater treatment study will typically liaise closely with staff on-site and deal with the person who is responsible for Health and Safety, or managing the company’s environmental responsibilities.
The techniques suggested for treating the wastewater must ensure that the water is brought up to the minimum standards set down by law, and preferably exceeding them.
Step three – Evaluate alternative treatment processes
Once the wastewater treatability study is completed, you should be very clear about what problem contaminants you have to deal with.
At this stage, some businesses will choose to trial the various options for treating or removing contamination from their effluent streams to see which approach is most effective from a process, environmental, regulatory and cost perspective.
Stage four – implementation of the preferred wastewater treatment approach
Once the most effective method, or methods have been established for dealing with your effluent, the next job is to work out how to scale up the approach to deal with much larger volumes of contaminated wastewater.
This might involve buying a new piece of plant or equipment, or making adjustments to some of the processes or equipment you already have on site.
Most wastewater treatability studies will look at the range of options for wastewater treatment, and will make a recommendation based not only on the most effective method of removing contamination, but also the most efficient and cost-effective based on the equipment and expertise you already have in your business.
On a final note, you should be wary of specialist companies who push their own bespoke wastewater treatment solutions only, and don’t take into consideration the specific requirements of your plant or current processes.
Wastewater treatability and industrial effluent solutions
Water Treatment Services offer a comprehensive range of industrial effluent and wastewater management solutions.
Find out how we can help reduce your costs, achieve regulatory compliance and improve environmental performance with a detailed wastewater treatability study.
Our experts can provide advice and full support to help you identify the most appropriate strategies for managing your liquid waste and effluent streams.
With offices in London serving the South and South East England, Manchester (North West), Birmingham (Midlands), Bristol (South East England and Wales), Leeds (North and North East) and Glasgow (Scotland), supported by regional teams of specially trained engineers, wastewater specialists and technicians we offer cost effective environmental support solutions across the whole of the UK and Ireland.
Contact us today to learn how our expert wastewater management solutions can help improve environmental performance, reduce costs and achieve cost effective discharge consent standards.
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