Managing Industrial Wastewater Treatment
There are reasons an industry is required to install a wastewater treatment system. The most common include the following:
- Your business is a Federally Regulated industry known to use toxic chemicals in the industrial process. These industries are referred to as Categorical Industrial Users (CIUs).
- The business’s wastewater flow is more than 25,000 gallons of water per day which classifies the business as a Significant Industrial User (SIU).
- The business’ process wastewater makes up five (5) percent or more of the average dry weather hydraulic or organic capacity of the POTW Treatment plant.
- Designated by the Control Authority on the basis that the Industrial User has a reasonable potential for adversely affecting the POTW’s operation or for violating any Pretreatment Standard or requirement.
Wastewater system operation and maintenance (O&M) is a complex process which is essential to facility compliance and the successful treatment of wastewater before it is discharged to the POTW. Industrial wastewater is a product or byproduct of industrial and commercial processes, and are separate from domestic sanitary sources of wastewater.
Due to sensors and meters used to effectively operate the system, a preventative maintenance program is essential to achieve and maintain compliance. Sensors and meters rely on interaction by personnel. Depending upon the size and complexity of the system the operator not only operates the system but may also perform the maintenance.
Properly operating an industrial wastewater treatment system in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations includes many requirements. Some of these requirements include the following:
Characteristics of Incoming Wastewater
- As an Industrial Wastewater Discharger, you need to know the processes that produce the wastestream that needs to be treated.
- You need to know the chemicals and usage of these chemicals in the industrial process which becomes part of the wastewater discharge.
- The operator needs to know the plant’s chemical management plan and other procedures to verify the chemicals that are kept on-site, and how those chemicals are handled.
- Characterization of the wastewater is part of the wastewater discharge permit application process.
- Review the procedures for how products and chemicals are combined to produce the wastestreams. If these procedures are not proper and are left uncorrected, those discrepancies could cause major problems in the future.
- Once the wastewater has been characterized and the variables have been identified, designing the treatment system and developing protocols to ensure continuous and compliant operation can begin.
Volume and Sources of Wastewater
- Understanding how water is used in the facility and process is necessary to manage the wastewater treatment system. It is key to pinpoint how much wastewater is generated in the facility generate and where do all of the wastestreams come from?
- If a facility receives wastewater discharge violations, whether related to volume, specific pollutants, or minor color discharges, the operator is responsible for bringing the effluent back to compliance.
- Decisions may have to be made divert certain pollutants from entering your wastewater stream. However, if the exact source of these pollutants are not known it may be difficult to eliminate. Additional investigation will be required. Sampling at various points in the process system is necessary to determine where the pollutant originates.
- When a wastestream has the potential to cause discharge compliance violations, controlling the wastestream by collecting it instead of sending it down the drain may represent a significant cost savings over adding wastewater treatment processes or continuing to receive violations (and the “bad press” that goes with them).
- When new processes are brought online, the operator must be involved in the early planning stages to determine what waste, if any, will contribute to your wastewater discharge. The operator should review safety data sheets for any products used in the new process and even run some sample analyses on the waste to confirm whether it poses any discharge compliance concerns. When in doubt, check with your contact at the regulatory authority. Adding new sources to an existing wastewater discharge may require submitting further documentation.
Wastewater Flow Measurement
- Industrial Pretreatment Permits include discharge flow requirements. These flow rates should only pertain to process water. Sanitary wastewater, Irrigation, Cooling/Boiler Water Evaporation should not be included in permit requirements.
- As a wastewater operator or compliance manager, you must be familiar with the balance of how much water flows into your facility, and how much leaves the facility. If the input does not equal the output, you must start tracking down discrepancies. For example, did you factor in cooling tower evaporation or irrigation uses? Does some of the water end up in a product that is containerized and moved off site.
- Accurate flow measurement is important for several reasons. Flow rate is arguably the most critical factor when calculating the capacity of your wastewater treatment system. You’ll be in a perpetual battle trying to ensure that your wastewater is fully treated, and any upset could mean you’ll have a major clean-up or compliance problem on your hands. Flow measurement is needed to determine treatment and thus how much of the chemical additives to keep on-hand. From a regulatory perspective, all discharge permits will require you to measure wastewater flow.
- Flow can be measured by many different methods and types of equipment. Some meters such as magnetic, paddlewheel, and turbine require full-pipe (closed channel) flow, and often have a minimum flow rate that they can register accurately, so they don’t work well for very low flow applications. Flumes and weirs are suited for partially filled pipes (open-channel) and can read accurately across large ranges, including at zero to just above. Choosing the correct equipment to measure your flow is critical to collecting accurate and useful data.
Identify daily, weekly, and monthly tasks of your wastewater operators
- The Operator’s responsibilities depends on the size of the system, the complexity of the wastestreams and the hours of operation.
- Operators are responsible for managing pumps, probes, filtration equipment, software and firmware updates to automated systems, general housekeeping, testing alarms, and any other tasks to keep a safe and orderly facility.
- Operators must report any spills or abnormal operations. Operators must also report operational changes, significant modifications and/or replacement equipment, changes in flow.
- Operators must initiate the proper notification in the communication chain, which may also include the regulatory authority.
- As a good practice for notification, when in doubt, check your permit requirements and call the regulatory authority. If you outsource wastewater system maintenance, your vendor can facilitate notification.
- Wastewater operators must also maintain their own licensure in good standing and be sure that they receive necessary training credit hours. These credits may go by names such as CEUs, PDHs, etc., depending on the terms the state licensing or certification board uses. No matter the name of your credits, don’t wait until the last minute to attend training right before your license renewal is due.
What are the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks of your wastewater operators?
As a good practice for notification, when in doubt, check your permit requirements and call the POTW. If you outsource wastewater system maintenance, your vendor can facilitate notification to your POTW but as the business’ manager you still have the final responsibility.
Wastewater operators must also maintain their own licensing in good standing and be sure that they receive necessary training credit hours. These credits may go by names such as CEUs, PDHs, etc., depending on the terms your state licensing or certification board uses. No matter the name of your credits, don’t wait until the last minute to attend training right before your license renewal is due.
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