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Winter is here—and so is the EPA. How to handle wastewater runoff.

Whether farming, mining, building or manufacturing—if you produce wastewater, you have a treatment operation in place.

Flooding from heavy rains

Stormwater floods can severely impact wastewater operations. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Then winter hits.

It rains, flooding settling ponds, dams, treatment lagoons and pits. The overflow doesn’t meet EPA regulations for environmental discharge. You have been given two months to fix it.

Sound familiar?

It’s an issue we’re approached about often at this time of year, across Australia. Heavy rains lead to stormwater runoff that overwhelms treatment systems in place. It’s cold, it’s wet, your wastewater composition has likely changed and you have a deadline to fix it. So what can you do about it?

We recommend the following steps on how to handle wastewater runoff or flooded treatment ponds.

1. Water testing. Depending on your operation, your wastewater is likely to have a mix of dissolved and suspended solids that may require removal before the water can be safely discharged into local drains or recycled. Sending a sample for lab analysis will provide critical information on foreign particles in your wastewater to help you determine next steps.

2. Results analysis. Depending on the tests you’ve chosen, the lab will send back a report that looks something like this:

Lab report example - wastewater

Lab report example.

It will tell you what is in your wastewater, and how much, along with other properties like pH, turbidity, electro-conductivity (EC), and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP).

3. Technology selection/treatment strategy. Each water treatment technology has its benefits (and associated costs). For example, if your wastewater is high in suspended solids or turbidity, primary treatment might consist of clarification or filtration. Flocculation may be required depending on the particle size of the solids, and dewatering bags provide a low-cost, efficient option for dewatering large sludge volumes.

A dewatering bag pumped full of sludge and beginning to dewater

A dewatering bag pumped full of sludge and beginning to dewater.

Dissolved particles, or chemicals in your wastewater, may also require treatment before disposal. Different treatment options are available, including reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, ion exchange, chemical addition, aeration and many more. Usually multiple solutions are technically viable – and selection is based on cost, operability, reliability, and availability of the technology.

You can do the research yourself, or we can help. Our water treatment engineers can visit your site, take samples, report on the analysis and design a solution based on your operation and aligning to EPA regulations.

Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your project with one of our team.

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