The Value of Restoring Capacity

September 10, 2018
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A Cost-Savings Opportunity for Wastewater Treatment & Collection Facilities

You’ve heard it before and most likely experienced it firsthand – the buildup of sand and grit in wastewater treatment infrastructure resulting in reduced treatment volume and increased energy usage.  The questions to ask are, do you have a sand and grit problem, and how do you know?   If you can’t see it, it must not exist!  The water at a wastewater treatment plant is often too murky to see through, and sand and grit might or not might not be present.  If it is present, there is value in restoring capacity.

USST Combination3® truck removing sand from tank

Determining whether or not there is an issue can be the real challenge.  Over time, sand seeps into pipes and lift stations and is eventually transported to wastewater treatment infrastructure.  Since the water in tanks at facilities are not see-through, accumulated sand at the bottom of tanks remains unseen and unnoticed until the associated problems have become acute and require immediate attention.

Often, the first solution to restoring capacity is to build a new tank instead of cleaning existing tanks.  Consider instead the value of restoring capacity versus replacing capacity by cleaning; when the sand is removed, capacity is restored in the structure.  Removing sand from wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure has three potential benefits which may be worth considering if they apply:

  1. Restoring capacity may eliminate or defer a capital expense. The value of a cubic yard of restored capacity in a wastewater treatment structure at a facility of ≤5 MGD can be as high as $3,000 per cubic yard.  In other words, we see a savings of approximately $3,000 of bricks and mortar for every cubic yard of sand removed.
  2. Sand removal provides an alternative strategy to lining or replacing leaking pipes and lift stations.
  3. Removing sand can reduce energy demand when aeration performance has been impacted. The benefit of reducing the amount of energy required to run blower systems by removing sand can be significant.

Ultimately, when the annual cost of maintenance is less than the cost of borrowing the capital to build a new structure or even repair the existing structure, then removing sand at the treatment facility may make more sense.

This brings us back to the original question: Do you have a sand problem?  Our knowledgeable team can help you answer that question and assist in building a preventative maintenance plan for your facility.  If you are a facility ≤3 MGD, you may even qualify for state grant assistance.  Call (844) 765-7866 to learn more.

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