“Did you know that globally, two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste gets dumped into the world’s waterways? “~ Source
Additionally, unregulated, or illegal discharge of contaminated water is also released into water bodies. With the level of contaminated water rising, the U.S. government has set up centralized wastewater treatment facilities to treat wastewater and keep water reservoirs free of pollutants.
Centralized wastewater treatment (CWT)
Wastewater treatment facilities in the United States process approximately 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. ~ EPA
Wastewater treatment is a process of removing impurities or contaminants from wastewater and converting it into an effluent before it’s released back into the aquifers or water bodies such as lakes, oceans, rivers, and estuaries, etc. The objective of centralized wastewater treatment is to reduce the levels of pollutants in the wastewater and produce effluent as per the EPA Effluent guidelines so that it doesn’t harm the environment. These facilities treat wastewater through a combined process that includes:
- Sedimentation (or clarification)
The CWT facilities operate as per NAICS codes 562211 (hazardous waste treatment and disposal), 562219 (other non-hazardous waste treatment and disposal), and 562920 (materials recovery facilities).
Industrial wastewater treatment
Industrial wastewater has a high concentration of hazardous and non-hazardous waste that can affect the quality of receiving waters or interfere with publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The wastewater is directed to a water treatment plant where it is cleaned. It helps to reduce the impact of the wastewater released from these industries on the environment. The wastewater treatment removes hazardous chemicals from the water, and then it is released into the sewer or water sources.
The degree of treatment of the wastewater directly depends on the environmental conditions and standards regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting program has established discharge limits and conditions for industrial and commercial sources with specific limitations based on the type of facility/activity generating the discharge.
If cleaned wastewater will be discharged into streams it is treated for oxygen, toxic chemicals, turbidity, acidity, and microorganisms. If cleaned wastewater will be discharged into sewers, it is treated only for microbes, acidity, suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen.
The industrial wastewater treatment process
The industrial wastewater stream treatment process includes three stages to neutralize, filter, extract, and separate all the dangerous contaminants in the wastewater and ensure that the water is fit for release into sewers or water bodies.
#1. Preliminary wastewater treatment – In this stage, the wastewater is passed through screens or filtering devices to eliminate grits and coarse solids. Approximately 50% of the solids suspended in the water are eliminated in this stage. The filtered material is also known as primary sludge.
#2. Secondary wastewater treatment – In the biological process of water treatment, microorganisms are added to the wastewater to remove biodegradable materials. The microbes consume the suspended organic matter and produce carbon dioxide and other by-products. The treated and cleared water settles at the bottom of the tank. This wastewater does contain microorganisms, and this wastewater residual is known as secondary or biological sludge.
The bio-solids produced in the preliminary and secondary water treatment can be used as a natural fertilizer or soil conditioners in farming and cultivation, and for energy production. The bio-solids may also be broken into simple substances by incineration and dispersed into the environment through air, water, or soil.
#3. Tertiary wastewater treatment – In tertiary waste treatment, some chemicals are added to remove residuals and final effluent. The industrial wastewater undergoes this treatment only when the water is supposed to be discharged into drinking water bodies.
Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Wastewater Management and Treatment Facilities
Industrial wastewater contains a remarkably high concentration of pollutants and is remarkably difficult to treat. Because of this, it is strongly recommended for industries to hire a firm that is familiar with the (RCRA) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act rules and regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and all local and state codes.
Meeting environmental regulations while optimizing operations and reducing operating costs can be difficult. Only companies that offer RCRA wastewater management and solutions should be trusted for a job like this. So, if you are looking into wastewater treatment technologies and need to choose a centralized wastewater treatment facility that can produce effluent under official guidelines, we recommend you choose from any of these water treatment companies/facilities below:
#1. Clean Harbors
They offer a wide range of wastewater treatment technologies for liquid and semi-liquid hazardous and non-hazardous wastewater. They provide industrial wastewater treatment services throughout North America. They can help you treat various types of industrial wastewater streams, including:
- RCRA wastewater with organics
- RCRA wastewater with heavy metals
- Organic wastewater
- Non-hazardous wastewater
- CERCLA hazardous wastewater
- Inorganic wastewater
- Listed hazardous wastewater
- Oil and water mixtures
- TSCA, RCRA/TSCA, and non-TSCA PCB wastewater
#2. Clean Water Environmental (CWE)
CWE offers high-end wastewater treatment that includes neutralization, filtration, extraction, separation, and recycling of wastewater streams. Their facilities for hazardous and non-hazardous wastewater management deliver environment-friendly wastewater streams. They use tried-and-tested processes and cutting-edge systems to generate effluent that meets regulatory compliance.
CWE treats wastewater from different sources, including homes, businesses, and industries (chemical plants, refineries, landfills, and various types of manufacturing facilities). They offer water treatment facilities for some specific wastewater streams such as:
- Machine coolants and process waters
- Combustible and flammable liquids (hazardous or exempt)
- Caustics and Acids
- Heavy metals laden waters
- Waters containing alcohols, glycols, oils, fuels, resins, and other organics
CWE has two wastewater treatment plants in Ohio to meet their customers’ needs throughout the U.S. Midwest as well as the Mid-Atlantic.
They use Dissolved Air Floatation and Niro Falling Film Evaporator technology to treat the wastewater. The Niro technology is based on Best Available Technology (BAT) for the reduction (treatment) of industrial wastewaters by the Ohio EPA.
#3. Waste Management solutions (WM)
WM has the expertise and technology to manage wastewater treatment residuals through custom and turnkey services, leasing or engineering, and chemical design. WM’s Industrial Waste Processing Services Group, especially WMDolphin, has proven expertise in refining, chemical, manufacturing, food manufacturing, sewage treatment, and wastewater residuals treatment.
What do they offer?
- An unbiased approach to evaluating the best dewatering technologies.
- Customer-engineered dewatering and oil recovery solutions
- Unique waste reduction programs
- No capital requirements
- Turkey dewatering capabilities — episodic events, maintenance outages, long-term solutions
- Extracting value from historically high cost/high-volume waste streams
- Consultative approach to hard-to-handle and high-volume sludges
#4. US Ecology
If your wastewater contains residues of metal, base, acid, cyanide, latex, and industrial process waste, etc., US Ecology can help you. They offer comprehensive hazardous and non-hazardous wastewater management solutions in an environmentally safe and cost-effective manner. Their facilities can accept wastewater through different modes including tanker truck, container, or rail. Some of the wastewater treatment services offered by the US Ecology are:
- Physical, chemical, biological treatment
- Oil-water separation
- Aerobic treatment
- Anaerobic digestion
- Rail car tanker washout capabilities
- Internal tank wash capabilities
- Dissolved air floatation technology
- Filter press
- Large capacity at multiple locations
Veolia companies operate over 8,500 water and wastewater facilities and systems throughout the world. Their operational work experience and proprietary water treatment technologies allow them to treat water effectively. They ensure to monitor the quality of water at each stage of treatment and recycling of wastewater. Veolia offers a comprehensive range of wastewater services for its customers including:
- Physical/chemical processes
- Filtration and separation
- Mobile water treatment
- Anaerobic wastewater treatment
- Biological treatment
- Evaporation and crystallization
- Treatment chemicals and membrane-based solutions
Failing to treat wastewater can potentially harm the environment and human health. Industries should contact RCRA wastewater management and solutions facilities and take proper steps to ensure appropriate treatment of wastewater before it is recycled/reused and or discharged into the environment or POTW.