Meeting the needs of the water/wastewater industry is our priority. We supply cost-effective solutions to concrete degradation, restoration, corrosion prevention, waterproofing, and rehabilitation of manholes and holding pond liners. Use our coating systems to restore and maintain sand filters, clarifying tanks, holding tanks, and many other steel, concrete, or operational equipment. Complies with NSF/ANSI standard 61, section 5.
The Need for Containment Solutions in the Water & Wastewater Industry
Wastewater management covers many different industries, but ultimately the goal is the same: reduce pollutants in the water used by manufacturers and other industrial facilities.
The simplest definition of wastewater is water that has been used.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it includes everything from household waste like food scraps, oils, and soaps to industrial run-off and chemicals and other hazardous materials from different kinds of businesses.
Wastewater also includes storm runoff, which can pick up substances as it travels across roads, sidewalks, and buildings. Because of this, rainwater must be treated to lessen pollution in rivers, lakes, and streams as this water is added back into these ecosystems.
What Is the Wastewater Industry?
As the USGS says, “Much of the water used by homes, industries, and businesses must be treated before it is released back into the environment.”
The wastewater industry takes care of this vital process. Sometimes called sewage treatment, this process removes different kinds of pollutants from wastewater produced every day. The wastewater industry treats water so it can rejoin the water cycle in a state that nature can accommodate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water describes the essential purpose of wastewater treatment as speeding up “the natural processes by which water is purified.”
The EPA outlines two different kinds of wastewater treatment: primary and secondary water treatment.
They explain that during primary water treatment, “solids are allowed to settle and be removed from wastewater.”
According to the USGS, primary treatment removes, “about 60 percent of suspended solids from wastewater.”
The EPA explains that the second stage of water treatment “uses biological processes to further purify wastewater.”
Secondary treatment removes more than 90 percent of suspended solids, according to the USGS.
Some industrial wastewater may also be pre-treated to remove pollutants before either of the standard phases of wastewater treatment.
The USGS states that “the major aim of wastewater treatment is to remove as much of the suspended solids as possible before the remaining water, called effluent, is discharged back to the environment.”
What Chemicals or Toxins Are in Wastewater?
A 2014 report by Arjun K. Venkatesan and Rolf U. Haldena (both of Arizona State University) in the journal Nature Research used sewage treatment plants to observe common chemicals in wastewater.
Their research found that nationally representative samples of sewage sludge (also called biosolids) “were analyzed for 231 [contaminants of emerging concern], of which 123 were detected.”
Their work revealed that 10 of the top 11 contaminants of emerging concern “were found to be high-production volume chemicals, eight of which representing priority chemicals, including three flame retardants, three surfactants, and two antimicrobials.”
The USGS lists medicines (both prescription and non-prescription drugs), personal hygiene products (like soap and disinfectants), chemical additives, and preservatives as different kinds of pollutants in wastewater.
These pollutants “are present in the environment and associated with various sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants, runoff from agricultural and urban land surfaces, and septic systems.”
What Impact Can Wastewater Have on the Environment?
If wastewater is not treated, it can cause serious harm to the environment and widespread illness.
The CDC makes the dangers of untreated water clear: contaminated water can cause severe pain, disability, and even death. The EPA sets limits on over 90 contaminants in drinking water in order to protect human health, while the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) allows states to set even more stringent drinking water standards, should they choose to.
In addition to human health, water treatment is essential for keeping animals and wildlife habitats healthy.
“Clean water is critical to plants and animals that live in water,” says the USGS. “Our rivers and ocean waters teem with life that depends on shoreline, beaches, and marshes. They are critical habitats for hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic life. Migratory waterbirds use the areas for resting and feeding.”
A recent example of how wastewater can impact the environment is nutrient pollution. The EPA describes harmful algal blooms as “overgrowths of algae in water.”
These blooms are caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus, which come from agriculture, fossil fuels, and other wastewater.
What Are the Rules and Regulations for Containing and Handling Wastewater?
The EPA enforces a variety of rules, regulations, and requirements related to pollution, chemicals, and wastewater. The Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program allows the EPA to “regulate discharges of pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, sewer collection systems, and stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities.”
The NPDES permit program was created when the Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed in 19772. The NPDES addresses water pollution by “regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States.”
“The permit provides two levels of control: technology-based limits and water quality-based limits (if technology-based limits are not sufficient to provide protection of the water body).”
Additionally, individual states may have their own clean water laws.
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the American National Standard Institue (ANSI), with help from experts, scientists, and industry stakeholders, created NSF/ANSI/CA 61. This regulation must be complied with for any company that manufactures, sells, or distributes water treatment or distribution products in North America. This rule created a set of health effects criteria for several water system components. Some of these components include the protective barriers and sealer materials that are used in the construction of systems.
Storage and Secondary Spill Containment Solutions
The EPA advises that contaminated water should generally “be contained and treated either in situ or using temporary storage consistent with applicable regulatory requirements.”
When considering which containment and treatment method is appropriate for the spill you are managing, the EPA highlights the following concerns (among others):
- The risk to public health and the environment
- Worker health and safety
- Contaminant properties
- Potential adherence to infrastructure and subsequent contamination of additional water
- Aerosolization and/or vaporization potential
- Any isolation of water that may be needed during the confirmation of contamination
The EPA advises that containing and treating contaminated water in situ may be an option in certain circumstances. If containment and treatment of water in situ isn’t possible for you, temporary storage may be an appropriate alternative for containment.
In fact, the EPA singles out the following (as well as others) as potential types of temporary containers for contaminated water:
- 55-gallon drums
- Single- or multiple-tank trucks
- On-site or off-site holding tanks
- Empty water basins
Any leakage of contaminated water into the surrounding environment can result in fines and costly cleanup. Having a fully contained and sealed infrastructure can help mitigate this type of leakage. Industrial spray coating and sealers can provide an extra layer of protection. This spray-on solution helps stops concrete from degrading and steel from corroding.