What Grade Would You Give Your Industrial Wastewater Equipment?
Every business and every member of a community needs infrastructure to survive and thrive. Investing in infrastructure is necessary for long-term economic growth. Once every four years, the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) provides a report card for various categories in America’s infrastructure. The ASCE uses a basic A to F school report card format, and also provides a comprehensive assessment of current conditions and needs along with recommendations for how to improve the grades.
The latest ASCE Report Card was published in 2013. In the infrastructure category of Wastewater, the ASCE gave our nation a “D” grade. The ASCE estimates the capital investment needs for our nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next twenty years. Pipes represent the largest capital need, making up three quarters of total needs. However, stormwater needs are still small compared with sanitary pipes and treatment plants. Since 2007, the federal government has required cities to invest more than $15 billion in new pipes, plants, and equipment to eliminate overflows.
There are between 700,000 and 800,000 miles of public sewer mains in the U.S. Many of these pipes were installed after World War II, which means they are now near the end of their useful life. Capital investments in those aging pipes account for around 80% of all wastewater system investment requirements in the United States.
The U.S. has about 15,000 wastewater treatment plants and 20,000 wastewater pipe systems as of 2008. The aging condition of these systems, along with inadequate capacity, is leading to the discharge of about 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage each year. One example can be seen in the city of Indianapolis, where an outdated sewage system has been dumping close to 8 billion gallons of sewage and storm water into creeks and rivers each year. In an effort to fix this problem, the city is now implementing a $3.1 billion sewage infrastructure project designed to trap and purify most of its sewage before it washes into the city’s rivers and streams.
When grading the category of drinking water, the ASCE also gives our nation’s infrastructure a “D” grade. It is estimated that more than one million miles of water mains are in place in the U.S., with about 240,000 water main breaks per year. Some pipes dating back to the Civil War era and are not assessed until there is water main break. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that around 4,000 to 5,000 miles of drinking water mains are being replaced annually. In the meantime, pipes installed during the mid-20th century are projected to begin to fail in large numbers. According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), costs to replace these pipes over the next few decades could reach more than $1 trillion.
Even though new pipes are being added to expand service areas, the useful life of drinking water system components ranges from 15 to 95 years. Therefore, in older cities in the U.S., the majority of drinking water systems are old and in need of replacement. Drinking water infrastructure failures can cause water disruptions, including damaged roadways, which can hinder emergency response and fire-control efforts.
When hearing about the aging infrastructure of wastewater treatment and drinking water systems in the U.S. and the extent of these issues, it makes us think about aging equipment on the industrial side of things. Industrial wastewater equipment averages a useful lifespan of about 30 years. In addition to equipment that was installed in the 70’s and 80’s going defunct, environmental regulations and rising sewer disposal costs are driving the need for capital equipment to be upgraded or replaced.
About 43 years ago, the Clean Water Act was passed to protect the nation’s waters in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands and contaminated runoff. Other acts followed, including the Safer Drinking Water Act of 1977, which put national drinking water standards into effect for the first time. Also for the first time, all public water suppliers were required to test their public water routinely and notify their customers if water was not up to EPA standards. Several other environmental policies have since been put into place, including additional standards for the disposal of industrial wastes into drain systems, such as effluent from metal hydroxide plating operations.
This need for upgrades in aging equipment, as well as increasing levels of environmental compliance has in turn led to an increased interest in industrial dewatering equipment, such as filter presses, clarifiers and sludge dryers. This increased need has also led to several innovations in wastewater equipment, such as automatic plate shifters and cloth washers on filter presses, and sludge dryers with user-friendly PLC touch screens and a fully automatic processing cycle.
Now that you’ve learned more about the ASCE and EPA’s outlook on the water and wastewater systems throughout the U.S., does it make you think more about the status of your industrial wastewater treatment system? What letter grade would you give your current equipment? If you would like to learn more about how M.W. Watermark can help you with your water treatment equipment, aftermarket parts or service needs, give us a call today, or request to be contacted and an M.W. Watermark expert will be in touch.
About M.W. Watermark
M.W. Watermark wants to make a difference. We are passionate about the world’s water. We are innovative, focused on customer service and always try to exceed expectations. We are an environmentally conscious company with people who are energized, encouraged and inspired to make a difference in the water business, and as a result, make a positive difference to our planet by helping to keep our shared, finite water supply clean and usable for generations to come. We build amazing, custom water and wastewater treatment equipment. We also specialize in rebuilding used water treatment equipment. Together, we can make a difference.
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—ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) – “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.” www.infrastructurereportcard.org
—“Aging Water Infrastructure ‘Nearing the End of Its Useful Life’” by Robert Holly. http://investigatemidwest.org/2014/06/23/aging-water-infrastructure-nearing-the-end-of-its-useful-life/
—EPA – “Aging Water Infrastructure Research – Addressing the Challenge Through Science and Innovation.” http://nepis.epa.gov/Adobe/PDF/P100EQ6Q.pdf
—EPA – “The Meaning of the 1977 Clean Water Act by Senator Edmund S. Muskie.” (D-Me.) [EPA Journal – July/August 1978].
—EPA – “Water is Worth It.” http://water.epa.gov/action/cleanwater40/