How Concrete Wastewater Can Be Recycled
More and more industries today are looking for opportunities to practice sustainability, and the concrete industry is leading the way. Concrete manufacturers, specifically those who make ready-mix concrete, are actually moving towards becoming zero-discharge facilities. A large amount of water goes into concrete processing, but instead of letting it go to waste, it’s being recycled and reused for a variety of different applications. As M.W. Watermark™ continues to supply the concrete industry with custom wastewater treatment equipment, we see firsthand some of the top ways water is being reused.
Where Concrete Wastewater Comes From
Ready-mix concrete is made from a mixture of paste and aggregates, like sand and rock. The paste is formed by cement and water and it’s used to bind all the aggregates together to make the finished product strong, yet workable. Some types of cement require more paste, and therefore water, than others. For example, if you want to achieve a stiffer consistency, less water is added to the mixture.
In addition to making the concrete, large volumes of water are also used to wash out the trucks. Water is run through the drum mixers and also sometimes used for pressure-washing. Both applications – concrete processing and truck washout – produce wastewater.
The Challenge of Reusing Wastewater
After it’s been processed, the water contains all sorts of impurities. It usually contains high amounts of suspended solids, lime, metals and sulfates with high pH levels. There are normally trace amounts of oil and grease from the equipment, too. As a result, this water can no longer be used for concrete mixing or washing, which is why it simply gets discharged. But when it’s discharged into our waterways, it disrupts aquatic ecosystems and kills fish along with their habitats.
In response to growing concerns about water availability and quality, concrete producers started looking for ways to treat this wastewater. This became especially relevant due to the Clean Water Act, which mandates the treatment of concrete wastewater. Today, these companies use filter presses and other treatment equipment to filter out most or all of those impurities to make the water clean again. While some shops put the treated wastewater back into the environment, others choose to reuse it.
Concrete Wastewater Recycling
With help from a filter press, waste from ready-mix systems, washout pits, block grinding and concrete cutting and grinding can all be recycled. As it turns out, this wastewater can be reused for both washing and concrete mixing. As long as the right quality control procedures are in place, it’s possible to use treated wastewater without diminishing the quality of the ready-mix product.
Osborne Concrete Co. is one example of a company that reuses its concrete wastewater. They were generating 50 gallons of wash water per truck. After working with M.W. Watermark to design and install a wastewater treatment process, almost 100% of the water became available for re-use. The filter press helped them cut back on costs and make it easier for them to comply with the EPA. Plus, they’re able to do their part in keeping the planet’s water supply clean and healthy.
Learn More About Filter Presses and the Concrete Industry
If you work in the concrete industry and are seeking ways to reduce the amount of wastewater you’re discharging, look to M.W. Watermark. We can help you determine the best strategy to recycle and reuse not only water, but recovered aggregates, too. Learn more about our filter presses or contact us to speak with a member of our team.
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 on 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. Together, we can make a difference.