The Future of Wastewater Management in Australia

Future of wastewater management in Australia - Neutrino Burst

What is wastewater?

Any form of water that has been polluted by domestic or commercial use is known as wastewater. In simple terms, it refers to all the dirty water from municipal sources. This includes grey water, black water and yellow water. Any form of water generated from rainfall-runoff is also termed as wastewater. It is generally categorised by how it was produced, notably, as industrial sewage, domestic sewage, or storm sewage.

Listed below are the three main ways wastewater in generated:

  • Domestic wastewater results from water usage in households, restaurants and businesses.
  • Industrial wastewater comes from discharges by commercial establishments and institutions. Especially manufacturing and chemical industries.
  • Rainwater situated in urban and agricultural areas mixes up with debris and various chemicals; thus, it becomes contaminated.

Wastewater contains many harmful substances. Which means it cannot be released back into the environment until adequate treatment has taken place.

What is wastewater treatment?

Wastewater treatment is the process through which the concentrations of particular pollutants are reduced to the minimum level. Through which the discharge of the effluent, will not pose a threat to human health and adversely affect the environment, especially natural bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and oceans. 

When enough impurities are present in water, it is said to be polluted. It is then unsuitable for a specific use, especially drinking, bathing or fishing. 

A significant element contributing to water pollution is the drainage of contaminated wastewater into surface water. Although water can be technically be purified through distillation, this could be detrimental to the receiving water. Fish and other organisms cannot survive in distilled water.

Importance of wastewater management

One of the most crucial natural resources on the planet is clean water; it is essential for life. The significance of wastewater treatment is twofold; to prevent toxins from spreading in our world and in restoring the water supply.

Wastewater can be treated in multiple ways; the efficiency of the process would determine the reuse percentage of the water before getting dumped to the ocean. Failing to manage your wastewater can potentially harm the environment and human health. It can prevent your facility from meeting with the discharge regulations, which can bring forth hefty fines and possible legal actions.

Australia’s population is growing and developing as time is progressing, the correct measures need to be taken. To ensure contaminated water is appropriately treated and recycled wherever possible. Especially at a time where many are predicting that a global shortage of water is just around the corner, an efficient wastewater management system is important as a preventive measure.

Traditional wastewater management methods in Australia

Every community should have an efficient way of disposing of wastewater. It is vital to ensure a practical passageway for the wastewater to reach the treatment facility. A wastewater system disposes of the effluent from a particular area to a treatment facility. 

The system being implemented to aid wastewater management in the present date is known as the Wet-Well system. 

Wet-well system

Wastewater or sewage is pumped from lower to higher elevation by using pump stations, also known as lift stations. Especially in areas where the determined elevation of the source is not sufficient for the flow of gravity. An adequately designed wet-well is mandatory for the hassle-free operation of the pump station.

Pumping stations in wastewater collection systems are generally designed and manufactured to handle raw sewage that is fed from underground gravity pipelines (sloped downwards to carry the inner liquid in one direction under gravity) which flows and gets stored in a pit, commonly known as a wet-well. The well is equipped with digital instrumentation (a float switch) to detect the level of sewage present.

With an influx of wastewater, the water level rises, the pumps are active when the sewage level rises to a predetermined point. It is lifted upwards through a pressurised pipe system to the outlet point. From here on forward, the cycle will repeat itself until the sewage reaches its outlet, usually a treatment plant. This method is implemented to transport waste to higher elevations. To withstand scenarios of a high level of wastewater flow into the well, suppose during rainy weather or peak flow periods, additional pumps are pre-installed.

The pumps used in wet-wells are known as submersible pumps.

Submersible pumps

As the name suggests, submersible pumps are designed to be immersed in the wet-well. Usually, these pumps use a pull-up design and move vertically upwards and downwards on guide rails.

Discharge of the pump is equipped with a self-locking coupling, connecting it to a stationery corner at the bottom of the container. Both the pump body and motor are developed to operate while being entirely submerged in wastewater. The pumps are used to push liquid towards the surface.

Drawbacks of the traditional system

Majority of the disadvantages of implementing a wet-well system for wastewater management stems from the fact that this system was designed more than seven decades ago, it is simply out of date. Unforeseen growth has taken place in the commercial and domestic sectors, especially in the industrial sector.

If we take Australia as an example, the population has tripled since the 1950s. From approximately 8 million to 25 million. Urban cities are more populous than ever before, sprouting tons of new households, restaurants etc. The wet-well system is not suitable or capable of handling the quantity of wastewater being pumped in the present-day climate.

We have mentioned the drawbacks of the current system below:

Wastewater clogging problems

Solid materials (example, rags, wipes, etc.) tend to accumulate in the bottom of the wet-well; this will clog the pipes and damage the pump impellers as time passes.

Expensive maintenance

Maintenance is costly; generally, the pumps would have to be uninstalled and transported to a local repair facility for inspection and repair.

Difficult to monitor and access

Difficult to monitor or clean the running conditions of the pumps are they are submerged in wastewater/ sewage, leading to difficulties in accessing them. Problems are hard to detect before the pump ceases to operate.

Frequent cleaning required

Grease, oil and fats can accumulate on float switches; routine cleaning is needed to keep the wastewater level detector functional.

Wastewater discharge

An insufficiency or a failure of pumps may lead to wastewater discharge into the environment.

Poisonous gases

Hydrogen sulphide (a harmful gas with unpleasant odours) can accumulate in the wet-well corroding electrical components. A person without proper equipment will be overcome by toxic fumes very quickly.

Direct Inline Pumping: the modern solution

During the early 2000s, a manufacturer of wastewater pumping systems recognised the costly issues at hand and trash clogging pumps. A new system was designed, built, tested and successfully created. A new pumping technology was born, known as Direct Inline Pumping (DIP) system.

The DIP system pumps gravity-fed effluent directly from the point of entry of a pump station. The pumps are directly connected to the pump station inlet and outlet. The DIP system overcomes the drawbacks of retaining raw sewage from the get-go.

Image credit: Process Industry Informer

Benefits of Direct Inline Pumping system

The much more modern when compared to traditional pumping systems is innovative and sustainable. It has brought forth much-required solutions to the wastewater management industry. 

We have mentioned the benefits of the DIP system below:

No more clogging

If the pump senses it is becoming clogged, it reverses its impeller direction, and knives pop up on the impeller and slices up any trash which may clog the system.

No emission of toxic gases

There is no emission of toxic gases and odours as the medium is sealed. Safe for employees to enter if needed.

Remote monitoring and management

The entire system can be monitored and controlled through remote management (fully programmable) using a desktop, or even a smartphone, anywhere in the plant or even from across the country!

Cheap and fast maintenance

Damaged impellers can be changed in as little as 15 minutes with common hand tools. The system is made of stainless steel, no more corrosion. And the best of all, the pumps clean themselves without the need for human intervention.

Energy efficient

The system is energy efficient; the pumps can start and stop (around 150 times an hour) depending on the flow of wastewater; this is done using Variable Frequency Drives.

Can be retrofitted

The system can be retrofitted to existing wet-wells if needed in place of the submersible pumps.

See how DIP system is installed:

Why should urban water management authority shift to new technology?

With passing time, Australia has to keep pace alongside the growing technology and innovations in the field of wastewater management. Companies may be initially fearful of shifting into more up to date technologically advanced systems, as humans, we tend to let things be. We rather spend a bucket load of money in maintenance rather than adopting new technology. 

The most crucial aspect to be kept in mind for the urban water management authority is to provide efficient management of wastewater in the urban cities of Australia. There is no need to implement still a wastewater management system using the aid of a wet-well system. Simply said, the system is out of date. The direct inline pump system addresses and improves upon each of the drawbacks of the wet-well system.

The technology has been deployed in numerous wastewater system in Europe and North America. With the Western countries paving the way forward with the implementation of DIP systems, their success stories should encourage the urban water management authorities in Australia to adopt this new wastewater system. Primarily because of roundabout 85.7 percentage of the Australian population resides in urban cities.

Government and private agencies have always wanted a system which would pave the way forward in terms of innovation and sustainability. The DIP system answers those needs. Take a step back, think about the younger generation who will be tasked with providing maintenance for wastewater systems in the future. They should not have to get their hands dirty when cleaning or repairing a submersible pump.

Now is the perfect time for urban water management authority to adapt to new technology. The Direct Inline Pump (DIP) system is the future of wastewater management. 

To wrap up

Be sure to check out Metaval, a major supplier of industrial controls in Australia. They are the sole distributor of DIP system in Australia. To learn more about DIP systems, please follow these links below:

SIDE Industries: Innovator of DIP system
DIP System vs. Traditional Lift Station
Why DIP is better
Direct Inline Pumping: The Answer To Wastewater Clogging Problems

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