Is Wastewater Pretreatment Right for Your Community?

Do you have commercial, industrial or non-residential wastewater being discharged into your wastewater system?  Most communities treat wastewater that is not strictly residential.  If you have a non-residential discharger on your system, you should have a pretreatment program or ordinance.  Existing wastewater treatment systems such as lagoons, modified lagoons, and treatment plants are not designed to treat commercial and industrial wastewater.  Publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) are designed to treat domestic wastewater.  Wastewater includes everything that goes down the drain, such as showers, bathwater, toilets, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, discharge from local industrial cooling systems, cleaning products, and chemical processes.

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POTWs are designed to collect and treat wastewater from homes but not to treat toxic pollutants from commercial buildings or industrial facilities. These toxic pollutants can cause serious problems at POTWs, such as pass-through of pollutants and interference in treatment.  This can have detrimental effects on the collection system, treatment facility, water quality of the receiving waterbody, groundwater discharge source, sludge, or irrigation crops.

All communities should have a pretreatment program to protect their wastewater investment, but not all communities are required to have an EPA-approved program. A pretreatment program will require wastewater treatment by commercial facilities, industrial facilities, and any other non-residential wastewater sources to remove harmful pollutants before the wastewater is discharged to a POTW.    In addition, a pretreatment program helps to maintain worker safety by protecting from harmful substances through limits on discharging dangerous gases and gas-forming substances. 

Steps to creating a pretreatment program include allowing the legal authority of the POTW to enforce rules and regulations and protect its existing wastewater infrastructure.  Great West has assisted clients in obtaining varying levels of pretreatment programs. However, at a minimum, we recommend every POTW have the legal authority to enforce the rules and regulations by ensuring an ordinance is current. 

To find out more about pretreatment and protection of your wastewater system, contact us today.