Top 10 Factors Affecting the Efficiency of Sewage Treatment Plants

Industrial Sewage Treatment Plants

An Industrial Sewage Treatment Plant is a specialised facility designed to process wastewater generated by industries, which is considered an undesirable by-product. Following treatment, industrial wastewater, also known as effluent, can be either reused or discharged into a sanitary sewer or surface water bodies within the environment. Most industrial processes dedicate facilities to treat their wastewater, ensuring that the concentrations of pollutants in the treated wastewater meets the regulations governing wastewater disposal into sewers, rivers, lakes, or oceans. As a result, sewage treatment plants play a crucial role in safeguarding public health and the environment. They remove harmful contaminants from wastewater, which helps to stop the spread of illnesses and preserve water quality in addition to other benefits, including cost savings & sustainability.

In this blog post, we will explore the 10 most important factors that influence the efficiency of sewage treatment plants. By better understanding these factors, we can enhance the performance of sewage treatment plants and safeguard public health and the environment.

Top 10 Factors Affecting the Efficiency of Sewage Treatment Plants

Efficiency in sewage treatment plants is impacted by numerous factors affecting their effectiveness. The following list highlights the top 10 factors that can significantly influence the efficiency of sewage treatment plants.

1. The capacity of the plant

The capacity of a sewage treatment plant refers to the maximum amount of sewage it can process within a specific time frame. If the plant becomes overloaded, it can effectively remove all pollutants from the sewage, resulting in treated water that should be cleaner. However, this can lead to releasing harmful substances into the environment, posing risks to human health and the ecosystem. Several strategies can be employed to prevent overloading, including building a plant with sufficient capacity to handle the projected sewage flow and reducing sewage generation, such as promoting water conservation and recycling.

2. Resource availability

Resource availability directly impacts the efficiency of sewage treatment plants in several ways. For example, insufficient energy supply limits the plant’s operational capacity, potentially releasing pollutants into the environment. Similarly, more freshwater availability is needed to improve proper sewage treatment, which may result in the discharge of pollutants. Furthermore, the scarcity of essential chemicals can impede effective pollutant removal, compromising treatment efficiency. Additionally, limited resources such as staff, equipment, and land can constrain the plant’s operational capacity, reducing efficiency and potential environmental contamination.

3. Presence of toxic substances

Toxic substances in sewage can hinder the efficiency of treatment plants by harming the microorganisms responsible for breaking down sewage, leading to the release of pollutants. They can also damage equipment, increasing operational and maintenance costs. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium are toxic to microorganisms and infrastructure. Organic pollutants like pesticides and solvents can also interfere with treatment. Reducing the impact of poisonous substances involves preventing their entry into the sewage system primarily through pre-treatment. Chemical treatment can neutralize toxins and pathogens, but environmental concerns are associated with this approach. Alternative technologies such as membrane bioreactors, constructed wetlands, and anaerobic digestion can effectively remove toxins to facilitate the comprehensive benefits of sewage treatment.

4. Maintenance of equipment

Well-maintained equipment contributes significantly to sewage treatment operations’ overall efficiency and effectiveness. An efficient running of a sewage treatment plant requires periodic maintenance and daily checks of the system. Failure to do so can lead to the blockage of pipelines, malfunctioning of some processes, and even output that cannot be discharged into the environment. Additionally, implementing regular maintenance and servicing practices significantly extends the lifespan of equipment, minimizing the frequency of replacements and costly repairs. This results in substantial cost savings and ensures sustained efficiency in the long run.

5. The skill of the operators

The skill of their operators significantly influences the efficiency of sewage treatment plants. Skilled operators can quickly identify and address problems, preventing the release of pollutants and saving costs. They can also optimize processes to reduce energy and water usage. Comprehensive training, including hands-on experience, is essential to ensure that operators are skilled. Providing ongoing education opportunities through workshops and seminars helps keep their skills up-to-date. Creating a positive work environment can also foster motivation and engagement among operators, contributing to efficient plant operations.

6. Consistent availability of sewage water

The consistent availability of sewage enables the treatment process to operate with enhanced efficiency. This is because the treatment process is designed to function optimally at a specific flow rate. When the flow rate remains consistent, the treatment process can effectively eliminate pollutants from the sewage, leading to improved results. Additionally, the plant is more reliable when the sewage is consistently available at a given time. This is because the plant is less likely to experience problems due to fluctuations in flow rate. The importance of consistent sewage availability is greater in residential communities, such as apartments, compared to industries. Unlike industries with a fixed output and relatively stable wastewater flow, residential areas experience varying sewage outflows throughout the day and across different days due to multiple factors. This variability necessitates robust sewage infrastructure and management systems to handle fluctuating volumes effectively. In contrast, industries often have more predictable wastewater generation patterns, making consistent availability less of a critical issue in comparison.

7. Environmental factors

Environmental factors can have a range of effects on the efficiency of sewage treatment plants. For instance, pH can affect the function of microorganisms, and the availability of oxygen and nutrients is crucial for treatment processes. In addition, weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, can overload the plant. To mitigate these effects, it is essential to design and operate plants in a way that allows them to adapt to environmental factors. This can include incorporating aeration systems to supply oxygen, adjusting chemical dosing, and monitoring the environment to identify changes that may impact the treatment plant’s efficiency.

8. Monitoring and control systems

Monitoring and control systems collect data on various parameters, allowing for the early detection of problems and implementing corrective actions. They can also help optimize treatment processes by automatically adjusting chemical dosages and wastewater flow. In addition, safety is improved through automated shutdowns in the event of issues such as high temperatures. Monitoring and control systems offer several benefits, including reduced environmental impact, improved public health through the reduction of pathogens, and conservation of resources such as water and energy. By utilizing these systems, the smooth operation and maintenance of sewage treatment plants is made possible.

9. Cleaning and Sanitization

Cleaning and sanitation are essential practices that help prevent the spread of disease and improve the plant’s overall performance. Cleaning and sanitation also remove debris and contaminants that can clog pipes and disrupt the treatment process apart from sheltering plaque. Additionally, these practices can conserve resources by reducing water and energy consumption. To maintain cleanliness and sanitation, training personnel, providing necessary resources, establishing regular schedules, monitoring effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments are essential.

10. Discharge regulations

Wastewater discharge regulations set national wastewater treatment and control standards to meet effluent discharge requirements. Therefore, they play a crucial role in shaping the design and operation of sewage treatment plants to ensure compliance with effluent discharge standards. To manage the impact of discharge regulations on sewage treatment plants, service providers should plan, work with regulators, invest in new technologies, and regularly monitor performance. By proactively addressing regulatory requirements and implementing appropriate treatment processes, sewage treatment plants can consistently achieve the desired quality of sewage treatment plant effluent and meet the necessary compliance standards.

Maximizing Efficiency and Performance: The Significance of Regular Maintenance for STPs

Regular maintenance is essential for sewage treatment plants (STPs) because it offers many benefits. It improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the plants, ensuring optimal treatment performance. It also helps prevent breakdowns and malfunctions, minimising operational disruptions and costly repairs. Regular maintenance contributes to the prolonged lifespan of equipment and infrastructure, reducing the need for frequent replacements. It enhances safety within the plant and promotes compliance with regulatory standards, mitigating potential risks to the environment and human health. Neglecting preventive operations for STPs can lead to decreased efficiency and effectiveness, resulting in inadequate wastewater treatment. It also increases the likelihood of breakdowns and malfunctions, leading to higher operational costs.

Wipro Water Approach

Wipro Water is a division of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering that provides a wide range of water and wastewater treatment solutions and plant operation and maintenance services to industries and communities. With over 40 years of experience in the water treatment industry, Wipro Water has served over 500 customers in 25 different industry segments. In addition, the company offers end-to-end, custom-designed integrated plants for various sectors.

Wipro Water is aware of the importance of sewage treatment plants and has implemented a complete STP maintenance program to ensure their optimal performance. This program includes preventative maintenance practices such as regular inspections, equipment cleaning, and timely replacement of damaged parts. Furthermore, Wipro Water prioritises the constant training of its technicians, equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to operate and maintain STPs effectively. This includes staying updated with the latest advancements in water treatment technologies, enabling Wipro Water to provide reliable and sustainable sewage treatment solutions. 

Wipro Water offers complete Operation and Maintenance Services to Water, Effluent & Sewage Treatment Plants across the globe.