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Wastewater Treatment Operating Costs

(1998)

Our company is evaluating a wastewater treatment plant at a major plating facility that produces chromate and cyanide waste streams. The existing wastewater pre-treatment plant costs approximately CAN$250,000 per year to operate including all labour, parts, maintenance and disposal charges. Using the range of wastewater flows experienced over the past few years, this yields a unit wastewater treatment cost of between CAN$1 and $2 per cubic meter.

I would like to know how this compares to other treatment plants out there. Is this cost high, low or typical? Have any benchmarking studies been done?

Ted Barton, P.Eng.
Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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Correct me if I'm off, but I think your costs translate to about $0.004-0.008 per gallon.

We run a small plating operation and I have estimated that our total costs per gallon are about $0.015. This cost includes all disposal expenses. We recycle all rinse water with ion exchange. The columns are regenerated off-site. We drum up all concentrates for off-site disposal, too. All hauling and TSD is by a USEPA-permitted contractor. There is practically zero labor with our system and no capitalization except for a couple of small sump tanks, three pumps, some piping, and a storage tank (less than $2000 total to set up).

We don't have to deal with any discharge monitoring or chemical additions, so we don't need a trained waste treatment operator. We get to focus on plating and not worry about staying in compliance. Maybe we pay more than you do, but I think it may be worth it.

I look forward to hearing from others!

Bill Vins
microwave & cable assemblies
Mesa (what a place-a), Arizona

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Up to a point I would agree with you, Bill. It's good to "focus on plating and not worry about staying in compliance" as long as it doesn't degenerate to the point where you become oblivious to waste.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

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I work for a company that does waste treat and water recycling. We see costs between 7-9$/kgal USD for traditional treatment and 3-5$/kgal when recycling rinse waters.

Bill Banham
- Newbury, Ohio - USA


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While I know there seem to be a lot of success stories regarding recycling of water, I would take a hard look at the numbers before going down that road. In many areas of the country, water is still cheap, much cheaper than it is to recycle it. Also, if you are a job shop and don't have control over the oils and compounds dripping from your incoming work, watch out. Many of these organics instantly clog up very expensive membranes and resins.

Recycling equipment will be another critical piece of equipment in your plant. If it goes down, you may have to shut your production down. Sewers almost never break down. Personally, I think that recycling water is best suited for three types of operations:
1) Very small shops who might be able to totally forgo a discharge permit. Without a permit, these shops may be overlooked those occasional times when the floor drain or lab sink becomes a little too tempting.
2) Captive shops, including circuit board operations, who have total control over their unplated material.
3) Large companies who feel that public image and potential liability outweigh the dollars and cents involved.

Finally, I would be careful of only soliciting advise from people affiliated with companies involved with water recycling. I don't mean to imply in any way that they are dishonest. Only that it's a little like asking an insurance salesman if you need more insurance.

I know there are water recycling success stories. However, if you are considering recycling, I would consider the points listed above.

Ken Rosenblum
finishing shop - Minneapolis, Minnesota


September 24, 2010

We send our wastewater (about 16 MGD) to Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant where they treat the wastewater through advanced primary process and discharge the effluent into an ocean outfall. Our cost is about $1.00/gallon. Does this cost seems reasonable to you? Have you got any response from other major city about their wastewater treatment cost? or do you know of any web site that lists wastewater treatment cost?

Jamal Naji
- City of Chula Vista, California

April 27, 2011

If you are discharge 20 MGD and paying $1/gal. that means you are paying $20 Mil/day. That can't be right. Anyway I am not sure what the normal cost is, but own is around $2.00 per 1000 gals.

Steve Wells
Guam Waterworks Authority - Harmon, Guam, USA
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