Complying with environmental regulations is the number one reason why industrial processors around the world contact ADI Systems for on-site wastewater treatment advice. Wastewater must be properly treated in order to meet strict effluent guidelines.
The Dangers of Improper Wastewater Treatment
Industrial wastewater from manufacturing processes and commercial enterprises can contain "conventional" pollutants such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), fecal coliform, pH, and oil and grease. It can also contain harsh materials such as residual acids, metals, and toxic chemicals.
When wastewater is improperly discharged into water sources, this harms the environment by deteriorating water quality. Decaying organic matter in wastewater can use up the dissolved oxygen in the water, and excessive nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) can over-fertilize receiving waters. Both of these factors endanger ecosystems, fish, other aquatic life, and humans. Water pollutants can seep down and affect groundwater deposits, negatively affecting the use of water for drinking, household needs, recreation, fishing, transportation, and commerce.
Discharging untreated or inadequately treated wastewater also damages companies’ pocketbooks and their reputations. Companies that are not in compliance with environmental regulations can face steep fines. The penalties vary depending on whether the violations are “negligent” or “known.*” But industrial processors are advised to heed warnings, as fines can range anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars.
What are Effluent Regulations?
Effluent guidelines are regulated standards for discharging industrial wastewater to surface waters and publicly owned treatment works (municipal sewage treatment plants). To develop realistic effluent regulations, factors such as pollutants and flow variability are studied, then mandatory minimum effluent quality standards are established in order to maintain water-quality standards.
Environmental regulations differ depending on the industry and geographical location of the production plant. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, established the Clean Water Act (CWA), one of the most significant environmental regulations ever enacted, in response to growing national concern for the environment. The CWA establishes the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
Environmental compliance can be defined as conforming to this type of environmental law, regulation, or standard. However, many companies want to go beyond compliance in terms of environmental impact, and aim to achieve an ambitious—but not impossible—“zero waste” goal.
The Role of Wastewater Treatment in Protecting the Environment
To address the above concerns, industrial wastewater needs to be responsibly treated to remove as many contaminants/pollutants as possible, including inorganics and organics.
Wastewater treatment technologies improve and purify the water used during manufacturing, so it can be safely discharged back to the environment—or, better yet, reused within plant operations. In short, properly treated wastewater ensures that acceptable overall water quality is maintained.
To learn more about the value of treating wastewater at your facility,
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*Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/criminal-provisions-clean-water-act, https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-water-act