Effects of Environmental Change on Water Treatment Processes

Steven Rumble, General Manager Project Delivery shares FILTEC’s experience on an interesting project that was completed last year. This project raises an important issue that should be considered when an organisation is designing a water treatment plant – the rapid change of environmental conditions due to extreme weather conditions.

FILTEC completed a water treatment plant for a dairy factory in Australia to treat water sourced from a river for dairy production. 

Unfortunately, after a few months of smooth operation, a storm caused unprecedented major flooding events and permanent destabilisation of the raw water catchment, with 25 to 50 times increase in raw water suspended solids, colloidal matter and turbidity in the river under average operating conditions. The existing water treatment plant was pressured with the drastic change in water quality, resulting in increased operation cost, wastage and operator involvement to remain in operation.

Understanding the cause and issue, FILTEC acted quickly to find a resolution, designing a pre-treatment plant to remove the additional load on the water treatment plant. The pre-treatment plant consisted of a lamella clarifier and associated chemical dosing to coagulate and separate the colloidal solids. The project was taken from concept to an operating pre-treatment plant in less than 12 months. In addition, there was no interruption on the existing water treatment plant. Now the dairy production line runs smoothly with the operation of the pre-treatment plant to remove the solids loading, and the existing water treatment plant to treat high purity water for the whole dairy plant operation.

“Interruption and changes in water treatment plant operations is something we are seeing more frequently due to environmental changes and intensification,” says Steve. “the dairy project is just an example of what we are seeing in the industry and it is not uncommon to need additional equipment or processes to ensure the treated water is fit for purpose.”

Businesses and councils should consider the potential change in environmental conditions when building a water treatment plant. As per the project mentioned, the water treatment plant was built to treat river water turbidity of up to 50 NTU, with the added pre-treatment process it can now handle 25 to 50 times more load than the original plant. Environmental issues are causing drastic changes in the water sources around us. Examples can be increased turbidity due to storms and floods, change in water source due to drought or bush fires, change in water quality due to earthquakes. As a response to these changing environmental conditions FILTEC has several packaged systems available for pre-treatment to help solve your problems. Water as a resource is ever more in demand, changing environmental conditions has increased the challenge to make water safer. Be prepared!