A Closer Look at Traditional Sludge Reduction Methods: Dredging and Hauling

Sludge is a notorious problem for treatment lagoons. Biosolid accumulation is a big contributor to the excess sludge posing serious challenges for wastewater treatment (WWT) operators. Traditional solutions involve dredging lagoons, hauling excess sludge away for dewatering, and occasionally becoming a useful biosolid. While typically effective, hauling and dredging is as much hindrance as help to wastewater operations. Costs of dredging and hauling are on the rise, and there’s growing demand for cheaper, more effective solutions to sludge removal in the lagoon environment.

The old standard for dealing with sludge

Flocculation is an integral part of the wastewater process, but bulking events and heavy floc take their toll on treatment lagoons. The resulting sludge hampers the efficiency and effectiveness of lagoons, which strains overall WWT operations. Sludge removal can account for as much as 40-60% of total operational costs, and most of these costs are consumed by dredging and hauling.

While dredging and hauling are effective means of dealing with sludge — and can produce somewhat usable biosolids — associated costs are climbing with each passing year. The rising cost of fuel, for instance, is reaching new heights in 2021 and adding more to the cost of transporting sludge every year. Add in increasingly higher disposal fees, and the inability of nearby landfills to accept organic material, and the financial burden of dredging and hauling is increasingly untenable.

Dredging and hauling are also “events.” Dredging and hauling the sludge from a wastewater lagoon requires administrative time to orchestrate. Both have added inherent costs and only serve to heap more demand on WWT operators and their staff. All this is not to say sludge-produced biosolids aren’t somewhat useful and necessary. They absolutely are, but it’s often WWT operations footing the bill  while other sectors — namely agriculture — reap some marginal benefits. More often, this practice comes at significant environmental expense as sludge landfills grow in size.

A sludge management approach for the future

Dredging and hauling represent an old standard, and more wastewater treatment facilities are thinking proactively about sludge. Instead of worrying about how to deal with it, they’re looking for ways to prevent it — or at least keep it to a minimum. And they’re finding their answers in custom microbiology.

A natural microbiological treatment approach using common soil microbiology presents multiple sludge mitigation opportunities. When the approach to sludge is both proactive and customized, it dramatically reduces the disruptive potential of sludge. Properly applied in WWT operations, it results in a significant reduction in operating expenses (OPEX).

Microbiology as a gateway for cost savings

Each wastewater treatment facility has a distinct microbiology environment. Even a small skew in the aggregate bacteria profile can change the entire microbiome. Considering this fact, it’s difficult to spot the positives in arduous, labor-intensive, old-fashioned solutions — such as dredging and hauling sludge. A turnkey microbiology delivery system, on the other hand, presents significant — and exciting — opportunities.

An internet search will yield numerous examples of the impact made by bioaugmentation. Each demonstrates a significant opportunity for cost savings in sludge mitigation, prevention, and removal.

An evolving industry demands an innovative approach

As long as current WWT methods persist, sludge will remain part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. If you’re faced with relentless sludge bulking, or heavy floc causing problems in your system, deploy a microbiological solution designed to prevent excess sludge. It’s a proactive approach to controlling sludge rather than a continuous reactive approach to an ever-increasing problem.

To learn more about the positive, environmentally friendly, and sustainable implications of a microbiological approach to wastewater sludge, contact EnBiorganic Technologies today. Let us introduce you to our EBS-Di turnkey solution designed to address sludge and other common WWT challenges in your unique effluent environment.

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