How A Perfect Storm Is Accelerating The Growth Of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment

Perfect Storm

Thanks to a confluence of demographic trends, decaying underground infrastructure and advances in wastewater treatment technology, decentralized wastewater treatment is booming like never before.

Decentralized wastewater systems convey, treat and dispose or reuse municipal and industrial wastewater from small communities and industrial facilities. Instead of being piped to a large, centralized treatment plant, wastewater is treated at a smaller facility closer to its source of generation.

Demographic trends

In many parts of the U.S., decentralized wastewater treatment is booming, because a growing percentage of the population is moving to rural areas. Decentralized management of wastewater already serves almost one-quarter of the U.S. population. Another one-fourth lives in urban areas with less than 50,000 inhabitants. The wastewater they generate is usually collected and treated in small, centralized treatment plants.

Today, the majority of new development in U.S. cities occurs at the outer edges. As cities grow larger and larger, it becomes less feasible to connect new developments with the existing urban sewer network. As a result, decentralized collection and treatment systems have become the norm for new suburban housing developments.

Crumbling infrastructure

In many areas, the underground pipes used to transfer wastewater from homes and businesses to existing, centralized wastewater treatment plants are aging and deteriorating. Because they constitute a “hidden” problem, many large municipalities haven’t done as much to upgrade or replace them as they should. In many cases, they lack funding to do so. Because urban sewer systems are already at or over capacity, it’s impossible to further burden them with wastewater from growing suburban areas.

Advances in Decentralized wastewater treatment

The development of new wastewater treatment technologies allows for compact, decentralized wastewater treatment solutions. They are unobtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing than the large, “fragrant” aeration ponds of wastewater treatment plants built during the 20th century. That means they don’t face as much “not in my backyard” resistance as large facilities do.

Small and decentralized wastewater treatment presents unique opportunities for water reclamation and reuse. They can produce “gray” wastewater that is reused for crop irrigation, toilet flushing and other non-potable applications, as well as pure potable water for drinking, cooking and other forms of human use and consumption.

How the Aquarius Nebula MultiStage Biofilm System fits in

Aquarius Technologies, LLC (Aquarius) offers the Nebula MultiStage Biofilm System. It uses a proprietary plug flow process with multiple stages to progressively biologically treat the wastewater. Each treatment stage is filled with stationary biofilm media and provides a unique environment for growing different microbial populations. Successive stages of biofilm media create separate microbial living conditions and food sources within the process, resulting in a highly effective food chain.

Because Nebula is modular, it can grow with the surrounding community. For example, it could start out with four modules, producing gray water for local reuse. As the surrounding community grows, its fresh water needs could be met by adding more modules to the multi-stage biofilm system (for a maximum of eight).

In addition, this wastewater treatment system can be installed in concrete (poured or precast), steel, fiberglass tanks / basins, so it can be sited in a location where it fits in with the natural surroundings, or can easily be “hidden” with trees.

Finally, the Nebula MultiStage Biofilm System requires little or no maintenance and produces up to 80% less organic sludge than other forms of biological wastewater treatment. That makes it ideal for a distributed application adjacent to a housing development or a factory.