Ramping Up for a Season Influx or Working Through Lockdown; Starting, Maintaining and Ramping Your Wastewater Plant

Remote resorts often have to provide their own wastewater treatment systems; we have many amazing resorts in wilderness areas, specifically remote from hectic city life.

Due to the nature of their business, these resorts will generally have high and low seasons leading to some plants having a rapid and drastic change in population. Some are discharging to such a sensitive environment (e.g. world heritage areas, national parks), and these plants need to be carefully started and ramped up prior to the high season to ensure that there is no disruption in final effluent quality as the population increases and the load comes on. Disruption in quality can lead to fines from the environmental regulator and reputational damage.

During ramp-up, the treatment plant will almost always need to be operated in an artificial food source; a mixture of chemicals that approximate raw sewage.  This is usually a carbon source (sucrose/sugar is typical) a source of nutrients (ammonium phosphate fertilisers, dosing of urea and phosphoric acids, etc.) and a source of co-factors (magnesium, calcium, iron; blood meal or blood and bone can be useful for this).

Sewage treatment processes however are designed to operate based on sewage; operating them on an artificial food source can be difficult as the process is more sensitive and prone to upset.  This requires care on the part of the operators and a good ramping plan.  A good ramping plan allows sufficient time to get the process going, but also seeks to minimise the time the plant runs on artificial food.

Good operators are also vital here, as finding problems early and addressing them is very important.

We’ve helped clients plan out ramps, helping them shorten down and optimise the ramping process, to good success.

Now however we have another problem; unpredictable lock-downs caused by pandemic.  This plays havoc with the tourism industry, locking potential domestic tourists at home.

Not only does this hit the resorts bottom line it also interferes with the wastewater plant we’ve spent the last 3 months getting up and running.

Having a plan in place to address the disruption from lockdowns is vital to maintaining effluent quality.  Adding an EPA fine on top of the loss of revenue from a lockdown is something no one needs right now.

Exactly how to deal with this will depend on how long the lockdown is likely to be.

If it’s short (like a week or two) you can maintain artificial feeding of your process.  If it’s longer term you may need to look at just ramping the process down for the season.

Without a crystal ball, you’re most likely to have to do the first one for a month or so, which can end up being expensive from a chemical point of view.  Slowing the process down can help to reduce cost here.  This requires knowing or working out how far you can reduce feeding while maintaining the plant sufficiently to allow for rapid start-up.

Some crystal ball gazing can be helpful here though, having an idea of how quickly you’ll get swamped when lockdown ends, helps you plan any re-ramping that may be needed.

We’ve helped out clients with both ramping planning and working out how to deal with lockdowns, helping them save money in chemical dosing while keeping their plants ready to go.


Need help? Reach out to  the Simmonds & Bristow team on 1800 620 690 or take our Tune Up and Water Infrastructure Assessment here – https://www.simmondsbristow.com.au/water-plant-repairs-and-refits/.