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Effluent -- a dirty word or a problem solved?

Effluent - a Dirty Word or a Problem Solved?

Privatisation of the water industry is nearly upon us, with the suggestion of improved quality and service being financed by both domestic and industrial users alike, and a determination to prosecute pollution offenders.

Are you as an industrial user aware of what can and will be happening? One thing for sure is that the costs of purchasing and disposal of water will rise substantially - it is suggested at the rate of 5 percent for the next ten years; and this figure is to be over and above inflation!

Have you therefore considered what will be required and what savings can be made within your particular process, involving water usage?

Complicated and 'high tech' systems are not necessarily the only method to be adopted or considered, perhaps a water recovery scheme?

Over the past twentyfive years numerous dairies, realising the cost benefits of water and heat recovery, have recycled water to bottlewashers and CIP equipment, plus hose points, such water having been recovered from the same washers and CIP system. The waste water, having been purified in a recovery plant designed by Mr A P L Wallis, now managing director of Waste and Water Management Ltd, shows savings of up to 90 percent of the water used and discharged to the drain in the traditional way. Payback on capital investment has been as low as eighteen months, rather than two to three years and the cost-saving curve is an ever increasing gradient upwards as water and effluent charges increase.

Sensible use of water is often talked about but never occurs. How often does a rinse water cycle run unattended? If so, why not install a simple shut-off system controlled by a good quality sensor, again this is not high tech or expensive.

Savings can, indeed, be made by the simple fact of knowing in true terms how much you are discharging, and this can be provided by a simple flow measurement system to produce a volume total, especially is this necessary if at the present you are charged on a mains water intake.

Water in product has little to offer in the way of savings but water purchased to produce product may have, ie, heating, cooling or chilling. How many times does one see leaking steam valves, with condensate, which has possibly been treated with expensive water treatment chemicals, running to drain.

Heat recovery from a variety of equipment or processes should not be excluded from considerations, for indeed you may need heat for a process at one end of the factory whilst at the other end heat is being thrown away via the draining system.

Cost savings incurred with the purchase, use and then discharge of water make up a considerable annual expense for medium to high consumers of water alike. Even small percentage reductions and savings produce significant financial benefits. One large area for consideration is in the treatment of effluent and its disposal.

Coping with both quality and quantity can be a headache and often requires the added cost of supervision. Costs created by the treatment system, treatment chemicals and supervision are often extremely high for many companies, not to mention the extra costs that can be faced due to 'out of consent' discharges. This may be followed by the risk of closure and fines imposed by your local Water Authority.

A leading manufacturer was faced with all these problems. A dedicated system to deal with the product's properties was designed and commissioned, in conjunction with others, by Analytical and Technical Services. It halved their effluent charges and eliminated arguments with the local water company.

Whilst the cost of investment remains high, the cost that is likely to follow without it on such items as treatment and control systems will be even higher, so why not act now and do not allow what is a simple problem to become a difficult one to resolve.

The author, Barry Hart, is managing director of Analytical Technical Services of PO box 644, Heathfield, East Sussex, tel: 04352 2676.
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Author:Hart, Barry
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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