According to CBCP, India generates 72,368 MLD wastewater against 31,841 MLD treatment capacity. In addition, STPs are concentrated in larger cities, and CETPs are unevenly distributed across the states. As a result, with poor wastewater management, a large amount of untreated water is released into rivers and lakes.
However, modern wastewater treatment plants are capital-intensive and require innovative technologies. Because of the capital concerns, the government shifted its focus to solid waste, sludge, and greywater management under Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0.
Wastewater treatment plant’s cost depends on factors like pollutants, equipment, labor, maintenance, and stages of treatment.
In how many stages is wastewater treated?
Pre-treatment involves the removal of large particles from the wastewater. The cost of water treatment depends on the number of particles that contaminate the water.
- Primary treatment
Primary treatment notices other pollutants, and several methods are available for it. Different primary treatment methods are applied depending on the quality and quantity of contaminants and the goal of purity.
- Secondary treatment
Here microorganisms break down organic compounds through anoxic, aerobic, or anaerobic methods. It is an essential step in water treatment and municipal sewage treatment plants.
- Tertiary treatment
It involves extra filtration, which is often used by industries like pharmaceuticals, food and beverages as they produce more hazardous wastes. However, other sectors might not need tertiary treatment and can save money.
What are the basic wastewater treatment plant costs?
- Planning costs
The planning of wastewater treatment plants includes analysis of regulatory requirements, site-specific challenges and objectives, engineering costs, and many other factors. The rate of these costs depends on the project’s goals and obstacles. Moreover, planning permission and regulatory approvals usually require application fees.
However, a prepackaged system will make the planning more manageable and reduce the relevant costs.
- Installation costs
Installation costs include charges of a professional installer and an electrician for installing an electrical system. In addition, professionals ensure the efficient performance of the equipment. If the facility’s location is at high groundwater conditions, the expense of concrete increases.
- Regulatory costs
Regulatory requirements vary for different industries, locations, and wastewater contents, and it is crucial to meet all regulatory standards.
- Consultant services for obtaining permits incur fees along with the permit application charges.
- If the treated wastewater fails to meet the discharge limits, it results in high penalty fees and other legal actions.
- Authorities monitor and report the treatment facility, which requires time and resources during the inspection.
- Sometimes advanced technologies might be required to meet the compliance limits, increasing costs.
Though meeting regulatory requirements seem expensive, it is mandatory.
- Operational costs
The operation costs of wastewater treatment plants involve many factors and are complex to calculate, but its estimation is essential for the system’s long life. Some factors that influence the operational costs include,
- Water purity targets
- Operational staff
- Automatic systems
- Flow rates
- Disposing secondary waste
- Replacement of parts
- Maintenance costs
Preventive maintenance of the system is always beneficial to avoid breakdowns and unexpected downtimes. Some preventative maintenance measures are,
- Control panel adjustments
- Pipework inspection
- Auditing air blowers
- Part replacement and lubrication
- Availability of spare parts
In addition to preventive maintenance, annual maintenance is done by certified contractors. Here, AMC (Annual Maintenance Contrat) is always helpful to maintain the wastewater and municipal sewage treatment plants.
Why wastewater treatment and management is expensive?
Various factors influence the expense of wastewater treatment and management, which includes,
- Requirement of space
Many facilities require a larger area for installation, and purchasing land for its building might cost higher depending on the location. Moreover, high flow rates and multistage purifying mechanisms require vast land area.
However, investment in a compact and space-efficient technology is a smart move.
- Construction materials
The construction materials used in wastewater treatment plants are mostly of high quality because of the presence of hazardous chemicals, extreme temperatures, and high flow rates. As a result, the cost of construction materials increases. However, PVC pipes can be used in less demanding applications.
Although the construction materials are expensive, it saves future maintenance and repair costs.
- Shipment of system
Many things affect freight expenses, like,
- Distance of location
- Weight of the parts
- Fuel costs
- Toll fees
- Mode of transport
- Time to build a plant
The construction and installation of a plant can take months or years, depending on the system’s complexity. However, a more extended time increases the costs.
- System automation
Automation of the systems requires modern technology and state-of-art equipment, increasing the expenses. However, automated systems reduce the risk to humans, human errors, and labor costs.
If treatment systems are not complicated and consistent, manual operation is a cost-effective approach.
- Flow rates
Depending on the water use, flow rates can vary. For example, sewage flow rates in municipalities are higher in the morning and evening when people are home. However, higher flow rates increase the expense.
- Filtration expenses
Reducing costs when inexpensive filters are used increases the replacement rates, leading to even higher expenses. On the other hand, high-quality filters might seem costly but are beneficial in the long run, and long-term filtering costs must be considered.
- Purity goals
Another factor affecting the costs of water treatment plants is the purity goals, and facilities must meet regulatory standards. Hence, it is necessary to identify the contaminant threshold value. The requirement of highly pure water increases the cost, and investment in the right technology can mitigate operational expenses.
What is the average cost of a wastewater treatment plant?
The cost of a typical wastewater treatment plant may vary. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi concludes that the price for installation of a plant of 8-10 KLD capacity would cost around 2.5-3 lakhs.
When calculating the cost of a wastewater treatment plant, it is also essential to peek into hidden costs like taxes, connection fees for discharge, and the treatment cost of secondary waste. However, a wastewater treatment plant might be costly, but its expenses reflect the efficiency of pure water production.