Lagoons Do It Better is our belief, our motto, and our mission. In the following brief video, Patrick and Brady detail what we at Triplepoint mean when we say “Lagoons Do It Better,” and why we say it.
Challenging conventional wisdom
Lagoons are one of the oldest and most common wastewater treatment technologies, and it’s estimated that 1/3 of U.S. facilities include a lagoon as part of their treatment process. Lagoons are especially popular in smaller communities because they are relatively inexpensive to build, especially where land is readily available; low maintenance; and simple to operate. They just work.
However, as state regulators begin enforcing effluent limits for nutrients like ammonia and phosphorus, many lagoon operators feel their only option is to replace their otherwise adequate lagoon system with a mechanical plant. Although lagoons were designed to treat BOD and TSS and not nutrients, it’s possible to add processes that will allow a lagoon system to meet stringent effluent levels for ammonia and phosphorus, at a fraction of the cost of a mechanical plant. Because while the capital costs of building a mechanical plant are substantial, that’s just the beginning—it’s also important to consider the higher power consumption and need for an operator with the proper certification.
Construction costs are just the beginning
Mechanical plants are not just expensive to build–they’re also expensive to operate and maintain. Last year, a small western town with a population of less than 3,000 cut the ribbon on their brand new, 200,000 gpd mechanical plant. The $5 million price tag was financed largely by grants, with the town taking on a $1 million loan to pay the rest.
A public works official with the town related to us that the ongoing costs are unmanageable: In addition to the loan payment, the town is also facing a monthly power bill of over $3,500–more than $40,000 per year. Furthermore, they have been unable to locate an operator with the required certification level to run the plant for the available salary. For a town with a small user base, that level of investment is unsustainable. “Be careful what you wish for,” said the town official. “Everyone was happy that we qualified for funding to build the plant, but we’re finding it requires more people, money, and power to operate, none of which we have.”
Lagoons Do It Better: Removing Contaminants
It turns out that lagoons–especially aerated lagoons—matched or outperformed treatment plants at removing some of the most common wastewater contaminants.
Studies evaluating various wastewater treatment technologies for their ability to remove contaminants like pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have demonstrated that lagoons do an adequate job removing most PPCPs and, for some compounds, outperform mechanical plants, and at much lower capital and operational costs. Read our blog, Removing Wastewater Contaminants: Lagoons Do It Better, for details and links to the studies. In fact, because PPCP removal is tied to retention time, it may be possible that mechanical plants will have to add lagoons in the future to meet contaminant limits.
Lagoons Do It Better: Join Us!
We believe in lagoons: It’s all we do. We believe that this effective, sustainable method of wastewater treatment should be preserved. That’s why we’ve been developing resources to help wastewater operators and engineers rehabilitate existing lagoon systems to meet modern effluent requirements as cost effectively as possible.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you’ll be first to know we’ve added a new video. Check out our current library, where we tackle topics like aeration, ammonia removal, algae, and instrumentation. Visit our Triplepoint Environmental YouTube Channel for case studies on lagoon systems we’ve helped to Do It Better.
Join our Lagoons Do It Better Facebook group, which we’re developing as a place where operators can meet to ask questions and access resources.
Become part of the Lagoons Do It Better community! Register on our website so we can keep you up-to-date with new resources and events and send you your own Lagoons Do It Better camo hat!