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Wastewater Pump Stations — What Are They and What Do They Do

By December 7, 2021No Comments

Wastewater pump stations play an important role in managing water and sewage systems. Wastewater or sewage is mainly 98% water and is toxic if not treated before it is released into the environment or used as recycled water.

However, to treat wastewater, it needs to be transported to sewage treatment plants through a system of pipes, mains and pumping stations. Also known as lift stations, wastewater pump stations help transport wastewater, especially when it needs to move from low-lying areas into higher ground where gravity cannot help with the flow.

Types of wastewater pumping stations

Normally pumping stations are categorised in term of their size:

  • Pressurised pumping stations are small
  • Network pumping stations are medium-sized
  • Main pumping stations are large

How does a wastewater pump station work?

A wastewater pumping station is made up of a large underground wet well that collects wastewater from a building or group of buildings. The wet well is equipped with electrical instrumentation to detect the level of wastewater. Once the wastewater reaches a predetermined level in the well, a pump is activated which pressurises the sewage so that it travels upwards and out of the wet well and onto higher ground. Here, the sewage will collect with wastewater from other areas and enter the main sewer on its way to the treatment plant.

Most of the underground network of pipes and mains comprising the sewage system are gravity-fed. This means that wastewater travels to the treatment plant using gravity. However, wastewater pump stations will be required where gravity cannot be used to transfer sewage from lower areas to higher areas within the network.

Wastewater pump stations also help move excess fluid during times of peak flow and during the wet weather season.

How are wastewater pump stations maintained?

Wastewater pump stations are subjected to dirty streams of water, which can cause the system to break down or work less efficiently. Solid waste can cause blockage, while sludge accumulation can cause the pump to operate inefficiently, resulting in overheating, cavitation, vibration and ultimately pump failure.

Additionally, pump seals can deteriorate, leading to unwanted leaks of sewage and odour.

To avoid many of these issues and disruptions in the system, wastewater pump stations need to be monitored and maintained.

  • Most sewerage pump stations are equipped with remote monitoring systems which enables operators to keep track remotely.
  • Alarms fitted into the wastewater pump stations will also alert maintenance personnel of any problems within the system.
  • Operators also conduct periodic manual checks for any issues and to make sure the system is working efficiently.

Disadvantages of wastewater pump stations

While wastewater pump stations are necessary for water and sewage systems, there are some associated disadvantages:

  • The design and installation of the wastewater pump station needs to be done by an expert to ensure that the system is efficient and reliable. However, this expertise can be expensive.
  • The wastewater pump station uses electricity to run and although the electricity consumption is low, they still contribute to the overall expense compared to gravity-fed systems.
  • It may be difficult to source parts and materials require to install and maintain wastewater pump stations.
  • Although the systems are designed to reduce blockage, they can still occur.
  • Grease and fat build-ups can impact the efficiency of the system.

Have a commercial project and need information about wastewater pump stations and installation? Contact the wastewater engineers at Hynds.