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Capacity expansion

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Water treatment plants are essential to ensure that the water we consume is safe and free of harmful contaminants. As the population grows and the demand for clean water increases, so does the need to expand the capacity of these plants. What does capacity expansion of water treatment plants mean, why is it needed and how it can be achieved.

What is capacity expansion of wastewater treatment plants?

Capacity expansion of wastewater treatment plants is the process of increasing the amount of water that can be treated at a plant. This can mean adding new equipment or upgrading existing infrastructure to allow for higher flow rates. Capacity expansion can be achieved in several ways, such as expanding treatment tanks, increasing the number of filters or adding new treatment technologies.

An existing treatment plant has a maximum amount of pollution it can handle. If the pollution load increases due to, for example, an increase in the amount of water discharged or an increase in pollution levels, the treatment plant may have insufficient capacity and an expansion is desirable/necessary.

Why is capacity expansion necessary?

As the population grows and the demand for clean water increases, wastewater treatment plants must expand their capacity to meet demand. Aging infrastructure and obsolete technology can also contribute to the need for capacity expansion. In addition, changes in water quality regulations may require treatment plants to increase their capacity to meet new standards.

Capacity expansion is essential because it ensures that enough clean water is available to meet community needs. Without sufficient capacity, wastewater treatment plants may struggle to meet demand, which can lead to water shortages or a decline in water quality. This can have serious public health implications, as contaminated water can cause diseases and disease outbreaks.

How can capacity be expanded?

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By removing part of the pollution as it enters the treatment plant with deployment of fine screening technology, the underlying treatment plant can still process the amount of pollution offered and no additional expansion of aeration tanks, for example, is necessary. By deploying finescreens, this significantly increases the capacity of the treatment plant.

There are several ways in which wastewater treatment plants can expand their capacity:

Adding new treatment technologies – New treatment technologies, such as membrane filtration or reverse osmosis, can be added to existing treatment plants to increase capacity and improve water quality.

Expanding treatment tanks

Treatment tanks can be expanded to capture more water and increase the flow rate through the treatment process.

Expanding the number of filters

Expanding the number of filters can increase the amount of water that can be treated at one time, increasing efficiency and reducing treatment time.

Improving existing infrastructure

Improving existing infrastructure, such as pumps and pipelines, can help increase flow rates and improve efficiency.

Building new treatment plants

In some cases, construction of new treatment plants may be necessary to meet demand and expand capacity.

Regardless of the method chosen, capacity expansion requires careful planning and consideration of factors such as cost, timing and community impacts.


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Capacity expansion of wastewater treatment plants offers numerous benefits, including

Improved water quality.

Capacity expansion can improve the quality of treated water by enabling more thorough treatment processes and reducing the risk of contaminants.

Greater reliability

Capacity expansion can improve the reliability of water treatment plants by ensuring that enough clean water is available to meet demand, even during times of high usage.

Economic benefits

Capacity expansion can have economic benefits for communities by supporting growth and development, attracting new businesses and creating jobs.

Environmental benefits

By expanding capacity and improving water quality, wastewater treatment plants can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the amount

Case Studies

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Through the deployment of the Cellvation technology, the cellulose is extracted from the sewage water, after it has been stripped of other pollutants that we encounter in the sewer. Thus, the cellulose (toilet paper), for which trees were cut down, is given a new chance after a one-time use!

The origins for this method of resource recovery lie a few years in the past. For the development of a certain type of water treatment, a membrane bioreactor (MBR), a requirement was to greatly reduce the amount of incoming suspended solids to prevent the membranes from clogging. At that time, several methods of suspended solids removal were compared, including rotary belt (fine sieve) technology. As a result of those comparative tests, this technology was then introduced in the Netherlands.

Treatment plant North Holland

An example is the fine screening plant at a treatment plant in North Holland.

Projections for the treatment plant showed that the biological load would increase by 20% until 2040. This did not apply to the hydraulic load, which could even decrease if paved surfaces were disconnected. In order to continue to meet the requirements and cope with the increased load, the capacity of the WWTP had to be increased. A variants study revealed two promising variants. A pretreatment step with fine screening on expansion of the biological capacity. Based on operating costs, sustainability, technology, management and maintenance, the fine screening variant scored better than the biological expansion variant and the decision was made to realize a fine screening plant. On 2016, the plant was officially commissioned. After a period of adjustment and optimization, a year-long monitoring study of the operation of the fine sieve installation and its effect on the WWTP was started.  

The influent pretreatment with fine screening at another treatment plant also resulted in a 10% capacity increase on the treatment line. This involved comparing two treatment lines (one with fine screens and the other without). The results of the determination of net removal efficiency, screened solids production, reduction of sludge production and reduction of aeration flow agree well with each other and confirm the rwzi capacity increase.

case studies

Stay in the Loop

17 April 2020 Stay in the LOOP Students at Berlin’s Fachhochschule Potsdam conducted research on the use, reuse and circular potential of toilet

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SMART Plant fact sheets

11 May 2020 SMART – Plant fact sheets As part of the Horizon2020 project SMART-Plant, fact sheets were prepared by Kompetenz Wasser Berlin

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Contact us

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Are you considering expanding the capacity of your wastewater treatment plant. If so, please feel free to contact us without obligation, and together we can see what the best options are for your operation.