By Alex Wright, ClearCove Technology Solutions Manager

Food & Beverage (F&B) processors today typically generate a high strength stream of process wastewater from their operations containing organics (Biological Oxygen Demand or BOD), solids (Total Suspended Solids or TSS) and other nutrients. Most processors currently send this wastewater down the drain to a municipal wastewater treatment facility. As this high strength waste stream requires energy, chemicals, manpower and capacity to treat, municipalities levy a hefty surcharge on processors to offset this cost as well as fund future upgrades of their facility. While often justified, these surcharges place a heavy burden on the processors that limits their competitiveness, profitability and growth potential.

A sewer surcharge is typically calculated using a formula that applies predetermined rates based on the concentrations of BOD, TSS, Phosphorous and flow (the volume of water). The rates will vary based on geographical location. However, BOD and TSS typically account for the lion’s share of a processor’s surcharge. Surcharges can often amount to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars per year.

Sewer surcharges have long been seen as a cost of doing business, with few options available for cost effective surcharge reduction solutions that provide a healthy return on investment. Thankfully, the ClearCove® ClearCapture® technology provides just that – a surcharge reduction solution that provides a rapid return on investment.

The ClearCapture® technology enables processors to significantly reduce or even eliminate their BOD and TSS surcharges. In addition, the ClearCapture® solution can produce reuse quality water, minimizing the volume of water discharged to the sewer, hence reducing flow surcharges. ClearCove® customers are currently realizing surcharge savings with the ClearCapture® system, with a typical ROI between two and five years—probably the best payback in the wastewater treatment world today.

One ClearCove® customer, an Illinois-based dairy processor was faced with surcharges on BOD, TSS and flow of $150,000-$200,000 per year, even with a smaller flow of 30,000 Gallons Per Day (GPD). The installation of the ClearCapture® P1400 system has enabled the processor to completely eliminate its surcharges associated with BOD and TSS, resulting in savings of $100,000-150,000 per year. The installation also provides the opportunity for water reuse, which could reduce the remaining flow surcharge.

With larger operations, larger flows and surcharges can be expected. One such example is a dairy processor located in Northern California with a flow of approximately 140,000 GPD. Despite having an existing Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) unit, the facility currently pays approximately $800,000 per year in BOD, TSS and flow surcharges to their local municipality. The installation of the ClearCapture® P1400 would again completely eliminate the BOD and TSS surcharges for the facility. In addition, the P1400 system enables water recovery of over 90%, resulting not only in a significant reduction in flow surcharges, but also savings on water consumption. With this approach, the facility stands to save approximately $1,000,000 per year in wastewater surcharge and water consumption costs.

Surcharge costs continue to increase each year across the country as municipal wastewater infrastructure ages, water becomes scarcer and energy goes up in price. The ClearCapture® technology provides one of the most tangible and impactful methods for reducing costs to improve operations and profitability.