Advanced Water Treatment to Increase Efficiency and Meet Environmental Standards

By Keith Armishaw, Business Development Manager, Aquajet

More and more, concrete repair contractors are turning to robotic hydrodemolition, and the reasons why are simple. The method provides faster, safer, and more efficient removal than traditional means. Recent technological advances have also made hydrodemolition machines more versatile, compact, and durable than ever before. But, one important question still remains, “What do you do with the wastewater?”

Environmental regulations are constantly changing as governing bodies and project managers step up to protect communities and ecosystems, leaving contractors to navigate safer, more efficient wastewater treatment options if they want to ensure continued work. For some, this means bulky, unreliable in-house systems that require a lot of oversight and space on already crowded jobsites. Others choose to hire third-party vacuum contractors to manage the process. However, this comes with a hefty price tag. Depending on the removal contactor, water vacuum collection and hauling services can cost as much as $0.15 per gallon for treatment alone. Add hauling and personnel fees and an operation could end up paying as much as $50,000 for water removal for a one-week hydrodemolition project. 

Many hydrodemolition contractors are finding that a water collection system paired with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) treatment equipment will keep government and environmental agencies happy and keep work coming.

To remain competitive, the most successful hydrodemolition contractors have turned to original equipment manufacturers for cutting-edge, on-site solutions that provide reliable, cost-effective water treatment. These systems are manufactured with a variety of features and differ in their treatment methods. Each uniquely affects the safety, efficiency and, ultimately, the profitability of a contractor’s operation. To optimize these benefits, here are some key considerations to keep in mind.  

Clear Difference

A close comparison of independent and OEM systems reveals that the biggest differentiator, aside from price, is the agent used for pH reduction. Aftermarket systems from independent manufacturers typically use mineral or citric acid to treat the water, which comes with safety risks and high operating expenses. 

One of the biggest downsides is mineral acid is dangerous to handle. Workers must have special training and wear special personal protective equipment (PPE) to work with the acid. Precision and control are also greatly reduced when using acid to reduce pH. It is easy for operators to accidentally take the treatment too far and acidify the water. This fact alone results in a necessarily slow and costly process.

While it eliminates the dust and noise pollution associated with pneumatic breakers, the wastewater created during the Hydrodemolition process has an increased pH level and high turbidity – cloudiness or haziness caused by the presence of a large number of debris particles.

Some advanced water treatment systems, on the other hand, use carbon dioxide rather than acid to neutralize water pH. With carbon dioxide it is virtually impossible to acidify the water. Plus, unlike methods requiring acid, carbon dioxide does not leave any hazardous byproducts. 

Treatment with carbon dioxide is also a fraction of the cost of acids commonly used for pH reduction. Treating with hydrochloric or sulfuric acid costs around four times as much as carbon dioxide. Citric acid? Nearly eight times more expensive.

In short, a system that treats pH with carbon dioxide instead of acid is much easier and far less expensive to operate. 

Certain hydrodemolition equipment manufacturers offer advanced water treatment systems that can offer safer operation, more reliable turbidity reduction, and more cost-efficient treatment than aftermarket units. 

Clear Results

With strict adherence to environmental guidelines being necessary for continued operation, though, overall success relies on not only treating the water, but proving it to stakeholders and other interested parties. Here again, OEM systems go above and beyond, providing detailed, real-time data. This information can be shared with project stakeholders to provide insight to the properties of the discharged water, including pH levels and the amount of water that was treated.

Clear Performance

In addition to safety and reporting capabilities, advanced water treatment systems can provide more robust performance than aftermarket systems, which are typically limited in their ability to treat for pH and reduce water turbidity. Many of these units reduce turbidity with filters or mechanical means, such as a cyclone. These methods are slow, inefficient, and expensive. 

Some advanced treatment systems use modern flocculation technology to effectively remove particles from the water, reliably reducing water turbidity to harmless levels. These sophisticated units can treat water much faster than aftermarket systems, greatly improving jobsite productivity. Efficient systems can process more than 5,000 gallons of water per hour, ensuring used water is treated quickly. 

Along with providing better treatment capabilities and higher capacities, advanced water treatment systems allow for easier setup, teardown, and transport. Industry-leading OEM options are available in a compact 20-foot container that can be operational in less than four hours, greatly simplifying the entire process and allowing contractors to complete jobs quickly.

Some advanced water treatment systems provide detailed daily reports that offer insight to the cleanliness of the discharged water, including pH levels and the amount of water that was treated.

Clear Choice

As hydrodemolition contractors look to remain competitive amid fluctuating environmental regulations, partnering with a cutting-edge manufacturer can provide a compact, cost-effective solution that increases sustainability – with the documentation to back it all up. Taking advantage of the latest water treatment technologies can give contractors peace of mind knowing their crews are operating within specifications and give them the edge they need to win their next bid.  

Sophisticated treatment systems use modern flocculation technology to effectively remove particles from the water, reliably reducing water turbidity to harmless levels. These units can treat water much faster than aftermarket systems – up to 5,000 gallons an hour – greatly improving jobsite productivity.

This material appeared in the November 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & EngineerConstructionConstruction DigestConstruction NewsConstructioneer,Dixie ContractorMichigan Contractor & BuilderMidwest ContractorNew England ConstructionPacific Builder & EngineerRocky Mountain ConstructionTexas ContractorWestern Builder