Why wastewater treatment plants can’t solve our waste problem
A new report by the Environmental Working Group says the United States is losing billions of dollars in clean-up costs each year due to the massive wastewater treatment facilities that can’t treat sewage.
It’s estimated that by 2030, we’ll have spent more than $200 billion on wastewater treatment infrastructure, with many of those costs being borne by communities that can no longer afford the costs.
A large majority of the wastewater generated by the wastewater treatment industry is stored at or below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s “Safe Drinking Water” threshold.
As of 2019, EPA had spent just over $1 billion on the issue.
The report says that over the next decade, the cost of cleaning up wastewater generated in wastewater treatment operations will increase to $40 billion annually.
That’s because many facilities are already overstaffed, and they are often at risk of running out of waste, according to the EWS.
“Wastewater treatment is a complicated, time-consuming and expensive process that requires multiple people to perform the work, often at different times of the day and under varying circumstances,” the report states.
The report also points to the fact that, as a result of the federal Clean Water Act, more than 10,000 counties across the country have enacted strict regulations on wastewater disposal, limiting the amount of wastewater that can be used.
To solve the problem, the EWG proposes that wastewater treatment companies be required to pay for water treatment systems that are certified as being safe and capable of handling hazardous substances, such as pesticides, pathogens and chemicals.
Waste treatment facilities can also be required by state regulators to purchase certain hazardous chemicals, such for example, chlorinated chemicals.
The EWS argues that these new regulations would allow more wastewater to be treated at less costly locations.