How Low Capital Investment in Wastewater Systems Waste Money
All too often we pay attention current costs, ignoring future expenses—and savings. Municipalities and consultants do the same thing when considering investing in a wastewater pumping system, thinking about the short-term costs rather than thinking about factors that could dramatically affect operating costs and improve performance. Such short-sightedness costs you more over the long-run.
Most people only think about capital costs. But there is more to a project than construction costs, design, permitting, level, and land purchases. Those are just the upfront costs it takes to get a project completed. They are not the costs of running the system, which will include labor, energy, chemicals, waste disposal, and other factors.
If you want a more accurate picture of your system’s true cost over time, you need to conduct a life-cycle cost (LCC) calculation. This will include not only capital costs, but also the costs of on-going operation, maintenance and repair, and “end of life” costs. This will help you decide what systems will be best for your municipality, as the demands on a system will vary based on population and kinds of industries being served, or for your factory, since the kinds of wastewater being produced will vary by industry.
When considering LLCs, it’s important to determine the appropriate time period over which to conduct the evaluation. Too long, and you may not account for changing conditions, regulations, or needs; too short, and it may skew the analysis in favor of lower capital cost options. Remember that the lowest-cost system may not be the one with the lowest capital costs, especially if expansions will be needed in the near future. Being truly fiscally responsible means thinking about long-term costs.
Because so many factors are involved, wastewater treatment is complex and almost always requires custom solutions. Failing to treat wastewater correctly can result in thousands of dollars in fines from violating local, state, and federal regulations. This is a potential cost few people consider when planning what system to install. It makes no sense to “save” $50,000 only to get a $100,000 fine and then have to make $50,000 in changes anyway!
Energy costs can account for as much as 30% of water and wastewater treatment plant operation and maintenance costs. Pumping systems account for nearly 25% of all industrial, and more than 50% of municipal water and wastewater industry electricity consumption. Pump system optimization can reduce energy costs by 20% or more. A pilot test can help you determine likely energy costs for your LLC analysis.
It is important to understand the costs of wastewater management, and to work with an experienced expert to tackle your unique challenges. A LC calculation can provide you with a more accurate picture of the true cost of a new wastewater treatment system and help you design and select the most cost-effective choice.