In Australia & New Zealand, extreme weather events — such as droughts, heavy rainfall, and flooding — are growing in frequency and the impact of such events have certainly increased in severity. Just over the recent summer, heavy rainfall led to flash floods in many areas along the east coast in February, right after months of high temperatures and one of the country’s worst bushfire seasons. Such unexpected events can severely impact water quality and create challenges for water and wastewater treatment facilities.
The effects of extreme weather events on water and wastewater
Droughts and floods can adversely affect drinking water quality, water security, effluent quality, and the frequency of untreated overflows. Water and wastewater treatment systems have to cope with fluctuations in the levels of contaminants, with extreme weather events bringing about high levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total suspended solids (TSS), algae, as well as turbidity. These contaminants can also cause taste and odour issues with the drinking water supply, as well as a decrease in the quality of potable water if treatment systems cannot adapt to the changing influent conditions. As such, plants may chalk up a higher operating cost and an increased risk of equipment failure. Floods also expose plant operators to the risk of untreated overflows in wastewater plant networks due to sewer or plant overload and the resulting effluent quality can also be affected.
Tackling the challenges
Plant operators will do well to prepare ahead for the challenges that come with these extreme weather conditions. An increasing number of utilities are now conducting assessments to understand the risks that systems encounter with the growing intensity and frequency of droughts and floods. Typically, plant operators would use these assessments to develop strategies for the long-term — a much-needed shift from merely responding to emergencies. These strategies would include plans to bolster the resilience of treatment systems and possibly redesign plant infrastructures, as they may no longer be adequate to handle today’s needs, given the shifts in climates and its unprecedented impact on water cycles.
To address long-term needs, operators should consider adopting flexible and efficient treatment systems to treat water and to cope with the load variations in surface water quality. Wastewater treatment processes must also have the capacity to handle storm overflows efficiently, even with sudden flow or load variations. It is imperative for utilities plant operators in Australia & New Zealand to consider robust solutions that offer flexibility and adaptability to maintain operation over a wide variety of influent conditions.
A robust and versatile solution to future-proof your operations
Veolia’s patented Actiflo® is a compact process for high rate clarification that can help water and wastewater treatment plants increase operational efficiency — drought- and flood-proofing the plants — while reducing the operating costs involved. With over 1,000 installations worldwide, the Actiflo® solution has a proven track record, not only for effectively clarifying feed water with high turbidity and TSS, but also for treating a multitude of different water pollutants, including algae (where up to 99% of total algae can be removed effectively).
Veolia’s Actiflo® is a patented high-performance water clarifier that is both versatile and resilient — perfect to help safeguard water treatment processes from the effects of drought and flood in a single installation.
The Actiflo® solution can be added as a pre-treatment step in drinking water plants, or as an effective primary, tertiary, or sidestream treatment in wastewater treatment plants and networks. In addition, Actiflo® is capable of treating flash floods of water quality levels varying from 1000 NTU to 30 NTU, and can maintain a steady drinking water supply that measures less than 5 NTU. The high degree of operational flexibility offered by the Actiflo® makes it an ideal water clarification technology to meet drinking water treatment needs regardless of weather conditions.
Preparing a water and wastewater treatment plant to be resilient in extreme weather conditions can be daunting, but the solutions and expertise needed to succeed already exist. Plant operators can tap on Veolia’s comprehensive know-how to weather-proof operations in severe conditions and achieve high standards of reliability, safety, and quality.