Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Walt Erndt, Vice President & General Manager Municipal Market, CRANE Pumps & Systems, about the wastewater challenges to anticipate in 2017 for the pump market.

What trends and challenges do you foresee in wastewater?

Capital investment requirements (in) the U.S. wastewater systems are estimated to total almost $300 billion over the next 20 years. Pipe repair represents the largest need to address combined sewer overflows (CSO). There is roughly 800,000 miles of sewer mains in the United States, and many of these pipes are over 70 years old and in terrible shape.

The aging sewer pipes are the main cause of combined sewer overflows. During heavy rain events, the capacity of a combined sewer may be exceeded by the infiltration of rainwater through the failing pipes. When this occurs, diluted untreated human and industrial wastewater, mixed with stormwater, is discharged into lakes and rivers. This CSO discharge during a rain event is required to prevent back-flooding into homes, businesses and city manholes.

In lieu of repairing their existing combined sewer overflows, many municipalities are beginning to separate combined sewers into purely sanitary sewers and separate storm sewers. Separated sewers are especially suitable in areas where irregular, heavy rainfall is expected. During these periods, stormwater runoff can be managed separately and stored for the dry season. When new systems are built, most municipalities prefer to construct a separated system to prevent future combined sewer overflow.

As wastewater separation continues, manufacturers supporting municipal wastewater systems will need to design their products to support more viscous wastewater with less volume flow.

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