We interviewed several California based companies who provide systems for flushable wipe issues.
This Q&A is with Erwan Ouattara, Executive Director at Aqualitec . We talked about their completely vertical Screentec bar screen.
1. When did your company first get involved in solving wipes problems?
In 2009, we got in touch with Mendocino Sanitary District which had trouble dealing with wipes. With no bar screen at their headworks, they were finding wipes all over the plant.
The wipes were especially damaging to the blowers. They were looking to install a bar screen, but had difficulties finding one because of the specific footprint – a deep and narrow vault.
2. Why is your solution the best at resolving the problem?
The wipes in the sewer system are a major issue. It’s a recent problem and decades ago pump stations were not designed to handle this type of debris.
Therefore, the structure is often deep and narrow.
The vertical bar screen Screentec helps resolve the wipes issue by collecting the debris. It retrofits any type of pump station without the need for costly structural changes.
It protects downstream equipment by removing the wipes.
3. Do you have a sample California wipes problem/solution case study you can share with us?
Yes, at the Mendocino treatment plant, all non-biodegradable materials had to be manually removed, or they would simply pass through the process or accumulate in points throughout the treatment facility.
Screentec was the only screening product that could match MCCSD’s technical requirements as well as their unique footprint constraints.
The unit had to accommodate a 12-ft deep headworks design, serviced by a small 8-ft manhole.
Screentec has required no service in the four years since its installation. Mendocino’s total bar screen maintenance costs over four years is $0.
4. How long has your company been based in California?
The vertical bar screen technology has been used in Europe for decades. We started to market California in 2009.
We looked at the market and saw that no vertical bar screen solution was available. We immediately saw Screentec could solve ragging issues at a very low cost.
It’s a perfect match for old designed pump stations dealing with ragging pumps problems.
5. What do you think is the future of the wipes problem for our profession?
A lot of effort and work has been made by our industry to get non-woven manufacturers to change their wipe composition.
We will end by having some wipes that will totally disintegrate in the sewer system. It will take years from now though, and in the end, the wipes are just one part of the debris causing problems in the sewers.
Public agencies are making a great effort in informing the public on what to flush, but they must continue to do so. Once the wipes issue is resolved, the industry will not need to deal with another type of debris in the future.