Remove sand, grit, and lime material from wastewater treatment facilities

PREVIOUSLY UNREMOVABLE MATERIAL REMOVED IN EAST FLORIDA


Before and after photo of wastewater treatment plant cleaned by U.S. Submergent Technologies
BTU Structure at East Florida plant before and after material was removed.

Sand, grit, lime, rags, sludge, and other wastewater residuals had accumulated over time in two large East Florida BTU structures, reducing the wastewater treatment plant’s overall capacity. Due to the challenging nature of the material, previous companies had been unable to clean the structure. A buildup of lime sludge was the main issue the facility was facing, and the material was described as having the consistency of “slightly dried out play-doh.”

The cost of Sand, grit, lime, rag, and  sludge buildup for wastewater treatment plants

Lime sludge material found in wastewater treatment structure cleaned by U.S. Submergent Technologies
Lime sludge material found in structure at East Florida plant.

A buildup of material in a tank such as this has the potential to cause several issues, including reduced treatment capacity and wear and tear on equipment.  A drain-down and confined space entry was necessary in order to efficiently access the material. 

Each of the facility’s above-ground BTU tanks measured at 113-feet by 130-feet, with 17-foot high walls. The Combination Truck’s powerful vacuum was used to remove sand, grit, lime, sludge, and rags without any issues.  USST’s vacuum delivers nearly double the CFM of a standard vacuum truck, allowing the crew to remove large amounts of wastewater residuals and complete the job quickly and on schedule.  In total, 842-tons were removed from the combined structures quickly and safely and disposed of offsite, minimizing odor concerns.

“Lime in particular is one of the hardest materials to remove from a structure,” reflected USST Foreman, Michael Kisling. “I’m proud of the performance of our experienced crew members and thankful we have equipment versatile enough to adapt to anything we encounter.”

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck can remove any material from wastewater facilities

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck cleaning wastewater facilities while in operation
Combination Truck at work.

USST’s Combination Trucks are more than just a simple vac truck.  Equipped with powerful vacuum, downhole pump, jetter, and extended-reach boom, they have the ability to clean in wet or dry conditions in up to eight different setups without bringing multiple pieces of equipment to the jobsite.

Call one of our knowledgeable project advisors for a free site assessment or to ask any questions you may have at (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com. Check out our video to learn more about the Combination technology.

How the Combination3® Truck cleans pipes and tanks in service

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT?

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck ready to clean pipes and tanks in service
USST’s Combination Truck

In a word, Gravity!

The Combination3® Truck is a unique, ambidextrous tool that allows us to clean pipes, tanks, and a variety of other structures while in operation. It can vacuum using suction and pump using positive pressure, as well as perform jetting. Here, we’re going to examine the differences between traditional technology versus the powerful capabilities of the Combination3® Truck.

Let’s take a look at how traditional vacuum technology works

Vacuum technology has been around for 50-years and is typically the first tool called upon for cleaning most pipes and tanks. A vacuum uses the flow of air to move debris into the debris box.  In a dry environment, this approach works well. Vacuum technology begins to be less effective with the presence of water. As the amount of water increases, the effectiveness of removing debris such as sand and grit becomes less effective. This is because water is lighter than the debris to be removed. As a result of this natural consequence of gravity, the debris box fills with water. Essentially, the vacuum moves the lighter material first. This is especially true for large diameter pipes. As pipe diameter increases, the flow of water also increases exponentially.

How does the CombinationTruck work differently?

The Combination Truck can overcome vacuum limitations by switching to the pumping mode coupled with a pressurized debris box. This process, known as the GritGone Process®, provides the ability to minimize or even eliminate the amount of water hauled off-site. If a tank or pipe can be cleaned while in service, the amount of water to be hauled off is minimized.

Ironically, the more water found in a structure while cleaning means less water to be hauled offsite.  “Wait! What?”, you may ask yourself. Let us explain further. If the pipe or tank is full, the Combination Truck uses water instead of air to move the debris.  In other words, vacuum uses air to move whatever is in its path and both water and debris travel into the debris box and remain when the air leaves. Conversely, when water is used to transport debris to the debris box, only the debris remains in the box since the water leaves.

Let’s not forget about the limitations of tank depth and height

In addition to the struggle with excessive amounts of water being sucked into a debris tank, another limitation imposed by gravity is pipe depth or tank height. A typical vacuum can suck, or pull up, and is effective up to one atmosphere of pressure, roughly 30-feet. When using the pumping capabilities of the CombinationTruck, the pump can ‘push’ the water and debris significantly more than 30-feet. When considering the height of a typical vacuum truck, this essentially means the limit of effective vacuum is about 20-feet below ground. Once depth becomes an issue, the force of gravity simply cannot be overcome by vacuum suction.

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck reaching over tank walls to perform cleaning while in operation
USST’s Combination Truck reaching over tank walls to perform cleaning while in operation.

Benefits of cleaning in a wet environment

An added benefit of cleaning while in service, or wet/submerged cleaning, is the elimination of potentially hazardous confined space entry, creating a safer work environment for crew members. If conditions allow, the CombinationTruck can clean both tanks and pipes while in service, reducing or even eliminating the need for confined space entry and avoiding potentially costly bypass.

A combination of services that can be performed in full operation

Uniting the unique cleaning capabilities of the CombinationTruck with the ability to see inside tanks and pipes is a powerful combination of services. When visibility is crucial to the job ahead, USST’s CCTV/sonar assessment and verification services allow us to see and verify the conditions of both tanks and pipes in real time while in full operation with no bypass or facility shut down. The CombinationTruck performs the cleaning portion of the job, as described above. Together, these tools allow USST to offer a unique approach to solving problems.

Learn more about USST’s new See, Clean & Verify services here.

360-Tons of Sludge Removal from Covered Digester

NITROGEN PURGE PERFORMED ON TANK TO LOWER EXPLOSION HAZARD PRIOR TO CLEANING

U.S. Submergent Technologies foreman removing material from a wastewater structure
Paul Del Favero, longtime USST Foreman.

Sludge and other wastewater residuals had accumulated over time in a Southeast Florida digestor, reducing its treatment capacity. Measuring 65-feet in diameter with 36-feet high walls, the tank was in need of cleaning which contained levels of methane due to the treatment process.

Methane buildup in wastewater tanks requires additional safety protocols

Methane buildup in wastewater tanks occurs naturally due to the treatment process and has the potential to be hazardous. A drain down of the digestor was necessary before work could commence. To create a safer environment for crew members and reduce the risk, a nitrogen purge was performed to displace the methane found in the tank.

Because confined space entry was needed to access and remove material, USST crew took extra care to monitor air quality levels, maintain proper ventilation, and check gas meters.

“We take care to follow all safety and compliance procedures when entering a confined space,” said Charles Harrington, USST Foreman. “We got in there safely and were able to remove large amounts of material quickly.”

U.S. Submergent Technologies crew removing sludge and wastewater residuals from a digester.
USST’s Oba Carter, checking the roll off.

How U.S. Submergent Technologies removed 360 tons of sludge from a covered digester

The Combination Truck’s powerful vacuum was used to remove sludge and wastewater residuals without any issues.  USST’s vacuum is powered by a blower capable of delivering nearly double the CFM of a standard vacuum truck, allowing the crew to remove large amounts of material and complete the job quickly.  In total, 360-tons were removed from the structure, ready for offsite disposal.

USST’s Combination Trucks are more than just a simple vac truck.  Equipped with a powerful vacuum, downhole pump, jetter, and extended-reach boom, USST has the ability to clean in wet or dry conditions in up to eight different setups without bringing multiple pieces of equipment to the jobsite. Learn more about the structures we clean here .

Have a challenging situation that needs attention?  The Combination Truck makes restoring treatment or collection capacity easier than you think.  Call one of our knowledgeable representatives at (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com.

402-Tons of Sand and Grit Removed from Oxidation Ditch While In Service

NO DRAIN DOWN REQUIRED TO CLEAN OUT YEARS OF BUILT UP MATERIAL IN CENTRAL FLORIDA WASTEWATER FACILITY

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck’s extended boom and downhole pump reaching and removing material from an oxidation ditch
USST’s Combination Truck’s extended boom and downhole pump reaching and removing material from oxidation ditch.

An oxidation ditch at a Central Florida Wastewater Treatment Plant was in need of cleaning, having built up a significant amount of sand and grit.  The facility’s treatment process is comprised of a Type 1 Oxidation Ditch operating as a conventional activated sludge treatment facility measuring 320-feet by 70-feet.

How U.S. Submergent Technologies removed sand and grit from the tank without performing a drain down

USST Foreman, Michael Kisling, led the USST crew through the project from start to finish, utilizing the powerful Combination Truck and GritGone Process® to tackle the job. The truck’s extended boom and downhole pump were used to reach and remove sand and grit from the tank without having to perform a drain down.

“One of the advantages of our equipment that makes it so unique is that we can remove very large amounts of material while the whole facility remains in operation,” said Michael. “Plants don’t have to shut down or alter treatment flow, and we can reach and remove material quickly.”

Another advantage of using the Combination Truck to perform the cleaning is that confined space entry was not needed. The facility saves time and money by avoiding confined space work and crew members benefit from a lower risk jobsite.

Sand and grit removed from oxidation ditch without drain down
Sand and grit removed from oxidation ditch.

With the GritGone Process®, the sand and grit is separated from the slurry for disposal while the water is returned to the oxidation ditch for treatment. USST can dispose of more material at a higher production rate without the added weight of water.

In total, approximately 402-tons were removed from the structure, the equivalent of 141 fully-loaded F-150 trucks!  The material was disposed of offsite, restoring much needed capacity to the facility.

U.S. Submergent Technologies’  crew performing sand and grit removal services
USST crew performing sand and grit removal services.

Need a structure cleaned quickly or have a facility that must remain online?  USST is well-equipped to perform sand and grit removal from both wet or dry conditions and can do so at a higher production rate than most vacuum trucks.  Learn more about our tank capabilities here. Give one of our representatives a call for a free site assessment at (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com to learn more.

Regular maintenance of a utility’s large-diameter pipe prevents emergency situations

WHY EVERY CITY & COUNTY UTILITY SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR COLLECTION SYSTEM & THE CHALLENGES OF CLEANING LARGE-DIAMETER PIPE

U.S. Submergent Technologies crew cleaning large diameter pipe in Tampa, Florida
USST Crew cleaning large diameter pipe in Tampa, FL.

Water and wastewater collection and treatment processes are largely out of sight, out of mind. Our society often takes this infrastructure for granted and is largely unaware of what’s happening below their feet, even though every person in this country uses it every day at home or at work.

Large-diameter pipe (LDP) is generally treated the same way throughout our industry; we don’t see it regularly, so we assume it is functioning properly. LDP infrastructure is primarily only cleaned or rehabilitated when issues arise, such as overflows or collapse that force attention. Once an emergency situation arises, utilities typically scramble to solve a large and complicated issue that they are unprepared to handle, exacerbated by the fact that large-diameter pipe is difficult to clean under flow while in service.

Managing Flow in Large vs Small Diameter Pipe

Large-diameter pipe is generally described as 24-inches in diameter or larger. Typically, utility systems have regular maintenance plans for smaller pipe systems 18-inches or smaller that involve a vacuum-only approach. Because of the smaller size of the pipes, cleaning this infrastructure is routine and often managed by the utilities themselves.

Flow in smaller pipes is significantly less than flow in large diameter pipes and is usually managed with vacuum technology. As an example, the capacity of a 6-inch diameter pipe compared with a 60-inch diameter pipe is 100 times greater, even though the difference in diameter is only 10 times larger. This reality is often missed because LDP comprises less than 5% of a collection system. These larger flows create challenges because of the amount of water that must be managed and possibly bypassed, when cleaning is required.

To clean large pipe systems under these conditions is challenging. Bypass is expensive and may not be a viable option. But regular maintenance of these larger systems is crucial to the health and preservation of collection infrastructure both short and long term.

One of the main roadblocks to cleaning LDP is managing flow. A simple vacuum cannot handle this type of project. A vacuum will produce little to no productivity when attempting to utilize it under heavy flow, compared to utilizing it with smaller diameter pipe under significantly less flow. The bottom line is if there is too much water, vacuum technology may not be as productive as when there is less water present.  Historically, when LDP needs to be cleaned, the pipes are either bypassed or blocked, sometimes using inflated devices, to block the water from flowing into the section of pipe being cleaned. The cleaning is then accomplished using confined space entry.

USST technology, equipment and skilled crew can clean LDP under full flow, while in service, and remove significant amounts of material at a high production rate, without the need for bypass or diverting flow. As one of the only cleaning processes in the nation that can accomplish this task, we stand ready to assist utilities to restore their collection system capacity. You can read more about USST’s large diameter pipe capabilities here.

USST’s technology can help determine if your large diameter pipes need cleaning

Regular maintenance of a utility’s large-diameter pipe will prevent emergency situations as well as maintain the designed capacity. Let us show you how it works by signing up for our Eyes in the Pipe Webinar to learn more about the technology USST is introducing and how to get visibility into your utility’s collection system. Reserve your spot today.

Have questions? Call (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com.

Cleaning Sand and Grit From Wastewater Treatment Structures In Operation

39-TONS SAND AND GRIT REMOVAL PERFORMED ON DIGESTER

U.S. Submergent Technologies’ Combination3® Truck with extended boom removing sand and grit from Florida wastewater treatment facility while in operation
Combination Truck with extended boom at work removing sand and grit from Central FL facility.

Cleaning sand and grit from a digester at a wastewater treatment plant

A digester at a Central Florida Wastewater Treatment Plant was due for cleaning, having built up an accumulation of sand and grit. The structure was cleaned in operation with the aid of funding from Florida’s Sand & Grit Grant Assistance Program. See if your facility is eligible for similar funding by reading more about the program here .

Measuring 100-feet in diameter with approximately 18-feet high tank walls, the digester was cleaned using the versatile Combination Truck. Due to the size of the facility, the structure had to be cleaned while remaining in full operation. No bypass or shut down was necessary to remove the material and no confined space entry was required to complete the job due to the adaptive technology of USST’s equipment and skill of the crew members.

Led by USST Foreman Charles Harrington, the crew utilized the Combination Truck’s extended boom and downhole pump to remove sand and grit while navigating around coarse air diffusers found on the bottom of the tank.

“This kind of precision cleaning is difficult to accomplish while a structure remains in operation,” said Charles. “Our technology makes it possible to clean around diffusers without doing damage at a high rate of production.”

Digester cleaned by U.S. Submergent Technologies at Central Florida wastewater treatment facility
Central FL digester.

Efficient sand and grit removal freed up capacity at this wastewater treatment facility

Approximately 39-tons of sand and grit was removed from the digester and disposed of at an offsite facility. Spent biosolids lingering at the bottom of the tank were also removed, emulsified, and returned to the tank for treatment and/or processing, thereby freeing up additional capacity.

Need a structure cleaned quickly or have a facility that must remain online?  USST is well-equipped to perform sand and grit removal from both wet or dry conditions, while in operation, and can do so at a higher production rate than most vacuum trucks.  Give one of our representatives a call for a free site assessment at (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com to learn more.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Florida’s Sand & Grit Grant Program

As you may or may not be aware, Florida has funding available through a grant assistance program for qualifying utilities to remove sand and grit from their facilities. We’ve got answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Sand & Grit Grant Program below.

Paint-filter dry sand removed from a structure while in operation.
Paint-filter dry sand removed from a structure while in operation.

When did the program start?

The program began in 2014 and is administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) developed to assist wastewater treatment plants in the removal of sand and grit to increase capacity, reduce energy use, and improve effluent quality.

How do I qualify?

Your facility must be a public utility with an average annual daily flow of 3MGD or under, and a portion of the plant must remain online during removal.

What is the process?

A simple, 1-page information sheet must be filled out; once it has been submitted to the FDEP, they begin to draft the grant agreement.

How much funding can I receive?

If eligible, your facility will be reimbursed 50-100%. There is no limit to the amount of funding your facility can receive through the grant program.

How many structures can I get funding for?

As many as needed that qualify. There is no limitation to the number of structures you can clean under the grant program as long as all qualifications are met.

How soon can I get reimbursed?

Typically within 30-days of invoice submittal to FDEP.

Have more questions? Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives to learn how this program can potentially benefit your facility by calling (941) 404-3405 or emailing info@ussubmergent.com.

Stormwater Box Culvert Cleaned in Both Wet and Dry Conditions

300-FEET OF BLOCKAGES REMOVED INCLUDING WOOD, LAWN CHAIRS, YARD DEBRIS & MORE

 USST's Combination3® Truck
USST’s Combination Truck

After experiencing a series of overflows in a residential area, a West Florida city was looking to clean up a severely blocked stormwater box culvert.  Due to a fluctuating tide schedule creating a surcharged environment, the stormwater structure was cleaned in both wet (high tide) and dry (low tide) conditions.

Paul Stephenson, one of USST’s experienced Foremen (read more about Paul here!), led the USST crew on the project, cleaning more than 300-feet. 

“Having our Combination Truck allowed us to get everything done in one go,” said Paul. “We used a number of setups to remove material with one truck, including the vacuum, downhole pump and jetter, depending on whether the tide was in or out and the resulting conditions in the structure.”

The USST crew utilized the downhole pump and jetter when water was present in the structure to remove sand and grit and switched to vacuum to remove remaining material during dry conditions. In total, 12-yards were removed and disposed of at an offsite city facility.  Lawn chairs, wood, and yard waste were some of the larger debris removed from the structure.

Debris removed from Stormwater Box Culvert.
Debris removed from Stormwater Box Culvert.

There was minimal intrusion into the surrounding neighborhood during the project due to the closed loop cleaning system of the Combination technology, which meant less odor and noise for nearby residences.

“This was one of the more challenging projects I have had the privilege of leading,” said Paul. “We were fortunate to have the technology necessary to be able to react to situations as they arose and accomplish this job efficiently.”

Reach out to one of our Project Advisors to learn more about USST’s specialties in removing material from hard-to-reach environments.  Call (844) 765-7866 or email us at info@ussubmergent.com.

60-Yards of Tough Rag Material Removed from Splitter Boxes

MASSIVE BUILDUP OF RAGS, DEBRIS, AND EVEN METAL HANDRAILS FROM TWO STRUCTURES

Rag material removed from splitter box structure.
Rag material removed from splitter box structure.

Access issues had prevented two splitter box structures at a South Florida wastewater treatment facility from being thoroughly cleaned in years.  A large amount of accumulated rag material had built up over time, and the structure was experiencing significantly reduced capacity.

The two structures in question consisted of an Auxiliary Secondary Clarifier Distribution Chamber with dimensions estimated at 30-feet by 45-feet as well as a Secondary Clarifier Distribution Chamber measuring approximately 40-feet by 40-feet.  These two structures function as splitter boxes for a secondary clarifier at the facility and serve to split flow from the clarifiers to oxidation tanks.

USST Crew at work at South Florida facility.
USST Crew at work at South Florida facility.

“A drain down was necessary to evaluate and perform maintenance on the structures,” said Michael Kisling, USST Foreman on the project, “but once the water level was lowered, it was clear that the estimated 6-to-8 feet of rag and debris material was going to be difficult to remove.”

The top level of the structures had been cleaned over the years, but rag material had built up due to the depth and position of the debris.  The USST crew developed a crane attachment to be used with the Combination Truck’s extendable boom to reach and remove the difficult material.  Without the innovation of the crew and technology, the quantities of material would not have been possible to access. 60-yards of rag material in total was removed from the site, including other debris such as pipes and even a full-sized metal handrail.

Metal debris removed from structure.
Metal debris and rag material removed from structure.

“It was a surprise every time we pulled the crane out of the structures,” said Michael. “We never knew what we were going to find next!  I’m proud of the way our crew handled the tough project and the creative way our crew solved the problem.”

If you find yourself with an issue that seems unsolvable, give us a call, we love a challenge!  Contact us by calling (844) 765-7866 or email info@ussubmergent.com with any questions you may have or share a comment below.

Shout Out to Critical Workers in the Wastewater Field

SCROLL DOWN TO LEAVE A POSITIVE MESSAGE OR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR FELLOW INDUSTRY FRIENDS

Eric Pace, Paul Del Favero, & Charles Harrington from the USST Family
Eric Pace, Paul Del Favero, & Charles Harrington from the USST Family

As we navigate this unprecedented situation together, we want to recognize the essential work being done by our customers, suppliers, business partners, and so many others working to keep vital infrastructure flowing.  The work you’re performing in the wastewater and water sectors is critical to maintaining quality of life for our communities throughout this pandemic and beyond.

While social distancing has required temporary measures to limit physical interactions, it doesn’t change the passion and respect we share for the work we do as industry friends.

Join us in cheering on our fellow wastewater and
water co-workers.

Leave a positive message, a note of encouragement, recognize anyone you know who has gone above and beyond, or simply drop a line letting us know how you’re coping in the comments below.  We’ll share the shout outs on social and in our next newsletter.

We are committed to staying positive, as well as practicing the highest health and safety standards throughout these circumstances, and we’d genuinely like to hear how you’re doing.

From all of us at USST, we appreciate your role more than ever, respect the critical work you are performing, and are happy to contribute wherever most helpful.

Sincerely,

The USST Team