What Makes a Good Pretreatment Program?

By Dr. Larry Moore, UT CIS Consultant

A good pretreatment program is one that protects the city’s wastewater collection system and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) from the wide array of pollutants that can be discharged in industrial process wastewaters.

Some industrial pollutants can damage the collection system (primarily related to corrosion/human exposure issues). Some industrial pollutants can cause interference/inhibition of biological processes at the WWTP, interfere with land application of WWTP biosolids, or contribute to toxicity when the WWTP effluent is discharged to the receiving stream.

The local pretreatment program properly controls these potentially harmful pollutants by establishing appropriate local limits/requirements, by properly implementing federal pretreatment regulations, by requiring adequate pretreatment where necessary, and by ensuring that industries comply with pretreatment regulations.

The pretreatment program must accomplish the objectives noted above while making sure that industries are treated fairly. For example, local ordinances/limits must be developed using sound decision-making and technical procedures that effectively protect municipal wastewater infrastructure and operations; however, they must not be so restrictive that they burden industries with unnecessarily stringent requirements. Overly stringent pretreatment limits and unjustified requirements may cause compliance problems for industries, excessive investment in pretreatment systems, and/or other regulatory burdens in situations where no adverse impacts on municipal wastewater facilities are occurring or are anticipated.

In addition, sewer user charges must be reasonable while at the same time covering the true cost of constructing/operating wastewater facilities and running the pretreatment program.

In other words, pretreatment programs should create a compatible and mutually beneficial relationship between the city and its industries. Adversarial relationships are bad for the city and the industry; no one wins in that setting. Each party must be willing to work with the other party in a spirit of cooperation. The ultimate goals are to provide efficient wastewater management, to regulate industries equitably, and to sustain high-quality streams and rivers. 

Are you interested in participating in a pretreatment training? UT CIS wants to build a training around your needs. Please consider taking this two-question survey so that we can identify the topics that would have the most impact for your organization. 

About Dr. Larry Moore

Dr. Larry Moore has been a UT CIS resource since the early 1980s. To date, he has provided industrial wastewater consulting services to more than 200 UT CIS industry customers statewide. Dr. Moore has also helped more than fifty students gain important career-building experiences through the University of Tennessee system.

UT CIS, among many others, consider Dr. Moore as a go-to engineering and technical expert with the other departments of University of Tennessee, as well as local and state government organizations. 

Dr. Larry Moore


Tags Environmental Management