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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive (Wastewater Treatment)

by Mike McGinness, Emissions From a Phosphating Dip Line
March, 2003

Waste Treatment Costs

Q. I am a graduate student at the Univ. of Colorado looking for cost information on treatment of industrial or mining wastewater to removal heavy metals. I need this information for a feasibility study I am doing for a class. Specifically, I am looking for benchmark cost ranges for pretreatment of metals-contaminated water to discharge specs for heavy metals (such as Cobalt, Copper, Lead, Chromium, Mercury, Cadmium, and Nickel), using industry standard processes (such as activated carbon or liming). Any information you have on cost ranges for wastewater pretreatment, transport of sludge costs, disposal costs, and capital investment costs for such treatments would be greatly appreciated.

A. Treatment costs can vary widely from $.01 to $1.25 per gallon. Capital costs can vary from $0 (if hauled off as waste water at 20 to 40 cents per gallon) to millions of dollars for the capital costs of a system to treat on site for $.01 to $.05 cents per gallon of operating costs (not including depreciation), and depends on the actual waste stream flow rate (max and average), as well as the actual pollutants and their concentrations. Each situation is almost always different.

I have seen numbers for sludge that vary widely depending on the actual content (contaminate mix and concentrations) and what part of the country they are in. I suggest picking number between $300.00 and $1,200.00 per 55 gallon drum (figure 500 lbs per drum average).

I suggest making some assumptions (such as $.30/ gallon for 100% haul off to use a design basis) or ask a local plater for his actual costs to use as your model.



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