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It’s natural to try to reduce expenses at your facility and look for the cheapest wastewater treatment methods. While the treatment itself is vital, you also have a budget to consider, so you need to think about how you can limit the cost of your operations. Read on to learn more about how this can be achieved.

Defining ‘Cheapness’ in Wastewater Treatment

On the face of it, the idea of ‘cheapness’ is pretty simple – whatever costs you the least money is the cheapest. While this is true, there’s more to think about here. Wastewater treatment is a results-oriented process. You need to make sure that the effluent that flows out of the treatment facility meets regulatory guidelines. If your facility is the final stage of treatment before the effluent is released to the local water table, this is particularly important, but anyone who engages in wastewater treatment, at any stage, needs to be aware of effluent quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements a range of guidelines and regulations regarding wastewater effluent. Even if you are only pre-treating your wastewater before releasing it to a municipal facility, the quality of the effluent is important. The EPA’s guidelines specify that industrial and commercial wastewater must meet certain standards before it enters a municipal facility, and business owners and pre-treatment facility managers assume responsibility for this.

In other words, the cheapest wastewater treatment technology is not just the technology with the lowest cost – it needs to be effective too, meeting your specialized needs. Bear this in mind when you consider the cheapest wastewater treatment technologies available to you.

6 Low-Cost Treatment Options

Let’s take a look at some low-cost treatment options you can use within your own wastewater setup. Bear in mind that these treatment methods might not be appropriate for all types of wastewater or for all industries. Make sure you are aware of the nature and chemistry of your own wastewater so you know which methods you can deploy.

Imhoff Tanks

The Imhoff tank takes its name from its inventor, Karl Imhoff. Imhoff originally produced the tank in his native Germany but brought the design to the United States in 1907. The tank combines the sedimentation and sludge digestion of water treatment in a single tank, split into two chambers. The upper chamber handles the liquid effluent that flows into and out of it, while the solid sludge slides down the sloping walls of the tank and drops into the lower chamber.

While the Imhoff tank has largely been superseded, its simple design makes this a viable cheap wastewater treatment option. It is also a better option than the septic tank design that preceded it. As a result, Imhoff tanks are still found in some wastewater treatment applications around the USA.

Wetland Systems

Phytodepuration is an important concept for those considering cheap wastewater treatment options. This essentially means the “intentional use of a plant to remove toxins from soils, sludges, sediments, surface water, and groundwater.” One of the best ways to achieve this is through a wetland system.

After the wastewater has passed through the settling tank, it enters a wetland area. Within this wetland area, organic plant life is cultivated to assist with the digestion of the waste. At the other end, cleaned effluent can be released, while residual waste is pumped back to the beginning of the wetland for recirculation. These wetlands may be specially constructed or may be natural, but they must be regulated to prevent untreated waste from escaping from the controlled environment.

Pond Systems

Another cheap wastewater treatment option is a system of ponds. Wastewater enters the first pond, where the sludge is drained off. The wastewater then enters a second pond, which fills until the least dense liquid at the surface of the pond overflows into the third stage – the maturation pond. Here, a filter provides a final stage of cleaning before the effluent enters the outflow channel.

Facilities with larger volumes of wastewater can also use this system, although the larger ponds are generally referred to as lagoons. As ponds and lagoons require less investment in infrastructure, they are generally lower-cost options than other treatment types.


Adsorption is the process of transferring atoms or molecules from a liquid substance to a solid surface. The value of this transfer in wastewater treatment is clear – it can remove traces of heavy metals and other harmful materials at the molecular level.

Deploying adsorption within a wastewater treatment facility does not need to be expensive. You can use materials such as sawdust within a filtration device, completing the adsorption process. It’s important to understand the specific types of molecules and atoms you want to remove, and to select the adsorption material accordingly.

Sand Filtration

Filtering wastewater through a relatively low-cost material such as sand can be a viable treatment method. Sand is useful in removing pathogens from the water as it passes through, but – as with the adsorption method mentioned above – you may need to research the pathogens you are working with and utilize appropriate filtration media to remove these.

It may be necessary to use other methods alongside the sand filtration. For instance, chlorination can be used to further remove pathogens from treated water without increasing the cost too much.

Limestone Treatment

While limestone treatment is not a standalone water purification method, it does have its uses. When wastewater comes into contact with limestone, its pH is raised, reducing the acidity of the eventual effluent.

If you have been experiencing issues with acidity in the wastewater, running the water across limestone slabs may be valuable. However, you will probably have to use other methods alongside the slabs before the effluent is of a quality that can be released.

Reducing Costs and Boosting Efficiency

Here at Chemtech, we are committed to helping our customers reduce the cost of wastewater treatment without cutting back on efficiency and efficacy. Take a look at our wastewater treatment product range and find solutions that will help you optimize your treatment facility and the quality of your effluent. To learn more, reach out to our team today.