Jobsite Water Compliance

Onsite Treatment Saves Time and Money

Understanding water compliance, as used on a construction jobsite, is critical for keeping projects on time and budget. Expected or unexpected water, and contaminants in that water, can potentially cause challenges, delays and a hit to the bottom line.

To put it into perspective, 20% of all groundwater samples have some form of pollution, and the fines per day for discharge can be hefty. Planning for water treatment and discharge onsite is an important step in avoiding those unexpected cost and keeping the worksite compliant.

There are several options for water discharge, including:

  • Hauling for offsite disposal – A solution that eliminates the need for a discharge permit. However, trucking delays can lead to intermittent flow capabilities, and volume restrictions can impact progress. It can also be more expensive for large volumes.
  • Controlled direct discharge – These discharges can be to a sanitary/combined sewer system or to the environment.  Since most of the associated costs are from the initial set-up, onsite treatment is more cost-effective with higher volume. 

Typically, anything over 10,000 gallons/day, for multiple weeks, is easier to treat onsite.  Handling volume in that range becomes challenging to haul offsite in terms of safety, logistics and environmental impact.

Permit Guidelines

Discharges to a nearby sewer system are an option, but only if the infrastructure is available. This type of discharge is typically conducted under the jurisdiction of the local, publicly-owned treatment works (POTW). Since the water goes to the treatment plant, the water quality criteria are typically less stringent. Although treatment is a less-intensive process onsite, POTW discharge can be an expensive permitting option due to the application fees and per gallon cost.  

Discharge to surface water or a storm sewer system is highly regulated, but the costs are typically lower than POTW and may not have the same flow restrictions. 

So what is the right solution?

The answer may depend on several factors, but the list of targeted contaminants continues to grow, and discharge standards are continually evolving. 

It is important to be aware of the water quality requirements and implement the right balance of equipment and technology. Planning is vital, and accounting for the right solution at the beginning of the project can save time and money.

Here are some considerations for the planning phase:

Can I anticipate water?

Consider the size of the jobsite and any seasonal precipitation. Both can have an impact on the volume and frequency of water onsite.  Don't forget the subsurface work, especially if it needs to be done below the groundwater table. And lastly, be sure to account for any activities that might generate wastewater, which may need to be treated and discharged.

What are the potential sources of contaminants?

A good first step is to check the geotechnical report for groundwater depth, which should help identify potential needs early on in the process. Also, see if the general area has a history of industrial, agricultural or landfill use, which will be an essential element to the solution configuration. Don’t forget to account for any activities that may generate Total Suspended Solids (TSS) or pH issues.

What are the outlet options for discharge?

Sanitary/combined sewer system to POTW, storm sewer, or direct discharge to the environment can be used, but it's important to understand each option's permitting requirements 

What is the right solution?

Every jobsite is different, and conditions can and may change – often. Talk through the options and permit requirements before breaking ground to keep schedules and budgets on track.

A support partner will be able to assist in helping to identify options for water treatment and discharge. When considering a partner, look for:

  • A diverse fleet of services to allow for treatment flexibility
  • A wide distribution network
  • Design and engineering support – from bidding to implementation
  • Account and market awareness to provide technical information throughout the process (including permit submissions)
  • Reliability and accountability 

Be sure to consider safety first and consult a fluid solutions professional. The solution should have the right technical performance to meet project objectives and be mobile enough to conform to site constraints. And, it should also be adaptive, reliable and cost-effective.

For more information or to get started on your onsite water treatment solution, contact the United Rentals Fluid Solutions team


green tank at a jobsite on a sunny day
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