3 reasons why H2S is a rising problem in sewer systems

Centralization, sustainability, and efficiency trends present benefits to the environment and society – but they also act as a catalyst to the hydrogen sulfide problem. Here are three factors that explain why the hydrogen sulphide problem will increase in the years to come.

1. Wastewater treatment is being centralized
In the western world, wastewater treatment is increasingly being centralized on large, energy efficient treatment plants while smaller plants in the countryside are shut down or converted to pumping stations. Although there are many upsides associated with this efficiency trend, as treatment processes are improved and costs are lowered, it also negatively impacts the hydrogen sulfide issue. As more and more wastewater is pumped over increasingly longer distances, the production of hydrogen sulfide will inevitably also increase, and more odor and corrosion problems will occur in the sewer network.

2. Rainwater is separated from sewage
Many countries are moving away from combined sewer systems and are instead opting for separate sewer systems, where rainwater and wastewater is collected and transported in separate sewer lines. While this trend has several benefits, it also negatively impacts the hydrogen sulfide problem. Without rainwater to dilute the sewage and keep it flowing, there is a greater risk that stagnant water will cause odor problems in the collection system.

3. Less water is being consumed
Environmental sustainability is trending as households and industries are becoming better at conserving water. In the US alone, water consumption dropped 9% from 2010 to 2015 according to a study by USGS. Even though this trend is highly positive, a decreased water flow in the sewer system impacts pumping processes, which in turn causes more hydrogen sulfide to be produced when the hydraulic retention time inside the pressurized systems increase.

Although these trends provide numerous benefits, they all unfortunately accelerate the hydrogen sulfide problem. The good news is that the odor and corrosion issues can be managed – but only if the right H2S insights are available when critical decisions are to be made.

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