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Integrating Sustainability, Digital Connectivity and Design Optimization in Wastewater Treatment Systems

Howard Nichols, Christopher Bond, Chris Harvey, Sreeni Kota and Victor Medina | June 20, 2022

Some organizations rarely think about water and wastewater treatment, until there is a problem. American industry depends on the ability to treat wastewater discharges while complying with regulatory standards and addressing emerging contaminants. If wastewater treatment fails, our environment is negatively impacted, and companies are exposed to shutdowns, delays and fines.

Whether your concern is uptime, regulatory compliance, environmental footprint/energy efficiency, emerging contaminants, Operations, Maintenance and Monitoring (OM&M) or leveraging the internet of things (IOT) to enhance your connectivity, TRC has the experience, capability and reputation to keep your system operational. Our team can evaluate your wastewater treatment system for the following key components:

Sustainability and Optimization

  • TRC can evaluate your treatment system and estimate the environmental footprint, which encompasses the energy use for system operations, materials brought to the site and consumed in the treatment process, the destination and disposal point for the treated water and any air emissions that occur during treatment. We use the US EPA Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Assessment (SEFA) to develop these assessments.
  • We identify options to optimize the treatment system for operational efficiency, O&M cost reductions and more by proactively incorporating modifications and upgrades.
  • Our experts can conduct a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) on your property to assess potential risks from climate change, ranging from increased flood or wildfire risks, potential for strong storms and power interruptions to potential water scarcity that may warrant treated water reuse for industrial processes, surface or groundwater replenishment and watershed restoration.
  • TRC can perform risk assessments to identify and upgrade aged treatment unit processes and components to head-off critical equipment failures and make repairs or replacements according to your schedule.

Reliability and Connectivity

  • Wastewater treatment systems typically have NPDES discharge standards to achieve, which can become difficult as equipment ages or as the up-stream process is altered. We can evaluate and propose improvements to ensure reliability in meeting the discharge standards.
  • By identifying critical failure points in the treatment train, TRC can upgrade and/or install redundancies to ensure the treatment system will be always operational.
  • Replacing aged relay-based controls by upgrading to Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) operations can provide more flexibility and data gathering from all over the system during operations for trend analysis and further system enhancements.
  • We help clients improve communications by adding telemetry systems to send notifications of alarm conditions, along with the causes for shutdowns, which saves time and reduces repair costs because the responders can diagnose the problem and come with the proper equipment to make repairs on the first visit.

Emerging Contaminants and Environmental Justice

  • New and emerging contaminants continue to be identified and added to permit requirements. TRC can evaluate the presence and fate of these contaminants in the wastewater streams, design and perform appropriate treatability studies and propose alternatives to address these contaminants with the existing treatment system or modified/upgraded system. This can help you plan equipment or process retrofits on your own schedule.
  • Whether it is microplastics, or any one of the per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), we can identify the best technology to remove those contaminants from your effluent.
  • As Environmental Justice (EJ) is incorporated into legislation and regulations, some facilities located in overburdened communities may see their permit requirements become more stringent, especially with air and surface water discharges. TRC has the knowhow to navigate EJ requirements and reduce emissions as needed.

It is great to be a part of a company making an impact on the world in so many ways. From the TRC reshoring initiative to wastewater treatment, our experienced team of subject matter experts are working to make positive impacts every day. Our work within TRC’s Wastewater Center of Research and Excellence (CORE) Team gives TRC great opportunities to collaborate with many of our subject matter experts (SMEs). This collaboration across disciplines and various market segments differentiates TRC from our competitors when it comes to operating and managing wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure, keeping our clients in regulatory compliance and supporting their business continuity and operational efficiency.

TRC would welcome the opportunity to have one of our SMEs evaluate your wastewater treatment system to ensure it is performing to design specifications and achieving the desired performance in terms of compliance, operational efficiency and O&M cost effectiveness. We have the expertise to treat various industrial wastewater streams from operating facilities to contaminated groundwater from legacy industrial operations—we can keep the water flowing.

Contact one of our experts below to learn more about how TRC can help.

Howard Nichols, PE

Howard is an environmental engineer with a 20+ year career focused on soil and groundwater remediation and wastewater treatment. Howard is based in New Providence, NJ and has a bachelor and master’s degree in environmental engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Contact Howard at

Christopher Bond, PE

Christopher is a Project Manager for TRC’s Design Management Services Group within the Infrastructure Sector. He has over 8 years of experience assisting federal, municipal and industrial clients with remedial, sanitary and industrial wastewater treatment design, construction and operations. Christopher received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Ecological Engineering from Purdue University and is based in TRC’s Downtown Chicago office. Contact Christopher at

Chris Harvey

Chris is a Principal and professional engineer with 25+ years focusing on site remediation and water/wastewater treatment and management. Chris is based in Chicago and has a bachelor and master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. Chris is the lead for the Wastewater Treatment CORE Team. Contact Chris at

Sreeni Kota, PhD, PE

Sreeni is a Principal/Technical Director and is TRC’s National Service Leader for Water Quality Compliance and Permitting. He is a Civil/Environmental Engineer with 25 years of experience in hazardous waste management, water/wastewater treatment and comprehensive site assessments and site remediation. Sreeni has a Ph.D. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from North Carolina State University and is based in New Jersey. Contact Sreeni at

Victor Medina, Ph.D., P.E

Victor an Environmental Engineer and is TRC’s Technical Director for Water and Wastewater. Victor has 30 years of experience in remediation, water and wastewater treatment. Medina has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Southern California and is currently based in Jackson, Mississippi. Victor has five patents for innovative environmental technologies and specializes in developing effective solutions to challenging environmental problems. Contact Victor at

Looking for effective solutions to your problems?

Turn to the experts at TRC.

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