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Aspiral™ Flex wastewater treatment packages all treatment stages in custom containers for neighborhood-friendly operation.

Homeowners associations and their communities can benefit from decentralized treatment using modular packaged plants

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) often find themselves out of compliance with wastewater treatment regulations. This may be due to increasingly strict standards. For example, biological nutrient removal (“BNR”) regulations are getting stricter in states across the US, rendering existing plants noncompliant. In other cases, the development has expanded, and the existing infrastructure no longer meets the community’s demand. In other cases, the infrastructure is simply outdated and not functioning.

When trying to meet regulations, it can be challenging, expensive, and time consuming for HOAs to build the infrastructure to connect with a utility’s main centralized plant for the area. Instead, HOAs can overcome those hurdles by opting for packaged plants for effective treatment.

Benefits of Decentralization for HOAs

Decentralized wastewater treatment simply means installing smaller, correctly scaled plants directly at the source of need. Among its many benefits, decentralization:

  • Reduces CAPEX with shorter pipe runs and less costly assets.
  • Reduces OPEX with lower pumping costs, less need for leak detection and repair, and lower O&M costs.
  • Uses modular units that make commissioning, scaling, technology upgrades, and operation and maintenance more efficient.
  • Allows independence from utilities and increases resilience.

When can HOAs benefit from having packaged plants built onsite?

When a Regional Wastewater Utility Is Lacking

When a community with an HOA does not receive service — or adequate service — from a distant, overstressed, expensive, or even absent regional or municipal utility, packaged wastewater treatment plants can be commissioned quickly and efficiently to end the problem. Likewise, communities that must convert from septic systems to sewer lines can accomplish the goal in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the capital outlay required for traditional approaches.

When Plants Need Repairs, Upgrades, or Replacement

At the outset, developers often prefer to construct wastewater treatment plants that meet the basic requirements so they can proceed with development, rather than spending the extra money to build the infrastructure needed for the community at a later stage. This leaves the HOA with a system that’s out of compliance as soon as the community expands. If the technology for the plant no longer meets regulations, energy use is inefficient, or a new water reuse program is desired by the HOA, modular packaged plants can be commissioned quickly to achieve the goals with very little construction. The plants are compact, automatically operated, and low maintenance.

Modern modular units use up-to-date technologies that comply with today’s stricter environmental regulatory frameworks, including California’s Title 22. Even if a modular packaged plant is not an HOA’s desired long-term solution, it can make an ideal temporary solution while a traditional plant is under construction or repair. Modular units used in packaged plants can be efficiently uninstalled, removed, and sold or reused once projects are complete.

Community Resilience

Many high-growth areas where HOAs are facing tough wastewater treatment decisions are also prone to climate shocks. Hurricanes in Florida and Texas, for instance, can disable large-scale, centralized wastewater treatment. Modular units, however, are typically packaged in weatherized steel and are rated for up to 150 mph winds.

When a region’s infrastructure is damaged by a major storm, a public health crisis can develop over the course of days, weeks, or even months. Smaller decentralized plants with steel, wind-rated modular units, often survive unscathed and can go back to normal operation soon after electricity service is restored. When HOAs choose decentralization, they lessen the chance of loss of essential services.

Some high-growth areas like Arizona, where many HOAs may be making tough wastewater treatment decisions, can be subject to drought impacts and long-term aridification. In a water-stressed region, it makes little sense to use water once and discard it. Instead, it can be inexpensively treated by packaged plants onsite and then reused for nonpotable purposes like landscaping irrigation, dust reduction, toilet flushing, pavement washing, and other nonpotable applications for drought resilience.

Packaged Plants the Aspiral™ Way

Fluence’s Aspiral™ Flex packaged wastewater treatment plants have been upgraded to be more modular than ever, with virtually all processes containerized and protected, improving logistics and resilience while lowering total project cost. Combining the highly efficient nutrient removal of Fluence’s membrane aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) technology with ultrafiltration (UF) options, the new Aspiral™ packaged wastewater treatment plants are more logistics-friendly, cost-efficient, and sustainable than ever.

Lightening the Load for HOAs

In general, CAPEX for wastewater treatment infrastructure can be significant. HOAs may face resistance from homeowners who do not want to bear the cost. By opting for packaged plants, HOAs can purchase what they need at that time and scale as needed, rather than paying for a large plant upfront based on future expected growth.

Fluence also offers Water Management Services, which provides performance-based, build-own-operate contracts that allow HOAs to focus on managing their communities and leave the operations and management to Fluence. The HOA is not responsible for upfront capital expenses, paying only for the water services used. Water Management Services essentially provides a dedicated, scaled-to-fit, community water utility with no initial cost and no long-term operation and maintenance.

To learn more about the turnkey Aspiral™ packaged plants and financing options, contact Fluence.

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