The Future of Wastewater Treatment Series: Detroit, MI

This article is part of our feature on the future of wastewater in the U.S.’s fastest growing metro areas. We’re using the Transcend Design Generator to automatically build, expand, or upgrade regional wastewater treatment systems in each of these regions.

As a company that has more than half its team in Hungary, many of our co-workers think of Oakland as being in the Bay Area, and Detroit as a city that is fairly stagnant since it has fallen on hard times. So for us, Oakland County, Michigan, which corresponds to the Detroit metro was a huge surprise, since it appeared on the TOP100 fastest growing counties at #84.  

The wastewater treatment situation in Detroit is an interesting one – and one we had to think a great deal about for this particular exercise. The major treatment facility covers the entire metro area with 650 MGD capacity, and although some parts of the city had population growth, the metro area itself is stagnating, and the treatment plant is enough for the current growth for a long time. 

So we felt the most important and helpful work that our software can offer is a review of the same plant but comparing it with another treatment technology. This could be used in the case of an upgrade scenario, or changing all treatment trains to much more efficient technology, saving money in the long run.  
A good example for this, is that the major treatment plant in the area is a full Activated Sludge plant with Primary Clarification, which can be changed to have a smaller site size, better quality effluent, and also better operational cost if we upgrade it to MBBR-IFAS.  

TDG is unable to change a plant of this size to MBBR IFAS, but what we can do, is simulate a similar CAS and MBBR-IFAS plant for a smaller size, the maximum available for now, which is 300 MLD, so approx. 80 MGD. This would be comparable for multiple reasons, mainly because it is unlikely that the full treatment plant can be shut down easily in Detroit, it makes more sense to change it from train to train in a phased approach. 

See the attached design basis documents for the two plants, and how they differ in multiple ways in an 80 MGD size, and imagine a future with more sustainable treatment technology as part of the facility. 

If you’d like to see the full design package for this treatment plant, send us a note at or contact us here and a member of our team will share it with you!

If you enjoyed this piece you may also want to read about the future of wastewater in Minneapolis!



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