The Top 5 Uncertainties of Utility Master Planning

We at Transcend work directly with a large number of water/wastewater utilities, EPC’s, and equipment suppliers to help streamline master plans and conceptual design processes.

Here’s the top 5 uncertainties that we’re hearing from these parties about the current challenges in creating master plans for treatment plants – and what can be done about them.

1. Planning for unforeseen regulatory requirements

As effluent requirements become more stringent, utilities around the world are struggling to effectively deploy capital into assets that can treat for these new limits. Phosphorous, nitrogen, PFOSA/PFOA’s, microplastics, pharmaceuticals, and other emerging contaminants are all becoming ‘mainstream’ and forcing asset owners (and their consultants) into considering new or expanded treatment strategies they didn’t have to previously account for.

2. Planning for uncertainties in population & economic growth

No utility has a crystal ball, but asset owners and their consultants are still forced to consider what might happen 5, 10, and even 20 years in the future. How will their service area develop in terms of total population served? Will industries and businesses move in? If so, what types of businesses and what type of water will they require to operate (and what about the discharge)? The answers to these questions are anything but certain, especially when events like global pandemics occur. How can utilities plan to invest in their infrastructure while trying to ‘predict the future’ in terms of flows & loads into their treatment works?

3. Planning for unexpected changes in climate

Snowstorms in Texas, extreme flooding in Australia, and mega droughts in various parts of the world all significantly impact treatment infrastructure. How can utilities plan to make their infrastructure more resilient for these kinds of extreme weather events, and how should they spend capital and/or operational dollars to do so?

4. Planning for new innovations

There’s no shortage of innovative treatment & operations technologies in the market – but few see the light of day beyond the benchtop or small-scale pilots. How can utilities, consultants, and vendors spend more time assessing & adopting the latest and greatest innovations while also maintaining the safety and quality standards they need to keep populations safe?

5. Planning for scarcity of talent

There’s a massive shortage of talent in the water industry, and all parties are worried about not having enough people to get the job done. How can the market develop, attract, and retain diverse talent that can put their minds to work on some of the most complex societal water issues the world has ever seen?

In each of these cases, time & budgets are stretched to the max and hamper the ability of utilities, engineers, and vendors to assess a wide number of potential treatment options to find the best fit. Transcend clients turn to technology – and specifically, our conceptual design software – to reduce project risk and better future-proof their plans and organizations.

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