The Responsibilities and Challenges of Wastewater and Water Treatment Laboratories


The prime function of a wastewater Laboratory facility is to ensure that all discharges from a control facility meet all appropriate Federal and Provincial standards.  The laboratory technicians and scientists have a purpose to exceed the governmental standards by monitoring pollutants to ensure the protection of the environment in a cost-effective manner. Through frequent analysis of samples, the laboratory can make recommendations to ensure proper operational control at the wastewater plant.

Another major function of a typical wastewater laboratory is permitting, inspecting, and sampling significant industrial users of the sewer system to determine that the wastewater discharge meets local discharge pre-treatment limits. These limits and their enforcement protect the treatment process, increase worker safety, maintain agricultural utilisation of the sewage sludge or biosolids, and protect the quality of creeks and waterways in the region allocated.

A good wastewater laboratory generates revenue through the collection of permit fees, fines, surcharges and monitoring costs from various industries, commercial establishments and other treatment plants throughout the service area. This revenue helps to reduce residential sewer rates by directing any additional treatment costs to the facilities generating those costs.

The primary function of the water treatment laboratory is to ensure that drinking water produced at the Water Treatment Plant meets or exceeds established Federal and Provincial standards for quality and portability. Microbiological and inorganic chemical analyses are performed regularly on water treated at the plant and in the distribution system to ensure a safe water supply. A water treatment laboratory will often provide certified drinking water and wastewater testing on a fee basis.

Design Consideration

Wastewater and Water Treatment Laboratories often require a dynamic design that can change with the continuing advancements in technologies as well as the expanding and contracting requirements. A number of distinct areas need to be considered in the typical wastewater laboratory such as Microbiology areas, general chemistry areas, inorganics and organics areas along with sample receipt areas and discrete or nutrient analysis areas.

Common tests in today’s wastewater laboratory

Today’s Wastewater and Water Treatment Laboratories need be very versatile to facilitate a lot of tests that include:

  • Alkalinity
  • Ammonia
  • Bioassay
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)
  • Chemical oxygen demand (COD)
  • Chlorine residual
  • Coliform
  • Conductivity
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Hardness

Today’s Core Challenges and Responsibilities

Some of the core challenges Modulab has identified in today’s Wastewater and Water Treatment Laboratories include:

  • Sample Collection and preservation management
  • Samples preparation management and process
  • Sample Analysis and interpretation system and protocol
  • Programs to assist with Operation and maintenance of equipment
  • Ongoing Chemical and waste management
  • Assurance or quality and standards adherence
  • Utilization of existing space through workflow analysis.
  • Should it be Functionality over design or vice versa?
  • Budget constraints due to costly specification and variety.
  • Ensuring that new laboratory complies to most recent Australian standards.

How can Modulab assist?

Modulab is a specialist at providing laboratory furniture and fit-out (also known as laboratory joinery or laboratory casework). The team at Modulab have the capability to provide consultation to maximize the outcome for our clients. This is to ensure a compliant, and efficient laboratory space that has expansion and modularity in mind for future changes in trends, technology, and methodologies.

The standard process for a successful laboratory new-build or fit out includes consultancy, staff survey, design, drafting, design reviews, estimating, projects planning, manufacture, installation, certification followed by a great maintenance program.

Need to consult with a laboratory layout, design, and fit-out expert? Contact Modulab (a subsidiary of Westlab) at 1 877 822 1455!

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