What is a Lift Station?

A wastewater lift station is a pumping station that moves wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. The benefit of using a lift station in a sewage collection system is that it saves a substantial amount of money in excavation costs, which involves digging for sewer pipes. Sewer pipes live underground, and digging trenches is costly. Installing a wastewater lift station at certain points in a gravity pipeline system saves on front-end construction costs without sacrificing efficiency or functionality. They play an integral role in moving sewage to a wastewater treatment plant.

How Does a Lift Station Work?

A lift station is an integral part of an effective sewage collection system. Raw sewage makes its journey underground in sloped pipelines that take advantage of gravity to keep costs down. This type of pipe system is commonly referred to as a gravity pipeline. In some situations, it’s necessary for wastewater to enter the pipe system from a lower elevation. In order for the raw sewage to continue the journey towards a wastewater treatment plant, it needs to be efficiently transported to a higher elevation. This can’t happen naturally for obvious reasons – it would defy the laws of gravity and physics. Fortunately, we have the wastewater lift stations to help.

Eventually, the raw sewage reaches a storage container referred to as a wet well, which is essentially a holding cell that empties out once it reaches a predetermined level. While in the wet well, the wastewater is tested and carefully monitored in order to detect sewage levels. Coarse (solid) materials are removed at this stage. Once the wet well is full, a lift station pump will “lift” the sewage upwards using a pressurized sewer force main. A sewer force main is a system that consists of pumps and compressors. Its purpose is to elevate the wastewater to a higher elevation so that it can continue its inevitable journey towards treatment and recirculation.

Aerial image of a Wastewater Treatment Site

Types of Lift Stations

Municipalities in charge of collecting and treating wastewater commonly use two types of lift stations. The submersible pump, which is more modern, and the dry well/wet well pump, which is more traditional.
Lift Station Dry Well

Dry Well

In dry-well lift stations, the system is housed in a separate location (usually underground or in a separate chamber). Due to this physical separation, maintenance on a dry well is more hazardous and poses increased safety risks.

Lift Station Wet Well - Submersible Pumps

Submersible Pump (Wet Well)

Submersible pumps, as the name suggests, are submerged in the wastewater they pump. It is mounted inside the wet well and uses a motor to pump the wastewater. This method is more modern due to the reduced health and safety concerns they offer.

Lift Station Components

A functional wastewater lift station pump consists of multiple working parts and components. Everything from a power supply to remote monitoring and control must be in working order so that wastewater can be effectively collected and treated. Every aspect of the lift station pump needs to be contained and installed in an enclosed structure. Systems can be pre-designed or customized to accommodate the specific needs of the responsible municipality.

Lift Station components include:

  • Receiving well (wet well)
  • Screen or grinding to remove coarse materials
  • Pumps and compressors
  • Associated valves
  • Electric motors
  • Power supply system
  • Equipment control and lift station alarm system
  • Odor control and ventilation system

Wastewater Lift Station Standards

In order to be most effective, a well-designed wastewater lift station needs to accommodate certain qualities. A lift station pump needs to adhere to the following quality standards:

  • Matching pump capacity with the quantity and quality of wastewater being treated
  • Operate reliably and without interruption
  • Offer streamlined maintenance and operation
  • Not restrict future capacity and expansion needs
  • Avoid excessive release of odors
  • Have minimal environmental impacts on the surrounding area
  • Avoid overflow and flooding

Lift Station Maintenance

Sewage is a hazardous material and needs to be handled and treated as such. It is important that wastewater operators are keenly aware that lift stations require routine maintenance. Keeping a maintenance record is not only a best practice, but it’s also often a legal requirement. Examples of lift station maintenance include logging and monitoring flow readings, cleaning floats, greasing motors, and testing power supplies and backup generators. Additionally, it’s important that lift station alarms be tested so the proper parties can be immediately notified in the event of any operational issues or equipment malfunctions.

SCADA Monitoring App for Lift Station Operators - High Tide Technologies

Lift Station Monitoring

Properly operating and maintaining a wastewater lift station demands consistent monitoring. Hands down, the most effective way to monitor and control a lift station is through a cloud-based SCADA monitoring system. It’s easy, affordable, accurate, and be accessed from anywhere. If you are unfamiliar with SCADA, please read our comprehensive resource on SCADA Basics. SCADA systems blend hardware and software to enable wastewater operators to access data about their lift stations. This includes alarm notifications as well as graphs and charts about historical data. Proper monitoring ensures that lift station equipment is healthy and operational, and also ensures public safety by providing crucial data about the wastewater being transported and processed. With web-based convenience comes web-based problems. For this reason, High Tide Technologies uses the most sophisticated cloud-based SCADA security on the market. This ensures your data is safe from malicious hackers.

Lift Station Alarms

If a lift station is malfunctioning, operators need to know ASAP. For this reason, lift station alarms can be set to notify operators in crucial moments. Traditionally auto-dialers have been used to make these notifications. But in the modern world, many of us are no longer tethered to a landline. Auto dialer systems are rapidly giving way to SCADA systems – with good reason. With a cloud-based SCADA system, the operator can receive lift station alarms via email, text, or phone call on their mobile device – regardless of where they are. It’s best not to take chances in an emergency. In addition to traditional auto-dialer functionality, in which wastewater operators receive lift station alarm notifications, we also offer our customers other useful data that ensures they are monitoring their lift station with smart data.

The High Tide Technologies intuitive web-based monitoring app includes:

  • Pump statistics
  • Rain gauge data
  • Flow meter reporting
  • Pump amp readings
  • Preventative maintenance alerts

A lift station alarm saves wastewater operators time and money.

Industry-Leading Lift Station Monitoring Services

Lift Station Operators

Lift Stations are a crucial part of the wastewater industry’s overall infrastructure. They make the process of transporting sewage to a treatment center more efficient. Additionally, they reduce the cost of installing underground sewer pipes. It’s important that wastewater treatment operators closely monitor the health and efficiency of their equipment – paying special attention to alarms and notifications. It not only improves the longevity of the equipment but also ensures public safety. Sewage is a hazardous material and must be transported and treated with care.

About High Tide Technologies

High Tide Technologies offers comprehensive SCADA solutions for lift station operators that provide them with the insights they need to do their jobs. Contact one of our distributors to learn more about our industry-leading lift station monitoring services.