Yearly costs of a Waste Water Treatment Plant

I am currently looking at a park with a WWTP and I wanted to an idea of what the typical yearly costs look like when operating these. Kind of a list of what the line items would be and what the expense would typically be. Some items will obviously be state/area dependent. The park is roughly 100 spaces.

You can start by contacting the current licensed operator. He or she should be able to tell you what they are charging per month and what some of the issues are with the plant. Then get some quotes form other operators in the area. We pay around $1500/mo base fee plus chemicals, sludge pumping, permits, etc.

What kind of plant is it? How many gallons per day are you treaying. Cost will be all over the map. Big drivers of cost are: operator, electric (airation) and pumps, maintence and repairs, chemicals, licenses. Reserves for capital improvements could be equal to or greater than operating cost.

Phillip Merrill
Merrill Water Systems

Having both as an owner-operator a waste water treatment plant and parks with septic tanks–we would choose a septic tanks operation over wwtp’s and if you do not like septic tanks why the hassle of always needing to spend more money on repairing and updating plants to met new regulations and restrictions that are impossible to know in the future!!! Wwtp’s are impossible to budget and future buyers will be difficult to convince they want that problem!!

I was afraid of that assessment Carl. We are looking at a few WWTP parks and I can’t seem to find any consistencies what-so-ever in their operating costs. Hard to tell if park A is under maintained or if park B is bleeding money.

bjy & Phillip, if you had to give a per lot range. What would it be? (Not including reserves)

The permit conditions drives the cost. The main driver is labor. Are once a day readings required or once a week? A small activated sludge plant for 100 homes could be 50 to 70k per year. So $40 to 60 per lot a month. Labor could be 24 to 36k for a once a week type deal if you have a maintenance guy to do the daily reading if required. If your discharging your treated water to any water body a daily is a given. If you discharging to a leach field or infiltration pond weekly would probably be ok. You may say i can get my labor for $1500 per month but if they dont know what they are doing… you will be sorry.

Hire the person who is way over qualified for the job. Who has been doing it for 20 years not the cheap guy fresh out of school.

Your operator should do the following:
Be listed as operator of record (meaning they are responsible if something really hits the fan due to their mistake…)
Carry liability insurance 2mil min
Be on call 24/7 365 for emergencies &have backup personel to do this if your operator goes fishing.
Be able to be onsite within 1hr to respond to emergencies.
Be onsite a least once per week.
Oversee any daily activities
Take all lab samples
Fill out monthly reports to regulatory agencies
Maintain compliance with permit conditions
Provide owner with cap ex budget for next 1,3,5 years.

The activated sludge treatment plant is one of the most expensive to run labor and operating cost wise. If you have a different type of plant your cost could be much less.

I had looked into a couple of parks with wwtp’s. I contacted the contracted company that maintained them to get an idea of costs and upcoming repairs. Also, don’t forget that they are pretty large consumers of electricity, in addition to permits, insurance, etc. I didn’t see one park that actually had a reserve fund for major repairs or replacement which can be pretty astronomical.

When operating the plant it took less than 15 minutes per week and classes are available for a park manager to learn how to operate. One major problems is all the aeration motors that will need replacing and yes electricity plus the outflow is very touchy area especial if it leaves the property. Our major concern was ALL the NEW standards EPA was coming up with and they had NO CERCERN about you cost to stay in compliance and the big if is tomorrow what new regulations are coming!! In Florida I know of parks that have had to install brand new systems–how do you budget for that???

Frank doesnt even want the manager to mow the lawns. You have to be really brave to have your manager run your wwtp. I would never have my manager be the responsible person for a wwtp.

Thanks for the great input. Everyone’s been a huge help on this one.

Phillip some of us owner-operators took the courses to understood the operations of wwtp to be better informed owners and also able to operate. There is a group of owners that operate the parks themselves and do not use managers. We have had managers and also at the same time operate parks in our home base and in the future could use managers again–it is definitely a choice of owners. There are some people that have more experience than Frank–such as George Allen. With 40 years of experience we find becoming a millionaire is very easy in 15 years depending on the size and market you are in. How many millions you need to be happy is a personal choice. When someone says they own over 150 parks I notice that parks they are buying presently is with investors money solely and never or very little of their own money–what equity do those quote owner really have is and how easy can investors get their money back??? Again there is room for many different types of ownership and whatever floats your ship enjoy. A very different point of view but please trying not to be problematic.


I hope I didnt come across as rude that was not my intent. I think all owners who have wwtp should learn as much as possible about their system and even become licensed to operate it. There are varing degrees of complexity depending on the plant. My point was the risk is to great to hand off the operation of a wwtp to a manager and then show up every three months or once a year. If the owner is knowledgeable and licensed they could provide the over site of the manager needed to limit their risk exposure. If the owner doesnt have the knowledge or licensing then a third party to oversee the onsite person is needed. Just to much risk to not have weekly eyes on the operation. Just my oppion :smile:

I do think there is good opportunity for profitabilty from parks with private utilities it just requires more over sight from the owner or third party. I think 100 spaces is a minimum for a wwtp but there are so many variables very park has to be evaluated on their onw merits.

Phillip Merrill

Phillip you didn’t even remotely come across as rude or disrespectful. You simply stated a valid and differing point of view that was well thought out.

I understand both points of view. I personnally would be very hesitant to use a manager but would not rule it out. It would depend on the person.