GE Analytical Instruments

Application note: The Sievers InnovOx TOC Analyzer: Wastewater Monitoring


Courtesy of GE Analytical Instruments


Wastewater is used water. It can include substances such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps, and chemicals. Manufacturing industries as well as wastewater municipalities must comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations.

In order to discharge treated wastewater and be compliant with the CWA, a company must have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) issued by the EPA or an EPA authorized agency. This permit is issued when a company has proven that they are compliant with the daily pollutant discharge limits set by the CWA. These limits vary depending on the local authority and tributary treated wastewater is being discharging into. More details can be found at

To minimize costs, wastewater treatment processes must be optimized. To help achieve optimization, many facilities are using total organic carbon (TOC) monitoring to ensure quality water while also achieving significant cost reductions.

Treatment Process

A wastewater treatment process is regulated at both a national and regional level. During a manufacturing process or in a wastewater treatment facility, a once clean water supply becomes loaded with impurities that may have health or environmental consequences if released untreated.

The ultimate goal is to release water that is compliant with regulated impurity levels or to clean the wastewater to the original quality for reuse. This treatment and cleaning process involves both physical and chemical treatment.

The first step in cleaning water is to remove suspended solids. The next step is to chemically treat the water to minimize release of hazardous chemicals or bacteria into the environment.

If a process is not properly controlled, this can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Improperly treated water can damage the materials that come in contact with the water such as delivery pipes or holding tanks. Water that has been inefficiently treated can also cause plant shutdown, waste stream diversion, or even re-treatment of stream. All these consequences are expensive and undesirable.

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