How Water Treatment Plants Can Use Fabric Structures

Long-standing facilities could use an upgrade every once and a while. This includes water treatment plants.

You may be thinking, “What’s wrong with the way water treatment plants operate now?”

The truth is, potable water treatment facilities can run into the same problems as other key operations, including lack of room for growth as the need for potable water increases as well as an aging infrastructure and an old design that struggles to properly treat water for the growing public need.

Drinking treated water is “one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.” It’s pretty clear to see why. Drinking treated water is essential to healthy living and helps prevent many water-borne diseases, including hepatitis, giardia, salmonella, shigella, and legionella name a few!  Since water treatment plants became readily available, extremely harmful conditions, including cholera and typhoid, have decreased.

To continue producing safe drinking water, municipalities should consider modern and alternative building solutions. Read on to find out why.

How Are Buildings Typically Used at Water Treatment Facilities?

The process for treating water includes many steps to produce potable and safe water for drinking purposes. Water treatment plants typically involve the following steps.


Surface water (from a lake, reservoir, or river) and groundwater are collected at this stage and are transported to a water treatment plant.

Screening and Straining

During this stage, water is cleared of more oversized items, including debris made of organic or inorganic material. Screens are regularly cleaned to prevent further contamination.

Addition of Chemicals

Chemicals, or coagulants, are added to the water to force remaining particles to the surface and form a clump. This clump is also called a floc. 

Coagulation and Flocculation

The water is gently mixed so the floc can keep collecting particle debris in suspension. This stage helps the floc prepare for settling into a clarifier.

Sedimentation and Clarification

The floc from the previous stage is moved to a sedimentation basin, where the floc particles are allowed to settle. The “sludge” that forms on the bottom of the sedimentation basin is pumped to a disposal pond. The above water is then moved to the filtration stage.


Water at this stage is filtered from the top using gravity filtration to pull water down. Sand and gravel are often used at this stage to remove any remaining particulates. 

This process is similar to what you might use at home with a pitcher or bottle that filters water for you.


Water treatment plants usually add chlorine at this stage to remove bacteria, pathogens, and other microorganisms from the filtered water. This step is important because it ensures proper disinfection of the water before going to the public.


Water is either stored in elevated tanks or underground wells. Proper storage is crucial to keeping the water potable and safe for drinking.


The distribution system ensures that water is provided consistently through pipes, faucets, fire hydrants, and other pipelines.

Because of the number of important steps water treatment facilities use to provide safe drinking water, the distribution system is a critical component to delivering water safely to homes. 

Aging infrastructure and the use of materials like lead in water pipes has proven to wreak havoc on the health of surrounding communities and the environment. Especially in areas that have water with acidic or mineral content, such systems are easily corroded.

With regard to the buildings used by water treatment plants, there are alternative building solutions that offer many modern and unique advantages, including fabric structures that offer lasting durability and affordability, all in one innovative building system.

[Related: Revolutionizing Sewage Treatment Plants With Engineered Fabric Structures]

The Benefits of Having Fabric Buildings for Water Treatment Plants

Fabric structures aren’t simply “tents” or makeshift enclosures. Specifically, fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® offer so much more than just a quick-fix solution to replace or expand water treatment facilities. Engineered fabric structures: 

  • Are custom-designed to meet the unique building requirements of your water treatment plant
  • Meet location-specific wind and snow loads, required by local or international building code (IBC) for year-round use and safety
  • Designed for a rapid setup, drastically reducing construction schedules, and easily relocated, expanded, or reconfigured to align with the changing needs of your water treatment plant
  • Come with optional powder-coating to help protect against continued exposure to water and chemicals (especially chlorine)
  • Are virtually maintenance-free

[Related: Why Choose Fabric Buildings Over Traditional Structures]

A Modern Building Solution for an Aging Infrastructure Problem

Traditional construction materials such as wood, concrete, brick, and other prefabricated building solutions share the same negative attributes.

Long Construction Schedules

Constructing water treatment buildings using conventional materials like wood, steel, brick, or concrete can take much longer than anticipated. Hastily building with these materials is not only not recommended, but can be dangerous and costly. In addition to having longer construction schedules, the speed at which they can be constructed is also determined by the timeliness of crew availability, availability of tools and heavy equipment, the cooperation of the weather, and the project’s scope.

Fabric structures, on the other hand, are designed for rapid setup. Fabric buildings from Alaska Structures are designed to be installed in a fraction of the time compared to typical construction, and faster than steel buildings. Fabric structures also offer the ability to be installed and left in place for decades of use, or easily taken down and relocated — a modern building advantage that typical building construction and steel buildings do not offer. 

Changes and Deterioration With the Weather

Traditional materials are susceptible to changes associated with the weather. The continued expansion and contraction from hot and cold seasons as well as the constant use in close proximity to water (including humidity, water spray, and chemicals) can make typical construction materials chip or crack, deteriorate or decay, rust, shrink or swell, absorb heat, or leak. Additionally, typical building construction is prone to damage caused by insects as well as mold and mildew, especially in humid environments. 

Fabric structures like those from Alaska Structures are virtually maintenance-free and offer unmatched durability against extreme weather conditions as well as insects, and the tensioned fabric membranes are designed to withstand rot, mold, and mildew for safety.

[Related: The Benefits of Fabric Buildings From Alaska Structures]

Costly Materials

Unlike fabric structures, other materials can be expensive to use because of the equipment or transportation needed. This is especially true for heavier materials such as steel buildings or concrete tilt-up buildings. Also, any pre-build requirements will cost the builder more money before the real work even begins.

The materials used for fabric structures offer drastic savings in transportation costs due to a lower weight and low-cube shipping. Once delivered on site, minimal tools and equipment are needed to install a fabric building.

Expensive Labor

Depending on the materials used for the construction project, labor can take up a significant portion of any budget. This is especially true for brick, steel, and wood construction. The longer it takes to build a water treatment facility, the more expensive the project will end up costing.

Fabric structures from Alaska Structures can be assembled with a minimum number of crew and equipment, and do not require any previous experience or expensive supervisor(s) to oversee the construction.

[Related: Advantages of Fabric Buildings Over Traditional Structures]

Fabric Structures for Water Treatment Plants

Fabric structures for water treatment plants are a modern building solution that offers many cost-saving advantages over typical construction methods, including:  

  • Shorter construction schedules
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Minimal equipment and tools needed for assembly
  • Ability to install and safely anchor onto virtually any level surface
  • Relocate or easily expand as the needs change
  • Unmatched durability and longevity
  • Virtually maintenance-free

Alaska Structures has provided more than 65,000 engineered fabric buildings and camp systems to over 85 countries around the world. Rely on our unmatched expertise and experience to design and build a water treatment facility for your project.

Contact Alaska Structures today and request a quote for your project.

Featured image via Pxfuel

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