A landy trash rake system grabs debris from the bar racks.

Robust and efficient automatic trash rakes help keep water flowing through the intake system of your plant, treatment facility, or pumping station, even when sustained flooding or unseasonal storms clog waterways with ever-increasing amounts of grass, roots, trees, and trash.

If you’re looking to install or upgrade automatic trash rakes on your intake water intake screens, you’ll need a system that’s flexible enough to meet the needs of your specific facility and strong enough to handle whatever rapidly changing weather patterns send down the river.

Let It Flow: Spending Smart on Trash Rake Systems

With climate change driving more intense storms and unseasonal rainfall, catastrophic flooding events are becoming more common worldwide. That means rivers and streams are not only carrying more water and peaking higher – they’re also carrying more debris.

It’s no longer enough to plan future investments based on past averages. Your next-generation flow control equipment needs to be able to handle increased volumes of debris that build up faster than before.

When it comes to protecting infrastructure while maintaining flows, your trash rake system does a lot of the heavy lifting, but how can you be sure that spending big on equipment today is going to pay off tomorrow?

Keep reading to learn more about what these systems do, how they protect your infrastructure, and what goes into determining the cost of a trash rake system. We’ll also consider the long-term benefits of going with a trusted equipment supplier like Atlas-SSI.

What Is a Trash Rake System?

A trash rake system is an automated system that removes water-borne debris that has become trapped against the bar screens that protect the entrance to your water intake system.

Trash rakes are essential to protecting pumps and other downstream infrastructure from leaves, roots, grass, trash, and even larger debris like tree trunks or tires.

A trash rake system helps manage debris so that water can pass through your screens to ensure consistent flows and prevent flooding, especially during storms and flooding events.

Grab-style trash rake systems feature a winch-mounted mechanism designed to grab debris trapped against intake screens and remove it from the water.

The grabber mechanism is mounted on an overhead monorail track that moves the unit sideways once clear of the bar screen to allow debris to be dumped into a hopper or container.

5 Benefits of Trash Rake Systems

While a fully automated, customized trash rake system can represent a major capital investment, this humble piece of equipment offers significant benefits for you and your customers, especially when you take a long view.

Benefits include:

  1. Protection: The trash rake system reduces loading on your intake screens and helps ensure water-borne debris doesn’t reach your main water intake structures.
  2. Plant Efficiency: A trash rake system automates debris removal, allowing your facility to maintain constant water flow and avoid interruptions, especially during extreme weather.
  3. Lower Maintenance Costs: By automating debris removal and preventing damage, trash rakes lower the day-to-day and long-term maintenance costs of your plant.
  4. Worker Safety: By reducing the need to clear trash manually from screens, workers are removed from a potentially hazardous situation, especially when flows are fast or high.
  5. Risk Mitigation: By clearing debris and reducing clogs, a trash rake system helps minimize costly downtime and potential damage to other equipment, protecting your capital investments and making costs more predictable.

Trash rake systems also offer significant benefits over other intake protection solutions. These include:

  • Vertical grab mechanism maximizes debris removal
  • Debris moved directly to the dumpster — no conveyors required
  • No submerged parts for simplified maintenance
  • Monorail track can handle curved and other site-specific requirements
  • Small system footprint
Landy trash rake removes debris

What Goes Into the Cost of a Trash Rake System?

While many components of trash rake systems, including grabbers units, travel mechanisms, and motors, are standardized, trash rake systems are specialized systems that need to be customized to suit your specific site.

That can make the overall costs of a trash rake installation hard to predict without a detailed site survey by an experienced equipment provider.

That said, let’s take a look at some of the major drivers that do affect the final cost of a fully installed trash rake system.


The quality of the materials used to manufacture your rake and its support infrastructure will play a role in determining the performance and longevity of your system. While you can save money by choosing lighter-weight materials now, you will need to replace them sooner.

Equipment provided by leading manufacturers is typically made from hot-dipped galvanized steel or high-quality stainless steel.


The amount of customization needed to make an equipment package fit your needs can vary widely depending on the size of the installation and the space constraints of your site.

Tailor-made adjustments to standardized parts like adjustable rake tines, specialized blades, or specialized motors can also drive up costs.


Special handling needs, extended height or travel requirements, or integration with other on-site systems can add to the base cost of a trash rake system.

And, while adding automated controls and sensors will have a higher initial cost, these can increase performance and reduce manual labor needs, especially during peak events, and may be essential for automated operations at many remote sites.


The costs of transporting larger or heavier fabricated components to your site can be a big part of the overall price, especially if you work with a smaller equipment maker who might not have the ability to support projects outside their core area.


On-site installation by engineers, welders, systems experts, and even divers can be a significant part of your up-front costs.


While trash rakes are designed to reduce manual maintenance, your system will require occasional maintenance to keep it operating optimally over time.

Depending on the complexity of your system, you might choose to maintain it yourself. For more complex installations, you might save more by signing up for a scheduled maintenance package from your supplier.


While spending more on larger motors than you might need to handle typical debris loading may seem unnecessary initially, building your system to handle more extreme conditions might be wise as weather conditions continue to change.


Are your operations likely to expand in the future? Building in scalability now may increase your return on investment and save you on upgrades down the line if you add an extra intake gate or require heavier lifting equipment as debris loads increase.

While highly customized installations can be difficult to scale for future needs, many systems can be built to a “modular” design that allows for future expansions.


Ensure your equipment meets existing and possible future safety and environmental regulations to avoid enforced upgrades or fines down the line. Work with an experienced supplier to ensure intake equipment meets federal requirements as well as local and industry-specific standards.

Service and Support

Working with an equipment supplier who guarantees, services, and supports their equipment over the long term can be a wise investment. You’ll know exactly what costs are covered and you won’t have to worry about entrusting your equipment to untried third-party contractors.

Make sure your rake supplier can service and support equipment in your region over the long term.

Why Choose Atlas-SSI Trash Rake Systems?

As the leading supplier of quality raw water intake screens in the U.S., Atlas-SSI offers a range of professional features and services that will add performance to your system today and offer returns on your investment for years to come.

These include:

  • High-quality components: We fabricate our trash rakes from premium 304 or 316 stainless steel. We assemble our products ourselves. We do not sub out work.
  • Industry-leading automation: Our SmartScreen® technology allows fully automated off-site operation to optimize screen performance.
  • Weather eye: Optional remote monitoring enables operators to monitor cleaning system performance via a remote workstation or a smartphone.
  • Customized controls: Add-on features include ultrasonic differential level indicators and automatic timers — all with local manual override.
  • On-site support: We have highly certified technicians and diving crews that travel anywhere in the U.S. for service, repair, or installation.
  • On time, on budget: We offer some of the shortest delivery times in the industry.

By partnering with Atlas-SSI, you’re choosing a long-term partnership designed to help you succeed at your job – with quality intake protection systems that have been proven in the toughest environments, and ongoing service and support to match!

Contact us today for a quote, or click below to learn more about our best-in-class trash rake solutions.