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Love Me Some Lagoons!

By Heather Jennings, PE

Of all the wastewater lagoon systems I have been to, I’ve never met the same lagoon twice! Many consider lagoons old tech, but they can be very reliable and more stable treatment systems than many of the more sophisticated systems out there. Lagoons, like any wastewater system, should not be left unattended for long periods of time! I recommend daily visits rather than once a week or once a month. One of the common issues lagoons have, barring equipment issues, is biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) issues.

BOD5 effluent issues have several different causes. One of the biggest reasons is short circuiting of the lagoon, either by poor design or due to solids build up. Basically, the treatment process can be cut sometimes to over half of the original intended hydraulic detention in the extreme cases by either issue. Poor design can be overcome by adding baffles and strategically placed mixers or aerators. Solids build up can be handled by dredging, but this usually requires extended closure and, at the least, plastic liner replacements. If you are looking at 30%–50% or more organic solids in your sludge, give me a call as we can break them down with Bio Energizer® without taking your system offline! [Read more…]

Wastewater Treatment: A Delicate Balance

By Jared Alder, MS

The treatment of wastewater is a delicate balance of chemical, biological, and mechanical processes. Treatment operators need to find a happy medium to provide high-quality treatment, while staying within budgets and all the while ensuring they meet environmental compliance. Operators are expected to deal with a constantly varying treatment system, such as from climate changes, human usage patterns, and more. With all of the possible changes, budget constraints, and regulator requirements, finding a balance can be quite challenging.

To keep effluent within the parameters of their facility permits, operators must constantly evaluate the chemical makeup of their treatment systems and determine the precise amounts of chemicals that should be applied to get a high-quality discharge. [Read more…]

Your Wastewater System Runs Smoothly, Until It Doesn’t!

By Heather Jennings, PE

The first thing I usually hear from operators is that they don’t have any problems! Everything runs perfectly, all the time, until it doesn’t. Then the heartburn, extra hours, and long days begin. The only other thing as sure as death and taxes for a wastewater system is that it will one day have a system upset. It might not be often, but when it does, let’s talk about what to look at first. [Read more…]

The Water Break Podcast, Episode 2: Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater

“Where we bridge the gap between water plant operators and engineers”

In this podcast episode, host Heather Jennings, PE, interviews wastewater microbiologist and certified operator Toni Glymph-Martin on the topic of Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater. Toni has more than 40 years of wastewater experience and is the author of several wastewater microbiology textbooks.

Microorganisms (stained slides), photos courtesy of Toni Glymph-Martin:

  • GAOs

  • PAO-PHBs

  • PAO-PolyPs

Toni’s Website: www.wwmicrosolutions.com

Toni’s textbooks:

More from Toni Glymph-Martin (video): The Wastewater Treatment Plant Microbiological Zoo

Podcast reference from Wanda’s Water Tidbit:

From the Door of Heather’s Home Recording Studio:

Chemical Dosing for Phosphorus Removal

By Jared Alder, MS

There has been a big focus in domestic wastewater on the removal of phosphorus and the potential for excess phosphorus to cause eutrophication in receiving water. Treatment facilities of all different shapes and sizes with inadequate phosphorus treatment technologies have the potential for excess phosphorus release.

The removal of phosphorus from wastewater can be performed using physico-chemical methods, biological treatment, and/or combinations of both. Physico-chemical processes of phosphorus removal have been widely used. Such physico-chemical processes are generally effective, reliable, and do need a lot of large capital equipment; however, they are not without limitations. For example, adding chemicals to treatment processes can impact the pH of the treatment process, thus resulting in the need for additional chemicals to adjust the pH before the treated water can be discharged. In some cases, because of the chemical usage, a chemical sludge can be created and there may need to be additional treatment steps for removing the sludge. [Read more…]

Get the “P” Out of There!

By Heather Jennings, PE

Phosphorus is one of the most abundant elements on earth. It’s essential for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy carrier life is built on. But in excess in our lakes and ponds, we see large algal growths occurring. Many times, these algal blooms suffocate the surrounding aquatic life and or produce toxins that can kill both aquatic life and humans.

How does phosphorus get into our rivers and lakes? I’m glad you asked! Some of the sources are runoff from farm and lawn fertilizers or partial wastewater treatment of raw influent. With the exception of periodic excursion, wastewater treatment plants are typically operating under tight water quality permits with less than 1 mg/L of Total Phosphorus in their discharge permits. This limit is often less than the background phosphorus existing in receiving waters. The permits can be even tighter if the treatment plant discharges to sensitive waters of the U.S. (as defined for the Clean Water Act). [Read more…]

The Water Break Podcast, Episode 1: Wastewater Nitrification and Denitrification

“Where we bridge the gap between water plant operators and engineers”

In our first podcast episode, host Heather Jennings, PE, discusses the wastewater nitrification-denitrification cycle with two guests, John Souza and Diego Lopez. John Souza is Utilities Manager for the City of Lemoore, California. He is also a Grade T-4 Water Operator, Grade 3 Wastewater Operator, and D-3 Distribution Operator. Diego Lopez, also with the City of Lemoore, is a Grade 2 Wastewater Operator working toward his Grade 3 exam.

Nitrification-denitrification is the great “teeter-totter” of wastewater treatment. Nitrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth, so why do we spend millions of dollars removing it from water? And how do we do it?

Podcast reference:

Podcast reference for Wanda’s Water Tidbit:

Supplemental reading:

Nitrification and Denitrification in Wastewater Activated Sludge

By Heather Jennings, PE

The great teetertotter of wastewater is the nitrification and denitrification cycle in activated sludge wastewater systems. It takes both to convert ammonia to nitrogen gas! Both processes feed off of and support each other but, in some ways, they have competing needs.

Nitrification consists of ripping off the hydrogen in ammonia and adding oxygen to make nitrates and nitritesthis is accomplished by bacteria that we call nitrifiers. You might be already familiar with some of these nitrifiers, such as Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter, etc. I, personally, call nitrifiers the “divas” of wastewater. They can only tolerate specific conditions to really thrivesuch as a pH range of 6.58.0. They also require 7.1 lb of alkalinity for every 1 lb of ammonia that is oxidized, and they prefer temperatures at 77°F with DOs (dissolved oxygen levels) above 2mg/L. Retention times need to be longer than five hours, and the F:M (food to microorganism) ratios must ideally be less than 0.25. Basically, nitrifiers are screaming for their lattes to be a specific temperature and everything just right or they will refuse to work! Sadly, we can’t fire them. We have to learn how to meet their needs to get any nitrification done.   [Read more…]

Nitrification 101

By Heather Jennings, PE

Today we are going to focus on nitrifiers, those wastewater treatment autotrophs that get energy from oxidizing ammonia. (Autotrophs are microorganisms that produce complex organic compounds using inorganic carbon from simple substances as a food source.) Oxidizing ammonia is a fancy way of saying ripping off hydrogens to stick oxygens onto nitrogen—the essence of nitrification.

In wastewater treatment we rely on bacteria to perform nitrification. While Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas are the most commonly recognized, they are only part of a suite of autotrophic nitrifying bacteria that do the job. Mind you, there are also heterotrophic nitrifiers that are part of the floc-forming bacteria that help in the oxidation of ammonium, but we’re going to focus on the autotrophs this time around. [Read more…]

Video: BHN Company Values

In this 4-minute video, BHN President/CEO Lyndon Smith speaks with us about BHN’s Company Values—Integrity, Win-Win-Win, Proactive Innovation, Relentless Pursuit of Excellence—and their impact on how we conduct business, treat our customers, and benefit the world.

 

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