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Use of Biostimulants and Buffers for Upset Recovery in Paper Mill Wastewater Systems

By Heather Jennings, PE

Industrial pulp and paper wastewater is considered one of the more challenging waters to treat using biological methods, which depend on microbial activity to effectively remediate the wastewater.

Wastewater treatment systems are often influenced/impacted by increased hydraulic and/or COD (chemical oxygen demand) loading as mills add new chemicals or otherwise modify mill operations. These events oftentimes inhibit the wastewater microbial activity, causing “upsets” and, potentially, discharge-limit violations. However, providing the necessary biostimulants and buffers to the microbial system—as we describe in this case study from a paper mill in China—can significantly improve system-upset recovery time and overall operational stability. Continue Reading

Where Did the Water Go?

By Jared Alder, MS 

In England, it is estimated that around 700 million gallons of waterthe equivalent of 1,200 Olympicssize swimming poolsis lost every day to leaks in the country’s vast water system. Often the water just rises out to the pavement and runs down the roadUtilities spend countless hours and a great deal of money and other resources trying to locate the sources of leaks, often tearing up roads multiple times in this search. 

During large rainstorms, leaks can occur from the added amount of water that seeps into the system via the same openings where water exits from the system during dry times. During the recent Tropical Storm Cristobal in the Gulf Coast area of the United States, utilities reported sewage spills that occurred during and after the stormThe spills are a result of a complex underground sewer system that is not capable of handling modern weather events. Large rainfall events, such as tropical storms and hurricanes, can overwhelm aging infrastructureincluding old wastewater pipes, pump stations, and, in some cases, treatment facilities.  [Read more…]

Water Master Plans

By Heather Jennings, PE

When I worked with engineering firms, there were a lot of water master plans being developed. Many of them were updates, as the plans had been around for 5–10 years and needed revision. Some master plans evaluated water and wastewater systems from scratch. All of these were interesting to me due to the wide array of information that had to be gathered and brought into one document. In other words, “one document to rule them all”—if you don’t mind a modified quote from fantasy fiction. [Read more…]

Breaking Down COD

By Heather Jennings, PE 

When I first came into the water field in the 2000s, the general rule of Chemical Oxygen Demand to Biochemical Oxygen Demand (or COD to BOD5) was 2:1. That was pretty much all you needed to know in order to understand whether something could be treated chemically, physically, or biologically. Now, the wastewater industry has moved toward COD instead of BOD5. The reason that COD is sometimes preferred is that BOD5 doesn’t take into account the organics that become biomass nor the non-biodegradable carbonaceous matter. COD can also be evaluated in the field with simple test kits, whereas most operators must send their BOD5 tests to third-party labs and wait weeks for results.   [Read more…]

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…]

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