INTEGRATED POND AND BNR ACTIVATED SLUDGE TREATMENT PROCESS TO ACHIEVE RELIABLE NITROGEN AND PHOSPHORUS REMOVAL

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1 INTEGRATED POND AND BNR ACTIVATED SLUDGE TREATMENT PROCESS TO ACHIEVE RELIABLE NITROGEN AND PHOSPHORUS REMOVAL Annalien Toerien Golder Associates Africa, PO Box 6001, Halfway House, ABSTRACT Advanced wastewater treatment for smaller communities can be achieved without expensive plant upgrades. Existing pond treatment systems can be integrated successfully with Biological Nutrient Removal Activated Treatment technology. The combination of anaerobic ponds and activated sludge can be implemented in a series or parallel configuration, with existing oxidation ponds as a side stream treatment process or converted to Polishing Wetlands. The key process consideration is maintenance of a favourable COD:N ratio for effective nutrient removal in the activated sludge process. INTRODUCTION In many catchments stricter discharge standards are being introduced, based on: the sensitivity of the catchments and downstream users the receiving water quality limitations in already impacted river reaches and impoundments the access to improved technology and finance to enable the treatment of effluent to higher standards compared to past practices an increase in public awareness and regulatory pressure regarding the environmental protection. Due to increased urbanisation and developments with associated housing and the introduction of waterborne sanitation, sewage flows have increased substantially in many towns and cities. Pressure on the available land and resources has also increased. The consequence is that space is constrained in some areas and large pond systems treatment facilities may not be viable anymore. With increased pressure for effective nutrient removal, processes that can do so naturally, rather than chemically, is favoured. The challenge is to incorporate existing pond infrastructure with new and advanced technology in order to: minimize capital investment and operational costs reliably treat effluent to achieve the effluent discharge standards applicable especially N and P removal minimize the impact on land availability, surrounding communities and downstream users BACKGROUND Pond systems are mainly used for the treatment of domestic wastewater from smaller communities, where the main focus is the removal of COD and TSS. Very often, the ratio of nutrients in the wastewater is predominantly COD and nitrogen, due to the concentrated nature of the effluent. Anaerobic ponds are effective in the removal of carbon, while facultative and oxidation ponds provide some polishing treatment to decrease nutrients but performance is sometimes poor, especially in winter. Nitrogen (N) is more effectively removed than phosphorus (P). The nutrient ratio in pond effluent is therefore changed to low carbon (COD) and an imbalance between N and Proceedings of the 2004 Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) Biennial Conference 2 6 May 2004 ISBN: Cape Town, South Africa Produced by: Document Transformation Technologies Organised by Event Dynamics

2 P, should further nutrient removal be required. BNR (biological nutrient removal) systems are activated sludge systems that create conditions that enable the utilization and therefore removal of not only carbon, but also nitrogen and phosphorus. The ratio between COD : N : P are required in a relatively narrow band to enable the biochemical reactions to sustain the utilization and removal of both nutrients (NSP) within the required ranges. To achieve this, pond systems and BNR activated sludge treatment processes can be combined successfully. PROCESS CONFIGURATION The integration of ponds and BNR activated sludge can be either in series or in a parallel process configuration. Two possible combinations are discussed in more detail. Raw Sewage Mechanical Screening Vortex Degritters Measuring Flume Primary Clarifiers Fermentation Oxidation Ponds Secondary Clarification Chlorine Disinfection Activated WAS Thickeners Dry Belt Press Anaerobic Digestion Figure 1. Series configuration of integrated ponds and BNR processes. Series Configuration This configuration consists of the following (refer to Figure 1): Preliminary treatment screening, degritting and flow measurement; Primary treatment primary clarification, with sludge fermentation for the production of volatile fatty acids (VFA) and anaerobic pond treatment of the primary effluent and primary sludge. Oxidation pond effluent is returned to the anaerobic ponds and utilised as an oxygen-rich surface water layer for odour control. Secondary treatment BNR activated sludge treatment with secondary clarification, sludge return and final disinfection. treatment anaerobic or aerobic sludge digestion and dewatering on either drying beds or by mechanical means.

3 This configuration maximises the availability of readily biodegradable carbon in the anaerobic zone for the uptake of Phosphorus. Nitrification and denitrification, as well as final carbon polishing is subsequently achieved in the BNR reactor. The process configuration is a variation of the well-known PETRO TM process, and has been successfully applied. Parallel Configuration The parallel configuration of ponds and the BNR activated sludge process, consists of the following process components (refer to Figure 2): preliminary treatment screening, degritting and flow measurement; the raw sewage feed stream is divided between the ponds and BNR reactor in parallel, to provide a high carbon feed stream directly to the activated sludge process. This enhances the enhanced biological P-removal; anaerobic pond treatment, including primary sludge digestion of the raw sewage; with sufficient reduction of the COD in the ponds, a nitrification trickling filter can be incorporated on a recycle stream to modify the COD : N ratio and to improve overall nitrogen removal. The recycle stream will also provide a NO 3 -N rich surface water layer for odour control; activated sludge treatment BNR activated sludge treatment with secondary clarification, sludge return and final disinfection. The feed to the activated sludge process is a combination of the treated pond effluent and the high carbon, raw sewage feed; sludge treatment anaerobic or aerobic digestion and dewatering A9 Nitrification Towers Preliminary Treatment AP Recycle Pumps Raw Wastewater Bar Screen Manual Screening Grit Removal A Activated Reactor Bioclarifier Chlorine Disinfection A Activated Reactor Bioclarifier RAS Pumps Aerobic Digestion Polishing Wetlands Drying Beds Plant Effluent Parallel Integrated Ponds / BNR Activated Process Figure 2. Parallel configuration of integrated ponds and BNR processes BENEFITS The benefits of integrating ponds and BNR activated sludge processes are:

4 smaller sized activated sludge reactors due to the lower COD load feed to the BNR process. The bulk of reactor tankage is typically required for carbon removal. This can be reduced substantially with pre-treating the wastewater in anaerobic ponds; improved COD : N : P ratios optimise the overall performance of the treatment process; multiple barriers are put in place to provide at least partial treatment of the wastewater before discharge, should any individual treatment component experience an upset condition; existing infrastructure is integrated with modern technology to improve treatment and to successfully achieve strict Nitrogen and Phosphorus discharge standards; some of the redundant oxidation ponds on existing treatment plants can be retrofitted as wetlands to provide final polishing of the treated effluent. This also provides an additional barrier to protect against breakthroughs in the event of process or plant upsets; stormflow attenuation can be done by utilising some of the ponds for this purpose. This will protect the downstream processes against excessive hydraulic loads that may wash the biomass out. CHALLENGES Ponds exhibit variable performance due to seasonal variations in temperature and solar radiation, with the consequent drop in performance. Treatment plants should therefore be designed with sufficient flexibility to enable adjustments to be made to improve the effluent quality. Variability in feed to either the BNR process or anaerobic ponds can be done by controlling the percentage feed to either of the two processes. The entry point of the treated anaerobic pond effluent into the BNR process can also be adjusted to any of the zones. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS AND TARGETS The concept of integrated pond and BNR activated sludge treatment processes have been implemented at a number of wastewater treatment plants now under construction and some in operation. Wastewater treatment plants under planning and construction include the following: Mothutlung - Madibeng Municipality (2.4 Ml/d) Mahwereleng - Mogalakwena Municipality (5.8 Ml/d) Wastewater treatment plants in operation include those at: Emthonjeni Highveld District Council (1.5 Ml/d) Parallel configuration Rietgat Tshwane Metropolitan Council (27.5 Ml/d capacity) Series configuration Table 1. Raw wastewater quality data. Raw Wastewater Quality Parameter 50 percentile 95 percentile Alkalinity (mg CaCO 3 /l) TSS (mg/l) TKN (mg N/l) Ammonia (mg N/l) COD (mg COD/l) TP (mg P/l) PO 4 (mg P/l)

5 Typical domestic wastewater quality treatment in integrated Pond-BNR activated sludge processes are summarised in Table 1. The typical final treated effluent quality from integrated Pond-BNR activated sludge processes is summarised in Table 2. Table 2: Final effluent quality data. Treated wastewater Quality Parameter Based on the 50 percentile conditions TSS (mg/l) < 20 Nitrate (mg N/l) < 8 Ammonia (mg N/l) < 3 COD (mg COD/l) < 60 PO 4 (mg P/l) < 1 CONCLUSIONS The conclusions of the full scale integration of ponds and BNR activated sludge processes are as follows: it is not necessary to abandon ponds when upgrading a plant to achieve strict N and P standards, in fact to abandon existing ponds in favour of modern technology may be a wasteful use of available infrastructure treatment of wastewater in ponds will modify the desirable COD : N : P ratio for biological nutrient removal. This can be rectified by a number of process refinements including: - side stream flow of high carbon (COD) containing streams directly to the BNR activated sludge treatment process - optimised Nitrogen removal in the pond system by incorporation of nitrification trickling filters on a recycle stream seasonal adjustment to the integrated pond and BNR activated sludge system may be required to account for the variable performance of pond treatment systems.

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