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Water, Vol. 14, Pages 3245: Effect of Attached Growth on Treatment Performance in Waste Stabilization Ponds

Water doi: 10.3390/w14203245

Authors:
Yirui Lian
Liah X. Coggins
Jessica Hay
Andrew van de Ven
Anas Ghadouani

Waste stabilization ponds (WSPs) rely upon natural biochemical reactions for treatment and are used widely across the world. However, WSPs often fail to meet treatment performance expectations due to insufficient hydraulic performance. Installation of baffles can improve hydraulic performance of WSPs by increasing the mean residence time, reducing dead zones, and short circuiting, thus improving pond treatment performance. Theoretically, baffles with the ability to sustain attached growth will increase the possible attachment area of microorganisms and further contribute to nutrient removal. However, to date there have been no full-scale studies exploring attached growth baffles in WSPs. The main objective of this study was to investigate and quantify the effect of attached growth baffles on WSP treatment performance, specifically in terms of improvements in treatment performance provided by attached biofilm compared with hydraulic improvement. A first-order kinetic model was used to predict biological oxygen demand (BOD) removal efficiency, including suspended and biofilm biomass reactions, to determine whether attached growth or hydraulics had the most influence on performance improvement. At the operational WSP scale, we found that although the presence of attached growth on baffles results in a modest (~0.6%) improvement in treatment performance, the most influential factor for improving treatment was improved hydraulics (~5.3%). In model generalization, the change in biofilm thickness and biofilm area had less effect on treatment in WSPs in higher organic loading scenarios; however, a considerable improvement (~12%) in treatment efficiency could be achieved by doubling the total biofilm area. Overall, this study shows that baffles can not only improve WSP hydraulics but can also be used as a medium for increasing biofilm area to improve WSP biological treatment efficiency.

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