Development and optimization of remedial measures to control filamentous bacteria in a full-scale biological nutrient removal plant
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Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) frequently experience bulking and foaming episodes, which present operational challenges by affecting sludge settling due to the excessive proliferation of filamentous bacteria. Various control strategies have been implemented over the years to minimize filamentous growth, however, filamentous bulking still remains an unresolved problem in many WWTPs worldwide. The current study focused on developing and optimizing remedial measures viz., specific and non-specific methods to reduce problematic filamentous bacteria in a full-scale WWTP. Specific methods demonstrated the influence of plant operational parameters viz. chemical oxygen demand, influent N-NH4+, food to microorganism ratio, dissolved oxygen, temperature and pH on the abundance of filamentous bacteria. A cumulative logit model was used to determine the significant relationships between the individual filamentous bacteria at present and the prevailing plant operational parameters. Using the above statistical approach, significant observations and predictions were made with respect to the individual filamentous growth under certain operational parameters. With further validation, this model could be successfully applied to other full-scale WWTPs identifying specific parameters that could contribute to filamentous bulking, thus providing a useful guide for regulating specific filamentous growth. Non-specific control methods such as chlorine, ultraviolet irradiation and ozone treatment were investigated on filamentous bacteria using a live/dead staining technique. To achieve at least 50% reduction of filamentous bacteria, a chlorine dose of 10 mg Cl2/L was required, all filaments were killed at a dose of 22 mg Cl2/L. In addition, an effective UV and ozone dose of 4418.91 μw seconds/cm2 and ±20 mg O3/L respectively, was required to kill 50% of the filamentous bacterial population. Among the three non-specific methods, ozone treatment seemed to be an effective method in controlling the filamentous population with a low negative impact to the surrounding environment. This study serves as a useful guide on the problems and control of filamentous bulking in activated sludge plants.