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Biomass Analysis – and the Lagoon Winterization Program™

July 4th, 2004

In support of the Pulp and Paper Industry, Columbia Analytical Services (CAS) and Advanced Biological Services, Inc. (ABS) provide expanded and improved options for wastewater treatment system operators. Chemical analysis alone is not always enough to properly manage a wastewater treatment system and avoid permit violations. Obtaining regular and detailed biological information can be the key to a better understanding and management of system performance, while avoiding costly problems. Biological problems can manifest as poor settleability from filamentous bulking, as Zoogloeal bulking, or as high turbidity in the final effluent. These problems could be due to dispersed floc structure related to loading problems or poor treatment results due to toxicity issues. by Dr. Rob Whiteman, Guest Writer, Advanced Biological Services, Inc.

Biomass analysis can be defined as evaluation of the overall health of the biology of a wastewater treatment system. This involves examining floc structure, higher life forms (HLFs), the degree of undesirable microbes (such as filamentous types or Zoogloea), as well as the viability and diversity of the bacteria (the workhorse of the system). Sometimes operators carry out microscopic analyses, focusing solely on HLFs. While HLFs are indicators of health, viable counts and evaluation of ALL of the biological data (including floc structure, degree of filamentous bacteria, presence or absence of Zoogloea as well as HLFs) determine true treatment system health. Use of biomass analysis can determine biological problems early on.

CAS and ABS can arrange for sample collection or provide written instructions to train plant staff on how to properly collect the samples.

Clients receive a report that includes digital pictures of the treatment system’s biomass. Each report contains concerns regarding the state of the biology with recommended changes to improve the operating conditions of the system.

Another important issue to understand is seasonal fluctuations for wastewater treatment plant biological health. In the winter, lower temperatures in combination with a lack of nutrients or dissolved oxygen, and surgeloads can result in the potential violation of an NPDES permit. As a result, ABS has developed a “Lagoon Winterization ProgramTM” to provide early warning and mitigation of potential biomass problems.

Under this program, ABS evaluates a system for winterization and recommends specific steps needed to enable smooth operation as winter approaches. The program begins with obtaining baseline data to measure health of the biomass and monthly checks to provide early warning of potential problems. Archiving of biomass for use in system recovery is also offered.

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