Skip to main content


Buy Article:

$9.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Or sign up for a free trial

Resulting from 1987 modifications to the Clean Water Act, water quality criteria were adopted for numerous elements and compounds with direct application to NPDES discharge limits. However, various compounds were not assigned criteria despite widespread use and perceived or real toxicity. In this case study, stringent pre-treatment limits for formaldehyde were imposed from an industrial discharger. The basis of these limits was:

Utilization of a conservative water quality criterion given little toxicological data for formaldehyde,

A lack of understanding of the effectiveness of biological treatment of formaldehyde, which was compounded by

Deficiencies in low-level formaldehyde chemical analysis.

This 18 month project was performed as part of an administrative order in this paper facility/s pre-treatment permit. Interim formaldehyde limits were included in the permit, and the goal of the study was to develop final permit limits for the facility which discharged between 300,00 and 400,000 gpd to a 1 mgd POTW.

The project was initiated with research of formaldehyde analytical techniques and final utilization of a NIOSH methodology as the most repeatable and representative. This methodology appeared to eliminate the numerous false positives which were found in previous efforts for this discharger. Utilizing this methodology, a year long assessment of the pre-treated discharge, POTW headworks, and POTW effluent loadings was undertaken. Data gathered for this effort was concentrated in the first six months of the study with reduced frequency sampling undertaken for the last six months.

A series of POTW effluent ‘non-detects’ was observed. This differed markedly from previous POTW assessments and was believed to be more representative than previous results due to the degree of QA in chemical method selection, the repeatability of results, and the results of split sampling and analysis. The POTW was observed to treat the formaldehyde nearly completely within a wide headworks loading range.

In a separate effort, refined water quality criteria were developed which were used to calculate final permit limits for this discharger, integrating the effectiveness of biological treatment and these relaxed criteria. Lastly, a technology assessment was performed which showed that few technologies were available which could dependably reduce formaldehyde inside the complex paper facility waste stream matrix. Cost analysis was performed that showed that these pre-treatment steps were typically an order of magnitude more expensive than available POTW treatment. Integrating the results of the study and pre-treatment concept design, final limits were proposed and accepted by the regulatory agency which ended a long, contentious permitting struggle.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Data/Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

    A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation includes access to most papers presented at the annual WEF Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) and other conferences held since 2000. Subscription access begins 12 months after the event and is valid for 12 months from month of purchase. A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is included in Water Environment Federation (WEF) membership.

    WEF Members: Sign in (right panel) with your IngentaConnect user name and password to receive complimentary access. Access begins 12 months after the conference or event
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • About WEF Proceedings
  • WEFTEC Conference Information
  • Learn about the many other WEF member benefits and join today
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more