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Maybe It's Not Oil and Grease Plugging the Sewers or Filling Up The Lift Station Some Unusual Slimy, Gooey, Yuckies in Collection Systems

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Biofilms are agglomerations of either single species of bacteria or many species as well as other microbes and are quite ubiquitous in the world, occurring on both living and inert objects. The microbes live within and thrive in a protective "slime" covering made of polysaccharides and can form on any surface with water contact and bacteria. Biofilms have a huge influence in the health field, having been implicated in numerous infections which are extremely difficult to control. Based on a review of the literature, anywhere between 60% and 80% of microbial infections are caused by biofilms. Biofilms are well known in wastewater and water systems and can be both useful in treatment processes as well as detrimental. In this study, massive growths of biofilm were discovered to be occurring in a sewer line downstream of a food manufacturer of candy and cereal products (referred to as Industry A in this paper) which utilized a dissolved air floatation (DAF) treatment system for grease removal. Blanket formation in wet wells is also a well known problem in wastewater collection systems. Grease is often implicated as the main cause of blanket formation. In this study, blanket formation was causing interference with equipment in a wet well and necessitated frequent cleaning of the wet well. The cause of this problem was not directly from grease and was ultimately traced to the DAF chemicals used by a food manufacturer which produces mayonnaise and salad dressings (referred to as Industry B in this paper). Both facilities hold pretreatment discharge permits for control of fats, oils, and grease (FOG). Initially both problems appeared to be related, but were eventually identified as distinctly separate.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • 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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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