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JEA's Path out of Biosolids Purgatory through Anaerobic Digestion and Drying Enhancements

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In 2004 JEA (the electric and wastewater utility in Jacksonville, FL) was receiving more residuals than the Buckman wastewater treatment plant (Buckman or WWTP) was able to process. Buckman treats approximately 32 mgd of wastewater through a combination of primary and advanced secondary treatment. The plant also processes sludge produced at 15 other plants from the combined treatment of an additional 47 mgd of wastewater for a total sludge production associated with treatment of roughly 80 mgd. In 2004, the thermal dryer system was overloaded and the anaerobic digestion system was being operated at near washout being operated at near washout conditions. Figure 1 shows Digester 1 at the Buckman Regional Biosolids Management Facility (BRBMF).

These issues required development of short term, cost-effective strategies to bring the BRBMF under control. The rapid population growth in JEA's service territory and the potential to assume the operation of 4 to 5 mgd of additional capacity in some new JEA WWTPs made the need to develop mid- and long-range strategies apparent. In response, JEA convened a "Blue Ribbon Panel" of sludge treatment/biosolids experts from selected consulting firms and various divisions within JEA; this panel was organized similarly to the highly successful expert group that developed the utility's biological nutrient removal (BNR) strategies. The Biosolids Blue Ribbon Panel included John Willis and Ted Hortenstine of Brown and Caldwell; John Donovan and Richard Moore of CDM; Michael Bullard and Pat Davis of Hazen and Sawyer; and as well as Scott Schultz, Scott Kelly, Colin Groff and David Kowalski from JEA.

This paper summarizes some identified improvements that were implemented on a fast track basis by JEA staff; results from a digester investigation by Brown and Caldwell; and identified the next steps to further alleviate JEA's solids handling limitations. The digestion evaluation has identified means to increase Buckman's overall digestion MCRT from less than 10 days to between 25 and 35 days for an extremely cost effective investment of roughly $1 million.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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