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Carbon and Nutrient Removal from On-Site Wastewater Using Extended-Aeration Activated Sludge and Ion Exchange

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The need to improve on-site wastewater treatment processes is being realized as populations move into more environmentally sensitive regions and regulators adopt the total maximum daily load approach to watershed management. Under many conditions, septic systems do not provide adequate treatment; therefore, advanced systems are required. These systems must remove significant amounts of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids, and substantially nitrify, denitrify, and remove phosphorus. Many existing advanced on-site wastewater systems effectively remove BOD, suspended solids, and ammonia, but few substantially denitrify and uptake phosphorus. The purpose of this research was to design and test modifications to an existing on-site wastewater treatment system to improve denitrification and phosphorus removal. The Nayadic (Consolidated Treatment Systems, Inc., Franklin, Ohio), an established, commercially available, extended-aeration, activated sludge process, was used to represent a typical existing system. Several modifications were considered based on a literature review, and the option with the best potential was tested. To improve denitrification, a supplemental treatment tank was installed before the Nayadic and a combination flow splitter, sump, and pump box with a recirculation system was installed after it. A recirculation pump returned a high proportion of the system effluent back to the supplemental treatment tank. Two supplemental treatment tank sizes, three flowrates, and three recirculation rates were tested. Actual wastewater was dosed as brief slugs to the system in accordance with a set schedule. Several ion-exchange resins housed in a contact column were tested on the effluent for their potential to remove phosphorus. Low effluent levels of five-day biochemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, and total nitrogen were achieved and substantial phosphorous removal was also achieved using a 3780-L supplemental treatment tank, a recirculation ratio of 5:1, and a fine-grain activated aluminum-oxide-exchange media. Good results were also obtained with an 1890-L supplemental treatment tank and a recirculation ratio of 3:1. The most significant benefit of the supplemental treatment tank, in combination with the recirculation system, appears to be the low nitrogen concentration dosed to the Nayadic. By reducing the nitrogen concentration and spreading out its mass over time during no-flow periods, the Nayadic's inherent low-level denitrifying capacity was more closely matched and effective treatment was achieved.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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