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Cold Climate Performance Analysis of On-Site Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems

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Household on-site septic systems with secondary wastewater treatment in Anchorage, Alaska, were sampled and analyzed for performance parameters during the winter to spring months. System types included intermittent dosing sand filters (ISF), three types of recirculating trickling filters (RTF), and suspended-growth aeration tanks. Total nitrogen from the trickling filter and aeration tank effluent was fairly uniform, at approximately 30 mg/L. Total suspended solids (TSS) means were mostly less than 15 mg/L. The 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) showed considerable variability, with means ranging from 9.2 mg/L for ISFs up to 39.5 mg/L for one type of RTF, even though this type has shown excellent results in several test programs. The data suggested that effluent temperature within the sample range had almost no effect on effluent concentrations of BOD5 or TSS and only a small effect on the removal of total nitrogen. Non-climatic factors were probably of equal importance to treatment results.
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Keywords: aerobic treatment; nitrate removal; nitrification; nutrient removal; on-site treatment; sand filter; septic system; temperature effects; treatment system performance; trickling filter; wastewater treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, URL:

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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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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