Microscopic evaluation of activated sludge from eleven wastewater treatment plants in Cape Town, South Africa
Welz, Pamela Jean
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From June to November 2007, a microscopic analysis was conducted on the activated sludge from eleven selected wastewater treatment plants (WWTP's) belonging to the City of Cape Town. The primary objective was the identification of the dominant and secondary filamentous organisms. Other important criteria included were the floe character, diversity, filament index (Fl) and identification of the protozoan and metazoan communities. The operational data determined from routine analyses of the sludge, influent and effluent were used to assess the relationship of the filamentous population to wastewater characteristics and to compare this with previous findings. Fl values of >3 and dissolved sludge volume indices (DSVI's) of >150 were chosen as representing the possibility of bulking conditions being present. The five most prevalent dominant filaments were Type 0092, Type 1851, actinomycetes, Microthrix parvicella and Type 021N, being present in 74%, 31%, 22%, 17% and 14% of samples respectively. Type 0092 did not appear to be associated with bulking in any of the WWTP's, although it was often incidentally present as a co-dominant species when bulking conditions existed. All three WWTP's with the Modified Ludzack-Ettinger configuration harboured Type 1851 as the major dominant species, irrespective of whether the plants treated domestic or industrial effluent. Conditions suggestive of bulking were present in two of these WWTP's. Contrary to expectations, Type 1851 was often found as a dominant species where domestic waste was the primary influent. Type 021N and actinomycetes were strongly implicated when bulking occurred. The overgrowth of these filaments appeared to be related to factors such as nutrient deficiency (Type 021N) or the presence of large amounts of low molecular weight substances in the influent. Microthrix parvicella did not cause major bulking problems. There was a strong association between low levels of nitrates/nitrites in the clarifier supernatant and good phosphorous removal, irrespective of the configuration of the WWTP. The converse was also true.