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Handbook of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations


There is an old saying in wastewater treatment: Odor is not a problem until the neighbors complain.3 Experience has shown that when treatment plant odor is apparent, it is not long before the neighbors do complain. Thus, odor control is an important factor affecting the performance of any wastewater treatment plant, especially in regards to public relations. According to Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., in wastewater operations,
The principal sources of odors are from (1) septic wastewater containing hydrogen sulde and odorous compounds, (2) industrial wastes discharged into the collection system, (3) screenings and unwanted grit, (4) septage handling facilities, (5) scum on primary settling tanks, (6) organically overloaded treatment processes, (7) [biosolids]-thickening tanks, (8) waste gas-burning operations where lower-than optimum temperatures are used, (9) [biosolids]-conditioning and dewatering faculties, (10) [biosolids] incineration, (11) digested [biosolids] in drying beds or [biosolids]-holding basins, and (12) [biosolids]-composting operations.4

Note: Considerably more chlorine is required for disinfection of wastewater (40 to 60 g/m3) than for domestic water supplies (2 to 4 g/m3). Many factors must be considered when choosing the type of chemical to be used for disinfection. These factors include: contact time, intensity and nature of the physical agent, temperature, and type and number of organisms.


In wastewater treatment, chemical precipitation is used to remove phosphorus and to enhance suspended-solids removal in sedimentation processes. The most common chemicals used are aluminum hydroxide (alum), ferric chloride, ferric sulfate, and lime.

In wastewater treatment, adsorption, using granular activated carbon (GAC), is utilized to remove organics not removed and other chemical treatment processes. Adsorption can also be used for the dechlorination of wastewater before nal discharge of treated efuent. Typically, adsorption (using GAC) is used on chlorinated water supplies that would not contain pathogenic bacteria, but nonpathogenic bacteria may be present in the water supply and grow on the media.

Odor control can be accomplished by chemical or physical means. Physical means include utilizing buffer zones between the process operation and the public, making operation changes, controlling discharges to collection systems, containments, dilution, fresh air, adsorption, using activated carbon, scrubbing towers, and other means. Odor control by chemical means involves scrubbing with various chemicals, chemical oxidation, and chemical precipitation methods. In scrubbing with chemicals, odorous gases are passed through specially designed scrubbing towers to remove odors. The commonly used chemical scrubbing solutions are chlorine and potassium permanganate. When hydrogen sulde concentrations are high, sodium hydroxide is often used. In chemical oxidation applications, the oxidants chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium permanganate are used to oxidize the odor compounds. Chemical precipitation works to precipitate suldes from odor compounds using iron and other metallic salts.

Chemical coagulation conditions water for further treatment by the removal of: 1. Turbidity, color, and bacteria 2. Iron and manganese 3. Tastes, odors, and organic pollutants In water treatment, normal sedimentation processes do not always settle out particles efciently. This is especially the case when attempting to remove particles of less than 50 m in diameter. In some instances, it is possible to agglomerate (to make or form into a rounded mass) particles into masses or groups. These rounded masses are of increased size and therefore increased settling velocities, in some instances. For colloidal-sized particles, however, agglomeration is difcult turbid water resulting from colloidal particles is difcult to clarify without special treatment. Chemical coagulation is usually accomplished by the addition of metallic salts such as aluminum sulfate (alum) or ferric chloride. Alum is the most commonly used coagulant in water treatment and is most effective between pH ranges of 5.0 and 7.5. Sometimes polymer is added to alum to help form small oc together for faster settling.

In water and wastewater practice, disinfection is often accomplished using chemicals. The purpose of disinfection is to selectively destroy disease-causing organisms. Chemicals commonly used in disinfection include chlorine and its compounds (most widely used), ozone, brome, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and others.

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Basic Water Chemistry


Ferric chloride, effective down to a pH of 4.5 is sometimes used. In addition to pH, a variety of other factors inuence the chemical coagulation process, including 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Temperature Inuent quality Alkalinity Type and amount of coagulant used Type and length of occulation Type and length of mixing

green algae. Tastes and odors associated with dissolved gases and some volatile organic materials are normally removed by oxygen in aeration processes.


The reduction of hardness, or softening, is a process commonly practiced in water treatment. Chemical precipitation and ion exchange are the two softening processes that are most commonly used. Softening of hard water is desired (for domestic users) to reduce the amount of soap used, increase the life of water heaters, and to reduce encrustation of pipes (cementing together the individual lter media grains). In chemical precipitation, it is necessary to adjust pH. To precipitate the two ions most commonly associated with hardness in water, calcium (Ca+2) and magnesium (Mg+2), the pH must be raised to about 9.4 for calcium and about 10.6 for magnesium. To raise the pH to the required levels lime is added. Chemical precipitation is accomplished by converting calcium hardness to calcium carbonate and magnesium hardness to magnesium hydroxide. This is normally accomplished by using the lime-soda ash or the caustic soda processes. The lime-soda ash process reduces the total mineral content of the water, removes suspended solids, removes iron and manganese, and reduces color and bacterial numbers. The process has a few disadvantages. McGhee points out, for example, the process produces large quantities of sludge and requires careful operation. In addition, as stated earlier, if the pH is not properly adjusted, it may create operational problems downstream of the process.5 In the caustic soda process, the caustic soda reacts with the alkalinity to produce carbonate ions for reduction with calcium. The process works to precipitate calcium carbonate in a uidized bed of sand grains, steel grit, marble chips, or some other similar dense material. As particles grow in size by deposition of CaCO3, they migrate to the bottom of the uidized bed from which they are removed. This process has the advantages of requiring short detention times (about 8 seconds) and producing no sludge.

10.10.6 TASTE


Although odor can be a problem with wastewater treatment, the taste and odor parameter is only associated with potable water. Either organic or inorganic materials may produce tastes and odors in water. The perceptions of taste and odor are closely related and often confused by water practitioners as well as by consumers. It is difcult to precisely measure either one. Experience has shown that a substance that produces an odor in water almost invariably imparts a perception of taste as well. This is not the case. Taste is generally attributed to mineral substances in the water. Most of these minerals affect water taste but do not cause odors. Along with the impact minerals can have on water taste, there are other substances or practices that can affect both water tastes and odors (e.g., metals, salts from the soil, constituents of wastewater, and end products generated from biological reactions). When water has a distinct taste but no odor, the taste might be the result of inorganic substances. Anyone who has tasted alkaline water has also tasted its biting bitterness. Then there are the salts; they not only give water that salty taste but also contribute to its bitter taste. Other than from natural causes, water can take a distinctive color or taste, or both, from human contamination of the water. Organic materials can produce both taste and odor in water. Petroleum-based products are probably the prime contributors to both these problems in water. Biological degradation or decomposition of organics in surface waters also contributes to both taste and odor problems in water. Algae are another problem. Certain species of algae produce oily substances that may result in both taste and odor. Synergy can also work to produce taste and odor problems in water. Mixing water and chlorine is one example. In regards to chemically treating water for odor and taste problems, oxidants such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ozone, and potassium permanganate can be used. These chemicals are especially effective when water is associated with an earthy or musty odor caused by the nonvolatile metabolic products of actinomycetes and blue-

Recarbonation (stabilization) is the adjustment of the ionic condition of a water so that it will neither corrode pipes nor deposit calcium carbonate, which produces an encrusting lm. During or after the lime-soda ash softening process, this recarbonation is accomplished through the reintroduction of carbon dioxide into the water. Lime softening of hard water supersaturates the water with calcium carbonate and may have a pH of greater than 10. Because of this,

2003 by CRC Press LLC