Topicȱ X Wastewater

5

Engineering

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Describe the domestic sanitary pipework system;

2.

Identify three types of public wastewater collection systems;

3.

List the constituents and quality standards of wastewater;

4.

Describe the process of wastewater treatment; and

5.

Describe the process of sludge treatment and disposal.

X INTRODUCTION
In Malaysia, the technologies used in the past for disposal of sewage until the last
30 years include overhang latrines, pit, privy, bucket systems and pour flush
systems. Many of these systems still exist today. The wastewater (sewage),
whether domestic or industrial, is allowed to discharge to the nearest
watercourse without treatment.
However, with increase in population, pollution and public health awareness,
wastewater treatment has become essential. The last two decades have seen the
emergence of new technologies in the form of oxidation ponds, aerated lagoons,
package systems and a variety of mechanical plants. The driving force behind the
development and implementation of new technologies at the turn of the last
century was to control waterborne diseases. But today, the shift is more towards
regulatory compliance, namely, higher effluent standards and enhanced
environmental awareness.

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The wastewater collected from the internal sanitary pipework systems from
homes, commercial establishments and industrial plants is discharged through
pipes (sewers) flowing partially full but not under pressure. Wherever possible,
wastewater flow should be under gravity. If this is not possible, then the
wastewater has to be force pumped. This system of sewers will converge
eventually into the wastewater treatment plant. This chapter will describe the
domestic sanitary pipework system and the 3 types of public wastewater
collection systems. An understanding of the constituents and quality standards
of wastewater is then introduced before the treatment process of wastewater is
described. The chapter ends with a description on the treatment process and
disposal of the end product (sludge) of the wastewater treatment process.

5.1

DOMESTIC SANITARY PIPEWORK SYSTEM

The sanitary fittings of a building may consist of sinks, baths, showers, water
closets (WC) and washbasins. These sanitary fittings discharge wastewater along
a network of gas and watertight pipes which together form the sanitary
pipework system of the building. This system conveys both solids and liquids
into the public wastewater collection system and ultimately to the treatment
plant.
Pipes which convey liquids only are generally known as waste pipes and those
which convey solid matter and liquids as soil pipes.

5.1.1

Types of Sanitary Pipework System

Sanitary pipework systems have evolved from the two-pipe system as shown in
Figure 5.1 to the one-pipe system as shown in Figure 5.2 and to the present day
system called the single stack system as shown in Figure 5.3, with the efficiency
and economy of the system as the main considerations. The main disadvantage
of the first two systems is the amount of pipework involved which makes it not
so economical and the pipes not so easy to conceal.
The single stack system has all the sanitary appliances discharging their
wastewater into a single vertical pipe called the soil and vent stack, therefore
doing away with any trap-ventilating pipe which is present in the two older
systems. However, trap-ventilating pipes may still have to be used in very
special circumstances.

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Figure 5.1: Two-pipe system
Source: Blower (1995)
g
pp y

Figure 5.2: One-pipe system
Source: Blower (1995)

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Figure 5.3: Single stack system
Source: Osborne (1997)

In the sanitary pipework system, great care should be taken to ensure that water
seals or traps in sanitary fittings are not broken after use. This may occur due to
induced syphonage which happens when the seal is sucked away by the force of
water discharging from a branch pipe on the floor or floors and passing down
the vertical pipe. The rush of water down the pipe absorbs air from the branch
pipe of the fittings below and this causes the external air pressure on the seal to
force the water down the vertical pipe.
This can be overcome by considering the following factors:
(a)

Limitations on the length of waste pipes;

(b) Limitations on their fall and in some cases an increase in their diameter; and
(c)

The branch entry of a WC into the main stack and the positioning of waste
pipes in relation to this.

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SELF CHECK 5.7
In circumstance where activities within a building are complex and it is
not possible to group sanitary fittings around a centralized stack, how
can this problem be solved?
Look around the house that you are staying. Does it employ the twopipe system, one-pipe system or the single stack system?

EXERCISE 5.1
Describe the single stack system.

5.2

WASTEWATER COLLECTION SYSTEMS

The 3 wastewater collection systems are as follows:
(a)

Separate Sewers (as in Figure 5.4) ă this network of sewers transport only
wastewater. The surface water or storm water is discharged separately in a
drainage system to the nearest watercourse for discharge without treatment.
This will lead to a minimum amount of wastewater to be treated in the
wastewater treatment plant, thus, overall economy. However, more drains
are required and it is often necessary to cross drains one over the other. This
is the system practiced in Malaysia.

(b) Combined Sewers (as in Figure 5.5) ă in this system, both storm water and
wastewater are collected in the same sewer. This is a simple and economic
method since there is no duplication of drain. This method has the
advantages of easy maintenance as all drains are flushed when it rains and it
is impossible to connect to the wrong sewer. Dry weather flow in the
combined sewers is intercepted and conveyed to the treatment plant for
processing, but during storms, flow in excess of plant capacity is by-passed
directly to the receiving watercourse. This can cause significant pollution
and a health hazard. This system still exists in several large cities.

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(c)

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Partially Combined Sewers (as in Figure 5.6) ă this system is a compromise
of the first two systems. However a certain portion of the storm water is
channeled separately via a drainage system. The amount of surface water to
be discharged into the combined sewer can be adjusted according to the
capacity of the sewage treatment plant.

Figure 5.4: Separate sewers

Figure 5.5: Combined sewers

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Figure 5.6: Partially combined sewers
(IC = inspection chamber, RWP = rainwater pipe)
Source: Osborne (1999)
Figure 5.4, 5.5 and 5.6 above show various types of the domestic wastewater collection
system.

Visit these website to learn more about urban sewerage system and why we need
a sewer system
http://www.howstuffworks.com/sewer1.htm

SELF-CHECK 5.2
If separate sewers is practiced in the wastewater collection system,
why is it wrong to connect roof drains to the sanitary sewers?

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5.2.1

Sewer Pipes

WASTEWATER ENGINEERING

The parameters for the design of sewer pipes are as follows:
(a)

The minimum size of domestic connections to the public sewer is 150 mm in
diameter;

(b) The minimum size of gravity sewers is 225 mm in diameter;
(c)

The minimum depth of soil cover over the sewer is 1.2 m;

(d) The maximum design velocity at peak flow should not be more than
4.0 m/s; and
(e)

The minimum velocity at full bore is 0.8 m/s for adequate sediment and
slime cleansing.

Sewer pipes are constructed from clay, concrete, steel, ductile iron, and plastic
derivatives.
The most common material used for sewer pipes in Malaysia is vitrified clay
(VC). VC pipes that are manufactured in Malaysia are in diameters of 100 mm to
600 mm and the length ranges from 0.75 m to 2.0 m with spigot-socket flexible
joints complete with a rubber ring seal or a polyurethane seal. Larger diameters
of VC pipe are usually imported. VC pipe is especially resistant to acids,
alkalines, hydrogen sulphide (septic sewage), erosion and scour which makes it
suitable to be used for gravity sewers. However, the potential for infiltration is
great and this can be minimised by careful laying procedures on site.
Reinforced concrete (RC) pipe comes in diameters of 150 mm to 3600 mm and a
standard length of 3.0 m. Common reinforced concrete pipes are not resistant to
acidic corrosion which occurs in certain septic sewage conditions. To improve the
corrosion resistance, high alumina cement mortar lining is used.

5.2.2

Manholes

Manholes should be constructed with pre-cast concrete sections surrounded by
in-situ concrete surrounding. Protecting lining/coating shall be provided to
prevent corrosion of the concrete reinforcement due to sulphate attack. Walls
shall be lined with either uPVC, high alumina cements, epoxy coating or other
equivalent material. The minimum diameter of manhole chambers constructed
from pre-cast concrete rings is given in Table 5.1.
Manholes shall be provided at junctions and at changes in elevation, direction,
size, diameter and slope of sewers. Spacing between manholes shall be not more
than 100 m for sewers less than 1.0 m in diameter. For sewers with diameter

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larger than 1.0 m, the spacing between manholes shall not be more than 150 m.
Figure 5.7 shows a typical pre-cast concrete manhole.
Spacing of manholes < 100 m if sewer size < 1.0 m
Spacing for manholes < 150 m if sewer size > 1.0 m
Table 5.1: Minimum Manhole Diameters
Sewer Diameter (mm)

Chamber Diameter (mm)

225ă300

1200

375ă450

1350

600ă750

1500

Source: Guidelines for Developers ă Volume 3, Sewer Networks and Pump
Stations, 1999, Sewerage Services Department, Ministry of
Housing and Local Government, Malaysia

Figure 5.7: Typical pre-cast concrete manhole
(Ground level to top of benching < 2.5 metres)m
Source: Guidelines for Developers ă Volume 3, Sewer Networks and Pump Stations, 1999,
Sewerage Services Department, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Malaysia

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SELF-CHECK 5.3
Look for manholes near your house. From the size of the manhole
cover and the spacing between each cover, can you guess the size of
the sewer running underneath the street?

5.2.3

Flow Rate Estimations

The following factors are considered when selecting the diameter and gradient of
a sewer:
(a)

To cater for peak flow;

(b) To ensure that there will be sufficient velocity during each day to
sufficiently cleanse the sewer of slime and sediment; and
(c)

To limit the velocity to avoid scouring of sewers.

(a)

Average flow ă the volume of sewage that needs to be treated per day is
based on an assumed contribution per person of 225 litres. Another
assumption is based on the contribution from various types of premises
where the contribution from each premise type is defined in terms of a
Âpopulation equivalentÊ. The recommended minimum population
equivalent published by the Sewerage Services Department, Ministry of
Housing and Local Government, Malaysia is as shown in Table 5.2. For
development area that is contributing sewage, the population equivalent
(PE) should be totalled and then multiplied by the sewage production value
of 225 litres/head/ day to give the average flow.
Table 5.2: Recommended Population Equivalents

Type of Premise/Establishment

Population Equivalent
(Recommended)

Residential

5 per house

Commercial:
(includes offices, shopping complex,
entertainment/recreational centres,
restaurants, cafeteria, theatres)

3 per 100 m2 gross area

Schools/Educational Institutions:

0.2 per student

ă
ă
ă

1 per student
0.2 per non-residential student
1 per student residential

Day schools/institutions
Fully residential
Partial residential

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Hospitals
Hotels (with

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4 per bed
dining and laundry facilities)

4 per room

Factories (excluding process water)

0.3 per staff

Market (wet type)

3 per stall

Market (dry type)

1 per stall

Petrol Kiosks/Service stations

15 per toilet

Bus terminal

4 per bus bay

Taxi terminal

4 per taxi bay

Mosque

0.2 per person

Church/temple

0.2 per person

Stadium

0.2 per person

Swimming pool/Sport complex

0.5 per person

Public toilet

15 per toilet

Airport

0.2 per passenger bay
0.3 per employee

Laundr

10 per machine

Prison

1 per person

Golf course

20 per hole

Source: Guidelines for Developers ă Volume 3, Sewer Networks and Pump
Stations, 1999, Sewerage Services Government, Ministry of
Housing and Local Government, Malaysia

(b)

Peak flow ă the flow used to determine the diameter and gradient of the
pipeline is the peak flow. Peak flow is the most severe flow that could occur
on any day when considering daily flow fluctuations and infiltrations. The
peak flow is derived from the average flow by applying a peak factor for
daily flow fluctuations. The peak factor shall be estimated for the following
formula:
Peak Factor = 4.7 (PE/1000)-0.11
Where PE = assumed population equivalent

EXERCISE 5.2
Name and describe the wastewater collection system practiced in
Malaysia.

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5.3

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WASTEWATER CONSTITUENTS AND
QUALITY STANDARDS

Wastewater or sewage is a complex mixture, usually containing over 99% water
and together with organic and inorganic contaminants, both suspended and
dissolved. The concentration of these contaminants is expressed as a
weight/volume ratio expressed in mg/L which is milligrams of contaminant per
litre of mixture. Since the specific gravity (SG) of these dilute solutions is similar
to that of water, the concentrations can also be expressed in weight-to-weight
ratios such as mg/kg or ppm (parts per million).

5.3.1

Wastewater Constituents

The constituents of wastewater comprise of micro-organisms, solids inorganic
constituents and organic matter.
(a)

Micro-organisms ă Sewage provides an ideal environment for a vast array of
algae, bacteria, some viruses, protozoa and coliforms to thrive in, as there is
suitable food, sufficient moisture and an appropriate temperature for them
to live. Most of the micro-organisms in wastewater are harmless and can be
used to convert organic matter to stable end products through biological
processes. However, pathogens (disease-causing organisms) may be present
from the excreta of people with infectious diseases.

(b) Solids ă The organic and inorganic solids in wastewater are called total
solids (TS). This can be broken down to suspended solids and dissolved
solids and further subdivided again into settleable, colloidal and true
dissolved solids. This family of solids expressed as typical percentages is as
shown in Figure 5.8.

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Figure 5.8: Family of solids
Source: Lindeburg (1989)

A further division of each category into organic and inorganic solids is possible.
(c)

Inorganic constituents ă The common inorganic constituents of wastewater
include:
(i)

Chlorides and sulphates ă normally present in water and in human
waste

(ii) Nitrogen and phosphorus ă in their various forms (organic and
inorganic) from human waste, with additional phosphorus from
detergents
(iii) Carbonates and bicarbonates ă normally present in water and wastes as
calcium and magnesium salts
(iv) Toxic substances ă arsenic, cyanide, and heavy metals such as Cd, Cr,
Cu, Hg, Pb and Zn (may be found in industrial wastes)
Dissolved gases such as oxygen are also included under inorganic solids.
(d) Organic solids ă Proteins and carbohydrates constitute 90% of the organic
matter in domestic sewage. Other organic solids include lipids, fats, oils
and grease. The sources of these biodegradable contaminants include
excreta and urine from humans, food wastes, detergents and other cleaning
products.

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Table 5.3: Classification of Some Wastewater Parameters
Parameter

Class
Physical

Total solids
Total suspended solids
Temperature pH
Colour
Odour

Chemical

Carbohydrates
Proteins
Lipids
Fats, oils, grease
BOD5, COD, TOC
Alkalinity
Grit
Heavy metals
Nutrients N, P
Chlorides
Sulphur
Hydrogen sulphide
Gases

Microbiological

Organic

Inorganic

Bacteria
Algae
Protozoa
Viruses
Coliforms
Source: Kiely (1996)

Various parameters are used to measure the organic strength of wastewater.
Among the common methods used are:
(a) Total organic carbon (TOC) ă this is based on the amount of organic carbon
present in the waste and is determined by measuring the amount of CO
produced when the organic carbon in a sample is oxidised by a strong
oxidier and comparing it with the amount in a standard sample of known
TOC.
(b) Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) ă this is the amount of dissolved oxygen
used up from the wastewater sample by micro-organisms to biologically
degrade the organic matter. This is usually done at 20ÀC over a 5-day period,
expressed as BOD, and measures the readily biodegradable organic carbon
present in the wastewater. BOD is the most important parameter in water
pollution control.

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(c) Chemical oxygen demand (COD) ă The test measures the amount of oxygen
needed to chemically oxidise the total organic carbon in wastewater with the
exception of some aromatics such as benzene. A strong chemical oxidizing
agent (potassium dichromate) is used to oxidie the organics rather than
using micro-organisms as in the BOD test. It is an excellent measure of
effluent strength.
The classification of some wastewater parameters is as shown in Table 5.3 above.
Table 5.4 below shows the typical composition of untreated domestic
wastewater.
Table 5.4: Typical Composition of Untreated Domestic Wastewater
(All values except settleable solids are expressed in mg/L)
Constituent
Solids, total:
Dissolved, total
Fixed
Volatile
Suspended, total
Fixed
Volatile
Settleable solids, mL/L
Biochemical
Oxygen Demand,
(BOD5, 20ÀC)
Total organic carbon
Chemical oxygen demand (COD)
Nitrogen (total as N):
Organic
Free ammonia
Nitrates
Nitrates
Phosphorus (total as P):
Organic
Inorganic
Chlorides
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)
Grease

Concentration (mg/L)
Strong
Medium
Weak
350
720
1200
250
500
850
105
300
525
100
200
325
20
220
350
20
55
75
80
165
275
5
10
20
110
220
400
290
1000
85
35
50
0
0
15
5
10
100
200
150

160
500
40
15
25
0
0
8
3
5
50
100
100

Source: Design and Installation of Sewerage Systems, 1st Edition,
1995, The Sewerage Services Department, Malaysia

80
250
20
8
12
0
0
4
1
3
30
50
50

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5.3.2

Wastewater Quality Standards

WASTEWATER ENGINEERING

In the design of sewage treatment plants, an effluent quality conforming to
Standard A under the terms of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974, must be
adhered to. As the Standard limits are Absolute limits, where no failures are
permitted in law. This means that sewage treatment plants must be designed to
produce average affluent qualities well below those of the standard figures. The
average for BOD5 is 10 mg/L and the average for suspended solids is 20 mg/L.
Table 5.5 below gives the effluent discharge for Standard A.
Table 5.5: Effluent Discharge For Standard A
(From Environmental Quality Act, 1974)
NO.
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.
viii.
ix.
x.
xi.
xii.
xiii.
xiii.
xv.
xvi.
xvii.
xviii.
xix.
xx.
xxi.
xxii.
xxiii.

PARAMETER
Temperature
pH Value
BOD5 at 20ÀC
COD
Suspended soilds
Mercury
Cadmium
Chromium, Hexavalent
Arsenic
Cyanide
Lead
Chromium, Trivalent
Copper
Manganese
Nickel
Tin
Zinc
Boron
Iron (Fe)
Phenol
Free Chlorine
Sulphide
Oil and Grease

UNIT
ÀC
ă
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L
mg/L

STANDARD A
40
6.0ă9.0
20
50
50
0.005
0.01
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.10
0.20
0.20
0.20
0.20
0.20
1.0
1.0
1.0
0.001
1.0
0.50
Not detectable

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EXERCISE 5.3
What are the constituents of wastewater?

5.4

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PROCESS

The primary objective of wastewater treatment is to remove or modify those
contaminants detrimental to human health or the water, land and air
environment. The suspended, colloidal and dissolved contaminants (both
organic and inorganic) in the wastewater may be removed physically, converted
biologically or changed chemically. Contaminants are generally removed from
wastewater in order of increasing difficulty. Figure 5.9 illustrates a typical
flowchart of a wastewater treatment plant which is divided
into 5 stages, namely:
(a)

Preliminary treatment ă removal of large solids to prevent damage to the
remainder of the unit operations

(b) Primary treatment ă removal of solids by settling. Primary treatment
systems are usually physical processes
(c)

Secondary treatment ă removal of the demand for oxygen. These processes
are commonly biological in nature

(d) Disinfection and/or advanced tertiary treatment ă disinfection of the plant
effluent before discharge to the receiving water or any other cleaning up
process such as the removal of nutrients such as phosphorus. These
processes can be physical (e.g. filters), biological (e.g. oxidation ponds), or
chemical (e.g. precipitation of phosphorus)
(e)

Solids treatment and disposal ă the collection, stabilization and subsequent
disposal of the solids removed by other processes. This process will be
discussed in more detail in section 15.5.

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Figure 5.9: A typical block diagram of a wastewater treatment plant
Source: Vesilind (1997)

5.4.1

Preliminary Treatment

Listed below are the various steps in the preliminary treatment of raw sewage:
(a)

Screens ă Rags, paper, wood and a miscellaneous array of large objects are
retained on coarse screens (100 mm to 150 mm spacing) or a series of steel
bars placed about 25 mm apart. The purpose of the screens is to prevent
clogging of small pumps and damage to the equipment which will hinder
further treatment. Figure 5.10 shows a typical bar screen.

The screen is mechanically cleaned by cleaning rakes which are automatically
activated when the screens become sufficiently clogged to raise the water level in
front of the bars.

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Figure 5.10: A typical bar screen
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(b) Comminutor ă In many plants, the next treatment step is the comminutor. It
is a circular grinder designed to grind solids coming through the screen into
pieces of about 3 mm or smaller sizes to reduce the amount of screened
waste which must be disposed of. A typical comminutor is as shown in
Figure 5.11.

Figure 5.11: A typical comminutor
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(c)

Grit Chamber ă Grit or sand acts like an abrasive that wears out equipment
such as pumps and flow meters, clogs pipes and accumulates in excessive
volumes and they are removed in grit chambers. A grit chamber (Figure
5.12) slows down sufficiently the wastewater so as to allow the grit to settle
out but still moves the organic matter through. The grit can then be
manually or mechanically removed with buckets or conveyors and then
dumped as fill material without undue odour or other problems.

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Figure 5.12: A grit chamber
Source: Vesilind, P.A, 1997. Introduction to Environmental
Engineering, PWS Publishing Co., Boston

(d) Grease Traps ă If the wastewater has excessive grease or oil, the wastewater
is allowed to flow through a series of chambers so that the grease will rise to
the surface and mechanically skimmed off. An aerating device below will
help coagulate and float grease to the surface.

5.4.2

Primary Treatment

At this point, most of the small solids are still in suspension and the settleable
portion of these (about 50%) can be removed and concentrated in the primary
gravity settling tanks or primary clarifiers. Solids settle to the bottom and are
removed while the clarified liquid escapes over a V-notch weir to the secondary
treatment units. Settling tanks can be circular (Figure 5.13) or rectangular (Figure
5.14).

Figure 5.13: Primary clarifier ă circular settling tank
Source: Vesilind (1997)

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Figure 5.14: Primary clarifier ă rectangular settling tank
Source: Vesilind (1997)

The concentrated solids that drop to the bottom of a primary clarifier are
removed as raw sludge. Raw sludge is generally odoriferous and may contain
pathogenic organisms. A high percentage of the raw sludge is made up of water
which makes it difficult to dispose.
Raw sludge is then pumped to an anaerobic digester for biological
decomposition and stabilisation. This will reduce its possible public health
impact and retard further decomposition. It is then dewatered for easy disposal.
For more pictures of the equipment in a treatment plant, visit
http:/photos.innersource.com/page/162/514 showing the equipment in use at
Libertyville Wastewater Treatment Plant, USA.

5.4.3

Secondary Treatment

Secondary treatment is a biological treatment. The water leaving the primary
clarifier would have lost much of the suspended organic matter but it still
contains a high demand for oxygen due to the dissolved organics. The main
objective of secondary treatment is to reduce the BOD.
This consists of a biological oxidation section where the dissolved and colloidal
matter in the wastewater provides food for microorganisms, which then convert
the organics into non-polluting end products, such as CO2, H2O and biomass
(sludge). To produce a well-oxidied liquid effluent, a number of biological
methods exist, some of which are as follows:

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Ć

Trickling filter

Ć

Rotating biological contactor

Ć

Activated sludge system

(a)

Trickling filter (as in Figure 5.15) ă this consists of beds of fist-sized rocks or
rubberised corrugated blocks (which provide a greater surface area while
taking up little volume) over which the influent is sprayed. Active biological
and microbial slime growths formed on the rocks purify the wastewater as it
trickles through the rocks by consuming food from the wastewater. Air is
either forced through the rocks, or, more commonly, air circulation is
obtained automatically by a temperature difference between the air in the
bed and ambient temperature. The water is introduced into the filter by
rotating arms which move by the virtue of the spray reaction. The clarified
water is then collected by an under-drain system. Some water is returned to
the filter for a longer contact time.

Figure 5.15: A trickling filter
Source: Vesilind, P.A, 1997. Introduction to Environmental
Engineering, PWS Publishing Co., Boston

(b) Rotating biological contactor ă This is a modification of the trickling filter
and is also known as rotating disk and they are shown in Figure 5.16. The
microbial growth occurs on rotating disks, which are slowly dipped into the
wastewater. When the disks are brought out into the open air, the microbes
are able to obtain the necessary oxygen to keep the growth aerobic.

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Figure 5.16: Rotating disk fixed film biological contactor
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(c)

Activated sludge system ă Sludge produced during the oxidation process
has an extremely high concentration of active aerobic bacteria and therefore
partially oxidised sludge is called activated sludge. Purification of raw
sewage can be speeded up considerably if the raw sewage is mixed (seeded)
with activated sludge.

Figure 5.17: A schematic diagram of the activated sludge system
Source: Vesilind (1997)

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The activated sludge system as shown in Figure 5.17 consists of a tank full of
wastewater from the primary clarifier and a mass of micro organisms. The
process can be described below:
(a)

Air is bubbled into this aeration tank to provide the necessary oxygen for
the survival of the aerobic organisms.

(b) The micro organisms come into contact with the dissolved organics and
rapidly adsorb these organics on their surface. In time, the micro organisms
use the energy and carbon by decomposing this material to CO2, H2O and
some stable compounds.
(c)

In the process of doing so, more micro organisms are produced. As the
production of new micro organisms is relatively slow, most of the aeration
tank volume is used for this purpose.

(d) Once most of the food has been used up, the micro organisms are separated
from the liquid in a settling tank (secondary clarifier). The liquid escapes
over a V-notch weir and can be discharged as effluent into the receiving
watercourse.
The separated micro organisms at the bottom of the final clarifier are now
starved or ÂactivatedÊ; hence the name activated sludge. When these activated
micro organisms are pumped back into the aeration tank, they again feed on food
from the organics in the raw sewage from the primary clarifier and the process is
repeated. The sludge pumped from the bottom of the secondary clarifier to the
aeration tank is known as return activated sludge.
The activated sludge process is a continuous operation. However, if none of the
micro organisms is removed in time, their concentration will increase till the
system becomes clogged with solids. Therefore, some of the micro organisms
have to be channelled off or wasted. This is called waste activated sludge which
must be processed and disposed of.
The mixture of raw sewage and activated sludge is known as mixed liquor (ML)
and the suspended solids is known as mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS).

5.4.4

Disinfection

The objective of disinfection is to eliminate pathogenic organisms. The
disinfection procedures for wastewater are similar to those for potable water
mentioned in Topic 4. This includes the use of chlorine, ozone, chlorine dioxide
and ultraviolet radiation.
Chlorine is often used as it is fairly inexpensive. Dosages of chlorine for
disinfection purposes vary widely depending on the type of wastewater.

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Typically, chlorine requirements are about 10 times more than those for potable
water requirements. The chlorine is injected into the beginning of holding tanks
and it is assumed that all the flow is in contact with the chlorine for 30 minutes.

5.4.5

Advanced Tertiary Treatment

Advanced tertiary treatment for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus,
ammonia and other trace organics and inorganics can be removed as follows:(a)

Residual suspended solids ă these can be can be removed by rapid sand
filters.

(b) Trace dissolved organic solids ă these can be removed by filtering through
activated carbon or ozonation.
(c)

Ions from inorganic salts ă these can be can be removed by electro-dialysis
and reverse osmosis.

(d) Phosphorus ă this element can be removed by chemical precipitation.
Aluminium and iron coagulants, as well as lime are effective in removing
phosphates.
(e)

Nitrogen ă The ammonia stripping method or the nitrification and denitrification process can be used.

Visit this website for more information on the treatment process of waste water.
http://www.ci.sanmateo.ca.us/dept/wwtp/howitworks.htm
Visit this website http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wtd/westpoint/index.htm to see an
animated tour of the West Point Treatment Plant, Seattle, USA to learn more
about the wastewater treatment processes.

EXERCISE 5.4
Draw a fully labelled block diagram for a typical wastewater treatment
plant showing the treatment steps for achieving an effluent to Standard A
as stipulated by the Environmental Quality Act, 1974.

142 X

5.5

TOPIC 5

WASTEWATER ENGINEERING

SLUDGE TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL

Two types of sludge are produced in the wastewater treatment plant:
(a)

Raw sludge ă this comes from the bottom of the primary clarifier.

(b) Biological sludge/waste activated sludge ă this can be either biological
sludge from the trickling filter/rotating biological contactor or waste
activated sludge from the activated sludge system.

5.5.1

Sludge Treatment

The treatment of sludge is necessary as the sludge produced in wastewater
treatment is aesthetically displeasing, potentially harmful and contain too much
water. The first two problems above are often solved by stabilization and the
third problem solved by sludge dewatering. Before the sludge can be treated, it
needs to be thickened to at least 4% solids if dewatering is to be feasible. Figure
5.18 shows the typical unit operations for processing raw primary sludge and
Figure 5.19 illustrates the possible alternatives of handling waste activated
sludge.

Figure 5.18: Typical unit operations for processing raw primary sludge
Source: Hammer & Hammer (1996)

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Figure 5.19: Possible alternatives of handling waste activated sludge
Source: Hammer & Hammer (1996)

(a)

Sludge thickening ă There are 2 methods for this process:
(i)

Gravity thickening ă this method may be applied to mixtures of
primary and secondary sludges. This is performed in a stirred
sedimentation tank into which sludge is fed. A doubling of solids
content is usually possible with a gravity thickener.

(ii) Dissolved air flotation ă this method may be employed for
concentrating waste activated sludge. In the dissolved floatation
method, air is bubbled through a tank containing sludge. The solid
particles adhere to the air bubbles, float to the surface and are skimmed
away. The skimmed scum has a solids content of approximately 4%.
Up to 85% of the total solids may be recovered although chemical
flocculants may be used to increase this to 95%.
Other methods of thickening include centrifugation, gravity bell thickening
and rotary drum thickening.
(b) Sludge stabilisation ă Once the sludge has been thickened, it can be
stabilised and dewatered before disposal. Much of the organic material in
sludge is easily digested or stabilied by anaerobic microbes. Solids which
are capable of being digested are known as volatile solids. Digestion of
volatile solids results in methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide
gases. There are two ways that digestion can take place:-

144 X

TOPIC 5

(i)

WASTEWATER ENGINEERING

Anaerobic digestion ă this process takes place in the absence of
oxygen. Two types of bacteria are involved: acid forming and
acid splitting. The pH must be kept above 6.5 for the methaneproducing bacteria to function. Figure 5.20 shows a single-stage
floating cover digester while Figure 5.21 shows a two-stage
anaerobic digester.

Figure 5.20: Single-stage floating cover digester
Source: M.J. Hammer, M.J. Hammer Jr.,1996. Water and Wastewater Technology, 3rd
Edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey

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Figure 5.21: Two-stage anaerobic digestion: primary and secondary
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(ii) Aerobic Digestion ă this process takes place in the presence of oxygen.
An aerobic digester is normally operated by continuously feeding raw
sludge with intermittent supernatant and digested sludge
withdrawals. The digesting sludge is continuously aerated during
filling and for the specified digestion period after the tank is full.
Aeration is then discontinued to allow the stabilied solids to settle by
gravity. Supernatant is decanted and returned to the head of the
treatment plant and a portion of the gravity-thickened sludge is
removed for disposal.
Other methods of stabiliation are lime stabiliation, heat treatment and
compositing.
(a)

Sludge Dewatering ă After stabiliation, there are several methods of
dewatering that are available including drying beds of sand or gravel, belt
filters, pressure filtration, centrifugation, vacuum filtration and lagooning.
Two of these methods are described below.
(i)

Sludge drying beds of sand and gravel are preferable when digested
sludge is to be disposed of in a landfill. Sand beds consist of tile drains
in gravel, covered by about 0.25 m of sand as shown in Figure 5.22.

The sludge to be dewatered is poured on the beds at about 15 cm deep. Two
mechanisms combine to separate the water from the solids: seepage and
evaporation. Normally three months are allowed for the drying process and the
dried sludge or cake is removed before the beds are again flooded with fresh
sludge.

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Figure 5.22: Sludge drying bed
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(ii) A belt filter operates both as a pressure filter and a gravity filter as
shown in Figure 5.23. As the sludge is introduced onto a moving belt,
the free water surrounding the sludge solid particles drips through the
belt while the solids are retained on the surface of the belt. The sludge
is then moved into a dewatering zone where it is squeezed between
two belts forcing the filtrate from the sludge solids. The dewatered
solids called sludge cake are then discharged when the belts separate.

Figure 5.23: Belt filter
Source: Vesilind (1997)

(d) Additional Sludge Processing methods ă These methods may include
conditioning by the use of chemicals or heat treatment to improve the
efficiency of thickening and dewatering, disinfection by pasteurisation or
long-term storage or the sludge is heated to totally eliminate water, organics
and pathogens when an economical source of combustion heat is available.

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5.5.2

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Sludge Disposal

The options for disposal of treated sludge can be by ocean dumping or land
disposal. Disposal of sludge in deep water is being phased out due to adverse or
unknown detrimental effects on aquatic ecology.
Land disposals can be by the following methods:
(a) Dumping into a landfill.
(b) Spreading the sludge out over land and allowing natural biodegradation to
assimilate the sludge back into the environment.
(c) Land application such as land spreading and injection of sludge to
agricultural land, land re-vegetation and land reclamation.
Visit this website for more information on wastewater treatment processes:
http://wwwga.usgs.gov/edu/wwvisit.html

EXERCISE 5.5
What are the typical processes involved in the treatment of sludge
produced in domestic wastewater treatment?

x

In this topic, the domestic sanitary pipework system was introduced and
three types of public wastewater collection systems were described.

x

Design criteria for the various components that make up the collection
system, namely design flow, sewer pipes and manholes were given.

x

The constituents of raw domestic wastewater and quality standards of treated
wastewater expected were introduced to facilitate a better understanding of
the treatment process of wastewater involved.

x

The topic ends with a description on the treatment process of sludge and the
different methods of disposal of the treated sludge.