Neighborhoods, shopping centers, and other areas of development are increasingly required to build storm water retention ponds to prevent downstream flooding and pollution from leaving the immediate area before treatment. Being relatively shallow with little mixing, these ponds often have problems related to (1) algae blooms, (2) odors, (3) oil sheen, and (4) solids buildup.
If operators considered the ponds as a small biological treatment unit rather than a "wide spot in the ditch", the problems listed above can be remedied with ease.
The first part of the treatment solution is to add mixing/aeration to the pond. This can either be an electric powered device or a solar powered unit. In larger ponds, I recommend the solar unit as it saves on electricity and is able to mix the entire contents much more efficiently than most pond high speed surface aerators.
Secondly, we monitor the pond visually to determine if conditions are changing. When you start to see oil sheen on the pond, I recommend responding by using bioaugmentation to rapidly degrade the petroleum hydrocarbons. This process efficiently degrades the hydrocarbons onsite while minimizing risks to the environment. If the ponds serves fueling stations and large parking lots, using bioaugmentation on a periodic basis can keep the petroleum degrading microbes at high concentrations while waiting on the hydrocarbons washed in by rain events.
In addition to improving hydrocarbon removal, the use of mixers and bioaugmentation will help control algae growth that causes odors and reduces pond aesthetics.
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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