Recent cold weather has caused some bioremediation and water treatment facilities to have less efficient treatment. Most of our microbes in waste treatment are mesophilic organisms, meaning they grow best in temperature ranges from 12 - 38oC. When we go outside these ranges "strange things" start to happen as the population dynamics begin to favor organisms more suited for either low or high temperatures. It is this population shift that causes issues in both spring and fall.
By now our systems have drifted to a lower temperature biomass, but even with this biomass a drop in temperature does lower activity rates of the microbes and their enzymes. A rule-of-thumb is that for every 10 oC drop in temperature we lose 50% of microbial activity. You can combat this efficiency loss by running higher MLVSS (more bacteria) and by adding exogenous cultures (bioaugmentation) to supplement your active population of microbes.
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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