Environmental Science & Technology, an ACS journal, had an interesting article on how upgrading a municipal wastewater treatment plant to full nitrification activated sludge has impacted the fish population in a downstream river. Before upgrading the wastewater plant to remove nitrogen/ammonia, the rivers population of rainbow darter (etheostoma caeruleum) had intersexed males between 70 - 100% in the previous 5 years. After the upgrade - the WWTP effluent had lower nutrient discharges but also reduced pharmaceuticals and other estrogen mimics. The rainbow darter population quickly reverted to less than 10% intersexed males - an indicator of improved water quality.
While the facility did not set out to treat micropollutants - residual pharmaceuticals and other recalcitrant organic chemicals - improving other parts of treatment with longer exposure to desirable microbial metabolism does improve effluent quality. My current research is on how much we can improve existing biological treatment units with respect to micropollutant removal. If you could remove a majority of the complex compounds in the biological unit, there will be less need for more expensive activated carbon or oxidation technologies to polish off the remaining micropollutants.
Here information on the article and a link to the abstract:
“Reduction of Intersex in a Wild Fish Population in Response to Major Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades”
Keegan A. Hicks*† , Meghan L. M. Fuzzen†, Emily K. McCann†, Maricor J. Arlos†, Leslie M. Bragg†, Sonya Kleywegt‡, Gerald R. Tetreault§, Mark E. McMaster§, and Mark R. Servos†. Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05370 Publication Date (Web): December 27, 2016
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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