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Wastewater Treatment

M.M. Ghangrekar Department of Civil Engineering Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur


The organic matter present in the wastewater will undergo decomposition with production of large quantities of malodorous gases. Untreated wastewater will result in the depletion of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) from the water bodies. Due to depletion of DO, the survival of aquatic life will become difficult, finally leading to anaerobic conditions in the receiving waters. The nutrients present in the wastewater can stimulate the growth of aquatic plants, leading to problems like eutrophication. Untreated domestic wastewater usually contains numerous pathogenic or disease causing microorganisms, that dwell in the human intestinal tract or which may be present in certain industrial wastewaters. The continuous deposition of this inorganic material may reduce the capacity of water body considerably over a period. Even untreated wastewater will have adverse effect when used for irrigation, such as altering salts in the soil, alteration in granulation characteristics of soil, etc.

Temperature: under Indian condition the temperature of the raw sewage was observed to be between 20 to 300C at various places. The pH: Generally the pH of raw sewage is in the range 5.5 to 8.0. Colour and Odour: slightly soapy and cloudy appearance depending upon its concentration. Solids: sewage contains only 0.1 percent solids, the rest being water, still the nuisance caused by the solids cannot be overlooked, as these solids are highly putrescible and therefore need proper disposal. Nitrogen and Phosphorus: About 25 40 mg/L N, and 5 to 10 mg/L P Organic Material: BOD 100 to 400 mg/L, COD 200 to 700 mg/L. Toxic Metals and Compounds: Generally these materials are not present in toxic limits for biological wastewater treatment in domestic sewage, but in municipal wastewater some of them may be present in higher concentration due to industrial discharges.


The sewage after treatment may be disposed either into a water body such as lake, stream, river, estuary, and ocean or on to land. Treated sewage can be used for Industrial reuse or reclaimed sewage effluent cooling system, boiler feed, process water, etc., Reuse in agriculture and horticulture, watering of lawns, golf courses and similar purpose, and Ground water recharge for augmenting ground water resources for downstream users or for preventing saline water intrusion in coastal areas.

IS tolerance limits for sewage & industrial effluents

Characteristics Sewage into inland surface water (IS: 4764-1973) 20 --30 ------

BOD5, 20oC, mg/L COD, mg/L pH Total SS, mg/L Temperature, oC Oil and grease, mg/L Phenolic compounds, mg/L Sulphides,mg/L of S Ammonical nitrogen, mg/L

Tolerance limit Industrial waste into inland surface water IS:2490-1974) 30 250 5.5 9.0 100 40 10 1.0 2.0 50

Industrial waste into public sewers (IS: 3306:1974) 500 -5.5 9.0 600 45 100 5.0 -50

These standards are withdrawn and modified by CPCB now

What is Sewage Treatment Plant ?

Sewage Treatment Plant is a facility designed to receive the waste from domestic, commercial and industrial sources and to remove materials that damage water quality and compromise public health and safety when discharged into water receiving systems. Objective: - The Principal objective of wastewater treatment is generally to allow human and industrial effluents to be disposed of without danger to human health or unacceptable damage to the natural environment. Conventional wastewater treatment consists of a combination of Physical, chemical, and biological processes and operations to remove solids, organic matter and, sometimes, nutrients from wastewater.

Sewage treatment
Preliminary treatment:
It is the removal of coarse solids and other large materials often found in raw wastewater. Removal of these materials is necessary to enhance the operation and maintenance of subsequent treatment units. Preliminary treatment operations typically include coarse screening, grit removal and, in some cases, shredding of large objects.

Primary treatment is the removal of settleable organic and inorganic solids by sedimentation, and the removal of materials that will float (scum) by skimming. Secondary treatment: In most cases, secondary treatment follows primary treatment and involves the removal of biodegradable dissolved and colloidal organic matter using aerobic biological treatment processes.
Aerobic biological treatment is performed in the presence of oxygen by aerobic microorganisms (principally bacteria) that metabolize the organic matter in the wastewater, thereby producing more microorganisms and inorganic end-products (principally CO2, NH3, and H2 O). Several aerobic and anaerobic biological processes are used for secondary treatment. Common high-rate aerobic processes include the activated sludge processes, trickling filters or bio filters, oxidation ditches, and rotating biological contractors (RBC). Anaerobic high rate processes such as upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor and anaerobic filters are also used. A combination of two of these processes in series (e.g. UASB followed by activated sludge or oxidation pond) is generally used to take advantages of anaerobic process.

Classification of Treatment Methods

The individual treatment methods are usually classified as:
Physical unit operations: Treatment methods in which the application of physical forces predominates are known as physical unit operations. Most of these methods are based on natural observations, e.g. screening, mixing, flocculation, sedimentation, flotation, and filtration. Chemical unit processes: Treatment methods in which removal or conversion of contaminant is brought by addition of chemicals or by other chemical reaction are known as chemical unit processes, for example, precipitation, gas transfer, adsorption, and disinfection. Biological unit processes: Treatment methods in which the removal of contaminants is brought about by biological activity are known as biological unit processes. This is used for removal of organic matter and nitrogen. E.g., ASP, UASB reactor, Trickling filter, Oxidation Ponds


(a) Process Flow sheet Incorporating Oxidation Ditch

(b) Process Flow sheet Employing Aerated Lagoon


(c) Process Flow sheet Employing Waste Stabilization Pond

(d) Process flow sheet employing anaerobic treatment devices


(e) Process Flow-sheet of Conventional Domestic Wastewater Treatment


Grit chamber

Horizontal flow grit chamber

Aerated Grit chamber

Primary Sedimentation Tank

Baffle placed ahead of effluent channel for removal of oil & grease

Biological Treatment
In the case of domestic wastewater treatment, the objective of biological treatment is:
To stabilize the organic content To remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus

Types: Aerobic Processes Anoxic Processes Anaerobic Processes Combined Aerobic-AnoxicAnaerobic Processes Pond Processes Attached Growth Suspended Growth Combined Systems

Aerobic Maturation Facultative Anaerobic

Major Aerobic Biological Processes

Type of Growth
Suspended Growth Attached Growth

Common Name
Activated Sludge (AS) Aerated Lagoons Trickling Filters Roughing Filters (trickling filters with high hydraulic loading rates) Rotating Biological Contactors Packed-bed reactors

Carbonaceous BOD removal (nitrification) Carbonaceous BOD removal (nitrification) Carbonaceous BOD removal. nitrification Carbonaceous BOD removal

Carbonaceous BOD removal (nitrification) Carbonaceous BOD removal (nitrification)

Combined Suspended & Attached Growth

Activated Biofilter Process Carbonaceous BOD removal (nitrification)

Trickling filter-solids contact process Biofilter-AS process Series trickling filter-AS process

Activated Sludge Process

The aeration tank contains a suspension of the wastewater and microorganisms, the mixed liquor. The liquor is mixed by aeration devices (supplying also oxygen) A portion of the biological sludge separated from the secondary effluent by sedimentation is recycled to the aeration tank Types of AS Systems: Conventional, Complete-Mix, Sequencing Batch Reactor, Extended Aeration, Deep Tank, Deep Shaft

Advantages Flexible, can adapt to minor pH, organic and temperature changes Small area required Degree of nitrification is controllable Relatively minor odor problems Disadvantages High operating costs (skilled labor, electricity, etc.) Generates solids requiring sludge disposal Some process alternatives are sensitive to shock loads and metallic or other poisons Requires continuous air supply

Trickling Filters
The trickling filter or biofilter consists of a bed of permeable medium of either rock or plastic Microorganisms become attached to the media and form a biological layer or fixed film. Organic matter in the wastewater diffuses into the film, where it is metabolized. Periodically, portions of the film slough off the media

Advantages Good quality (80-90% BOD5 removal) for 2stage efficiency could reach 95% Moderate operating costs (lower than activated sludge) Withstands shock loads better than other biological processes Disadvantages High capital costs Clogging of distributors or beds Snail, mosquito and insect problems

Major Anaerobic Biological Processes

Type of Growth
Suspended Growth

Common Name
Anaerobic Contact Process Upflow Anaerobic SludgeBlanket (UASB) Anaerobic Filter Process

Carbonaceous BOD removal Carbonaceous BOD removal Carbonaceous BOD removal, waste stabilization (denitrification) Carbonaceous BOD removal, waste stabilization

Attached Growth

Expanded Bed

Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket

Wastewater flows upward through a sludge blanket composed of biological granules that decompose organic matter Some of the generated gas attaches to granules that rise and strike degassing baffles releasing the gas Free gas is collected by special domes The effluent passes into a settling chamber

Advantages Low energy demand Low land requirement Methane as valuable byproduct Low sludge production Less expensive than other anaerobic processes High organic removal efficiency Disadvantages Long start-up period Requires sufficient amount of granular seed sludge for faster start-up Significant wash out of sludge during initial phase of process Required skilled operator.

Pond Treatment Processes

Common Name
Aerobic Stabilization Ponds Maturation (tertiary) Ponds Facultative Ponds

Treatment with aerobic bacteria; oxygen is supplied by algal photosynthesis and natural surface reaeration; depth of 0.15 to 1.5 m

Carbonaceous BOD removal

Use aerobic treatment; applied Secondary effluent loadings are low to preserve aerobic polishing and seasonal conditions nitrification Treatment with aerobic, anaerobic Carbonaceous BOD and facultative bacteria; the pond removal has 3 zones: a surface aerobic zone, a bottom anaerobic zone, and an intermediate zone partly aerobicanaerobic Treatment with anaerobic bacteria; depths of up to 9.1 m to conserve anaerobic conditions Carbonaceous BOD removal (waste stabilization)

Anaerobic Ponds

Anaerobic digester for sludge treatment