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General description of the sedimentation process:

•Sedimentation is a process in which gravitational settling of sediments take

•The objective of sedimentation is to produce more clear water by settling
out sediments (hence it is also referred to as clarification or settling) before
the water is directed to the filtration process, so that the filtration process can
be more effective.
•The units in which sedimentation takes place are usually called
sedimentation tanks/basins, settling tanks/ basins, or simply as clarifiers
•Sedimentation can either be plain ( without the aid of chemicals) or can
aided by coagulant chemicals
•Plain sedimentation is employed to removal suspended solids easily
settleable by proving quiescent conditions and sufficient detention times
•Sedimentation aided by coagulant chemicals is employed to clarify water
characterised by colloidal particles that cannot settle on their own
•Coagulated water must be allowed to flocculate ( form large flocs) prior to
the sedimentation stage
•The flow velocity through the tank must be slow enough to allow most of the
flocs or particles from the flocculation channels settle to the bottom before
the water leaves the tank.
•Care must be taken to ensure that very little or no turbulence occurs as the
water flows to the clarifiers. Turbulence of the water will result in the break-
up of the floc and it will be difficult for the floc to re-form.
•The turbidity and clarity of the clarified water should be monitored and Conventional horizontal-flow sedimentation basin
recorded to assess the performance of the clarifiers. Up-flow sludge blanket clarifier
•The clarifiers must be desludged regularly, on the accumulation of sludge in
the system. During rainy seasons when the turbidity of the raw water is high,
sludge should be removed more often than normal.
•The channels from the clarifiers leading to the filters should also be kept
clean and free of algae. Any floating material should be removed.

Operation and maintenance requirements for sedimentation processes Problems that may be experienced with Troubleshooting for sedimentation processes
Where typically Advantages and
sedimentation processes and suggested remedies
Sedimentation process Description Design parameters parameters and
employed disadvantages
requirements or actions Notes Possible Actions
Horizontal-flow Rectangular basin Applied to treat • Retention time Advantages: • Flow velocity • Regular desludging ROUND TANKS
sedimentation in which turbid raw coagulated / • Horizontal flow • Tolerant to hydraulic monitoring • Leak detection and Sedimentation Potential Possible Suggested
that has been flocculated raw velocity and quality variations • Effluent quality repair 1 Is the bridge rotating? For the sedimentation process to work the The process controller must check that the
coagulated & water characterised • Surface loading • Unskilled operator and (turbidity)
process problems causes remedies/actions bridge must rotate slowly allowing settling wheel alignment is correct and that the
flocculated flows by medium to high rate does not require monitoring both Horizontal-flow • Poor settling of • Incorrect (higher) • Correct (lower) flow to occur. In this respect the wheel bridge is moving. Any concerns must be
Is the wheel alignment in the
horizontal and suspended solids • Weir overflow rate operator presence all visual and sedimentation flocs, hence flow velocity; velocity; 2 centre of the running surface? alignment must be in the centre of the reported to the supervisor or the
allows flocs to settle and turbidity the time analytical effluent turbidity • poor chemical • optimise chemical running surface. maintenance personnel.
at the inclined • Lower construction not suitable for dosing/ dosing, coagulation
filtration coagulation/floccu and flocculation The process controller must inspect the
bottom costs & permits
lation; processes; weirs and report any loose or broken weir
oversizing The overflow weir plates may occasionally
• excessive sludge • desludge Are the overflow weir plates plates to the supervisor or maintenance
• Scales up well 3 maintained?
break off and sludge/scum accumulation
personnel. The process controller must
Disadvantages: accumulation sedimentation tank, may occur.
• Poor sludge • poor chemical • optimise chemical regularly brush the weir plates to remove
• Large land
Up-flow type (Conical blanket dosing/ dosing / coagulation / any sludge/scum accumulation.
Basin with a Applied to treat • Up-flow flow Advantages: • Flow velocity • Regular desludging settlers including sludge formation coagulation/ flocculation and / or Is the desludging mechanism
blanket settlers) leading to floc flocculation and/or • correct upflow 4 working? Desludging is important for the optimum
Up-flow type (Conical circular, square or coagulated raw velocity < 1 .5 m/h; • Efficient removal of monitoring • Leak detection and The process controller must visually
overflows; • incorrect upflow velocity working of the WTW, to ensure that
settlers including sludge rectangular surface water characterised sludge • Effluent quality repair Is the desludging valve in inspect the desludging mechanism and
blanket settlers) area with conical by stable turbidity • Desludging can be (turbidity) inability to velocities; 5 working order?
accumulated sludge does not become re-
report any malfunctions to the supervisor
empty sludge suspended and carried over to the next
bottoms in which done without taking unit monitoring both Is the rate of desludging or maintenance personnel.
cones 6 process if it is not removed.
water flows out of operation visual and adequate?
upwards and • compact design analytical Batch sedimentation • Poor settling of • Inadequate • Optimise chemical
flocs within chemical dosing / dosing and RECTANGULAR TANKS
settleable solids are suitable when space is
desired and/or rapid coagulation process The process controller must visually
returned by gravity limited, hence attractive Uneven flow over the weirs may indicate
retention time or mixing • Increase retention Is there even flow over the inspect the weirs to ensure that flow is
for package or modular
long retention • High turbidity times
7 outlet weir?
that there are blockages along the top of
even, and if not must brush the weirs to
type plant designs the weir.
times to achieve supernatant remove any build-up.
• Sensitive to raw water acceptable despite adequate Is the desludging valve in
quality and changes in effluent quality chemical 8 working order? Desludging should be done at least once The process controller must record and
dosing/coagulatio per shift so it is important that the valves report any malfunctions to the supervisor
flow velocity; Is the rate of desludging
• Requires skilled n 9 adequate?
are maintained. or maintenance personnel.
supervision and daily Radial flow sedimentation • Poor settling of • Incorrect (higher) • Correct (lower) flow
operator presence flocs, hence flow velocity; velocity;
effluent turbidity • poor chemical • optimise chemical Suitably qualified mechanics and artisans
Are suitably qualified
Operational not suitable for dosing / dosing, coagulation should always be available – they do not Ensure that a maintenance person is on
Where typically Advantages and Maintenance mechanics and artisans
Sedimentation process Description
employed )
Design parameters
parameters and
filtration coagulation/floccu and flocculation 10 available if maintenance is
have to be on site but should be available hand within a reasonable timeframe to
aspects lation; processes; to report to the WTW within a reasonable deal with any breakdowns.
Batch sedimentation Operates Treats turbid water • Detention time Advantages: • Filling and • Removal of sludge • excessive sludge • desludge timeframe.
intermittently: tank for very small • Low O & M costs emptying tank • Removal of floating accumulation sedimentation tank, To ensure that maintenance occurs when The process controller must record and
filled with holdings where Disadvantages: • Chemical dosages objects Are all malfunctions recorded it is reported it is important to keep a report all malfunctions and must follow up
coagulated water, demand is not high Limited production • Effluent quality • Cleaning of inlet and 11 and reported? record of the malfunctions and date on with the supervisor if they are not
then allowed to monitoring outlet structures which they were reported. timeously dealt with.
stand for desired
retention time and
then supernatant To comply with the OHSA PPE: overall,
water is withdrawn safety shoes, hard hat, gloves should be
Radial flow Circular tank in Treats turbid water • Retention time advantages: • Flow velocity • Regular desludging worn as required. It is important that a life Ensure that PPE is available on site and is
sedimentation which water to be for any capacity • Radial flow • Low O & M costs monitoring • Leak detection and
12 Is correct PPE worn?
jacket is worn when the process controller correctly worn.
clarified enters at velocity Disadvantages: • Effluent quality repair is on the sides of the tank cleaning the
the centre and flows • Surface loading • Sensitive to flow (turbidity) weirs.
through the radius rate velocity monitoring both The area around the sedimentation tanks
(radial)) towards • Weir overflow rate visual and must be kept clean to avoid contaminating The process controller must keep the area
launders located on analytical Is good housekeeping
its periphery
13 practiced around the tanks?
the water as well as accidents that may be clean and safely dispose of the sludge and
caused if sludge/scum removed is left scum.
lying around.