As phosphorus is not a new problem, some phosphorus removal standards have been in place for years. However, new standards are being implemented for previously unregulated industries, and certain existing standards, like the ones relating to phosphate removal from wastewater, are now becoming more stringent.
As such, it’s becoming increasingly important for wastewater treatment plant superintendents, managers, and operators to make themselves aware of new requirements relating to phosphate removal from wastewater. Many new and updated phosphorus removal standards are requiring levels less than 1 mg/l or 1 ppm.
Additional Regulations for New Industries
Some new industries are going to have to start to comply that haven’t had to in the past. Dairy farms are an example of this. Another is pig farms.
Several years ago, a dam gave way near a pig farm; as a result, sludge and liquid pig waste contaminated one of the rivers. To this day, that river has still not recovered, so people can’t use it. So, meeting the required phosphate removal standards is becoming increasingly important.
What are the penalties for not complying with regulations?
The fines for not complying with regulations around phosphate removal from wastewater can vary from $5,000 – $25,000 per day. Usually, plants must send in a report at least monthly or quarterly, and if they fail, they must do it at least monthly—sometimes as often as weekly. And because the tests are $250 – $500, the cost for missing the mark can add up fast.
One plant’s struggle to meet standards around phosphate removal from wastewater
One wastewater treatment plant we’ve consulted with gets about 1,500 parts per million of phosphorus in their influent. After initial coagulation treatment, the phosphorous is reduced by nearly 40%. The water then goes through the rest of their wastewater treatment process: clarifiers, oxidation ditches, and UV banks and channels for disinfection until it reaches the final treatment process following solids dewatering. At that point, the phosphorus remaining is 90% less than their starting influent levels, which is better, but still doesn’t meet the regulation.
This plant isn’t alone in the struggle to meet standards for phosphate removal from wastewater. For many wastewater treatment plants that do not have enough biological phosphate removal (BPR) capabilities, advanced treatment strategies are needed.
If you find yourself in a similar boat, check out our next post where we will explore common ways to treat phosphorus, alternative solutions, and how to dial in the best approach for your plant.