• Project No 2001
  • Project Name Pathogen removal by Australian activated sludge
  • Lead Organisation South East Water
  • Research Lead Water Futures
  • Main Researcher Therese Flapper
  • Completion Year 2010

Project Description

Sewage is delivered to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) where benign microbial organisms within ‘activated sludge’ vessels contribute to the removal of harmful pathogens from the sewage. The activity and pathogen-removing ability of these helpful organisms is affected by many factors including temperature, numbers of fine particles, pH, ammonia, and the time available to remove the pathogens. Regulatory authorities require at least 90% (one log removal value, LRV) of the pathogens to be removed, but as WWTP operating conditions vary, the LRVs change. This problem led to recognition of the need to develop models capable of predicting relationships between plant operating parameters (such as temperature) and pathogen removal. This research reviewed published reports and datasets, then set up and ran an experimental activated sludge pilot plant to generate data about a range of operating conditions and pathogen removals. These datasets were used to develop models which had only a ‘poor’ predictive value for clostridia but were ‘good’ for giardia and ‘very good to excellent’ for the removal of other pathogens. These models need to be extended with more operating conditions but have the potential to be used to attribute LRVs and for future integration into online real-time monitoring.