Water is essential in the support of life. Unfortunately, water is susceptible to contamination as a direct result of human activities. Treatment processes for wastewater are constantly evolving in an effort to create a safer and more accessible water supply. One of the processes in use to treat wastewater is biological nutrient removal.
This process can seem complex, but taking the time to become familiar with some basic facts about biological nutrient removal will help you understand the value of this treatment process.
1. Biological Nutrient Removal Helps the Environment
One of the most compelling reasons behind the development of biological nutrient removal is the preservation of the natural environment. High nutrient levels within a body of water can have devastating effects on the surrounding environment. Some of the common symptoms associated with nutrient over-enrichment include a low dissolved oxygen rate, algae blooms, fish kills, murky water, and the disappearance of native plants.
Treating wastewater to eliminate over-enrichment can prevent these symptoms from becoming a serious threat to the larger ecosystem in a geographic area.
2. Biological Nutrient Removal Targets Specific Nutrients
Wastewater can be filled with a variety of nutrients, but not all of these nutrients will have a harmful effect on the environment. As a result, biological nutrient removal targets specific nutrients within a water supply.
The specific nutrients targeted by biological nutrient removal are nitrogen and phosphorus. A total removal of both nutrients (including ammonia, nitrate, particulate organic nitrogen, soluble organic nitrogen, and soluble and particulate phosphorus) can significantly improve the quality of wastewater.
3. Many Forms of Biological Nutrient Removal Exist
Biological nutrient removal is a broader term that is used to describe a number of unique processes. Each of these processes relies on the use of microorganisms in defined environmental conditions to help manage nutrient levels within a body of wastewater.
Some biological nutrient removal processes target either nitrogen or phosphorus, some target both. The configuration of the biological nutrient removal system used by any facility will be based on wastewater quality, the experience of plant operators, and any existing treatment processes that are designed to improve wastewater quality.
Having the ability to treat contaminated wastewater to make it safe for release back into the environment is important. The use of biological nutrient removal can be a natural and effective way to reduce the negative impact that over-enriched wastewater can have on the environment over time.