News | January 7, 2000

Winterizing Your Waste Water Treatment Plant

Brrrr. Winter is here and it sure is cold. If you're suffering from the colder temperatures, just imagine for a moment how the poor little beneficial bacteria you use in your wastewater treatment plant must feel. They perform at their best in temperature ranges between 65°F and 100°F, actively consuming all the waste products they can. When the temperature falls below this range, however, their activity slows considerably and subsequently, so does their consumption of waste. This can result in both system shock for the bacteria and elevated levels of waste compound in effluent, which can be extremely costly in the form of levied fines.

When bacteria slow down and their consumption of waste products fall, the amount of BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) in the effluent rise. Municipalities use these measures to determine the toxicity of water released into the city sewer systems. When unacceptable levels are detected, hefty fines can be imposed on the offending plant. To prevent such an occurrence at your plant, you need to find a way to keep your bacteria warm and comfortable.

Because they don't make tiny parkas for bacteria, it has been found that the best way to maintain acceptable effluent levels during periods of colder weather is through the use of Bioaugmentation. Bioaugmentation is the process of introducing specific bacteria formulations into certain problem situations, such as colder water. These bacteria formulations can be anything from a nitrifying formulation introduced into the system, if the nitrification is not performing at its desired level, to cold weather formulations comprised of hardy bacteria that have a natural resistance to colder climates. The introduction of these bacteria into your system can help keep your plant effluent BOD and COD at an acceptable level.

It is important to remember that if your plant has ever experienced elevated effluent BOD and COD levels during colder weather, you should assume that it will happen again as soon as temperatures begin to drop. "Some plants, because of their location or construction, have a tendency for problematic waste situations during periods of colder weather. It has been shown that the most effective way to deal with the situation is through the prevention of the problem, rather than addressing a problem once it has occurred," said Peter Crummy, Bioaugmentation Product Manager for Garratt-Callahan Company. Therefore, it is recommended that you begin treating your system with a cold weather bacteria formulation one to two weeks before temperatures are forecast to fall. This will help seed the cold weather bacteria and also strengthen the general bacteria population so they do not succumb to system shock when temperatures do drop.

What if you have not already prepared for colder temperatures? Address the problem now. It is never too late to add cold weather bacteria formulations to your waste water system. While your system is recovering be sure to schedule preventative measures on your calendar for next winter.

For more information, please contact a Garratt-Callahan representative at (650) 697-5811 or see us on the Web at