Application of high rate nitrifying trickling filters to remove low concentrations of ammonia from reclaimed municipal wastewater

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The interference of ammonia with the chlorination process is a problem for many reclaimed water treatment plant operators. This paper presents the findings from a series of pilot experiments that investigated the efficacy of high flow rate nitrifying trickling filters (NTFs) for the removal of low concentrations of ammonia (0.5–3.0 mg N L−1) from reclaimed wastewater. Results showed that nitrification was impeded by a combination of high organic carbon loads and aquatic snails, which consumed much of the active biomass. With adequate snail control, nitrification rates (0.3–1.1 g NH4-N m−2 d−1) equivalent to that of traditional wastewater NTFs were achieved, despite operating under comparably low ammonia feed concentrations and high hydraulic flow rates.

Keywords: ammonia, chlorine demand, nitrification, reclaimed wastewater, snails, trickling filters

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