Application of activated sludge models (ASMs) to full-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is still hampered by the problem of model calibration of these over-parameterised models. This either requires expert knowledge or global methods that explore a large parameter space. However, a better balance in structure between the submodels (ASM, hydraulic, aeration, etc.) and improved quality of influent data result in much smaller calibration efforts. In this contribution, a methodology is proposed that links data frequency and model structure to calibration quality and output uncertainty. It is composed of defining the model structure, the input data, an automated calibration, confidence interval computation and uncertainty propagation to the model output. Apart from the last step, the methodology is applied to an existing WWTP using three models differing only in the aeration submodel. A sensitivity analysis was performed on all models, allowing the ranking of the most important parameters to select in the subsequent calibration step. The aeration submodel proved very important to get good NH4 predictions. Finally, the impact of data frequency was explored. Lowering the frequency resulted in larger deviations of parameter estimates from their default values and larger confidence intervals. Autocorrelation due to high frequency calibration data has an opposite effect on the confidence intervals. The proposed methodology opens doors to facilitate and improve calibration efforts and to design measurement campaigns.
Keywords: calibration data frequency, confidence interval, full-scale modelling, input data frequency, model structure, output uncertainty, WWTP model calibration