The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) funded a two-year comprehensive study of nutrient removal plants designed and operated to meet very low effluent total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) concentrations. WERF worked with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to solicit participation of volunteers and provide a forum for information exchange at workshops at its annual conferences. Both existing and new technologies are being adapted to meet requirements that are as low as 3.0 mg/L TN and 0.1 mg/L TP, and there is a need to define their capabilities and reliabilities in the real world situation of wastewater treatment plants. A concern over very low daily permits for ammonia caused the work to be extended to include nitrification reliability. This effort focused on maximizing what can be learned from existing technologies in order to provide a database that will inform key decision makers about proper choices for both technologies and rationale bases for statistical permit writing. To this end, managers of 22 plants, 10 achieving low effluent TP, nine achieving low effluent TN, and three achieving low effluent NH3-N, provided three years of operational data that were analyzed using a consistent statistical approach. Technology Performance Statistics (TPSs) were developed as three separate values representing the ideal, median, and reliably achievable performance. Technological conclusions can be drawn from the study in terms of what can be learned by comparing the different nutrient removal and nitrification processes employed at these 22 plants.
Keywords: nitrogen, nutrient removal, permitting, phosphorus, reliability, statistics