Tauber, J., Flesch, B., Parravicini, V., Svardal, K., & Krampe, J. (2021). Influence of road salt thawing peaks on the inflow composition and activated sludge properties in municipal wastewater treatment. Water Science and Technology, 84(2), 314–322. https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2021.045
Operational data over 2 years from three large Austrian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with design capacities of 4 million, 950,000 and 110,000 population equivalent (PE) were examined. Salt peaks, due to thawing road salt were detected and quantified by electrical conductivity, temperature and chloride measurement in the inflow of the WWTPs. Daily NaCl inflow loads up to 1,147 t/d and PE-specific loads of 0.26-0.5 kg NaCl/(PE · y) were found. To mimic the plants' behaviour in a controlled environment, NaCl was dosed into the inflow of a laboratory-scale activated sludge plant. The influence of salt peaks on important activated sludge parameters such as sludge volume index, settling velocity and floc size were investigated. Influent and effluent were sampled extensively to calculate removal rates. Respiration measurements were performed to quantify activated sludge activity. Particle size distributions of the activated sludge floc sizes were measured using laser diffraction particle sizing and showed a decrease of the floc size by approximately two-thirds. The floc structure was examined and documented using light microscopy. At salt concentrations below 1 g/L, increased respiration was found for autotrophic biomass, and between 1 and 3 g NaCl/L respiration was inhibited by up to 30%.