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Wastewater Characteristics

October 30, 2016

Influent Wastewater Characterization


What does "normal" wastewater consist of? And how, exactly, do you define normal? It has happened too many times that I've been in the field and someone has measured, for example, the influent phosphate and gotten what they thought was a strange number, usually a value they think is too high. Of course, that always leads to the question: "What is the typical phosphate concentration in wastewater?" So I thought it was time to pull together reference materials regarding influent wastewater characteristics. More sources will be added as I come across them.



A logical place to begin would, of course, be the Metcalf & Eddy handbook known worldwide as Wastewater Engineering Treatment and Reuse. I've reproduced the table below from the fourth edition of this famous textbook.




The next table comes from a textbook I have referenced previously, a book I really like, called “Biological Wastewater Treatment: Principles, Modelling and Design,” edited by Mogens Henze, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, George A. Ekama, and Damir Brdjanovic. The table comes from Chapter 3: Wastewater Characterization. You can download the entire chapter as a PDF file here.



Here is another PDF file describing wastewater characterization from Prof. Mogens Henze Technical University of Denmark and Prof. Dr. Yves Comeau of Ecole Polytechnique Montreal, Canada. 



Allowable Heavy Metal Concentrations


The table shown below is from a 1977 EPA manual called "Process Control Manual for Aerobic Biological Wastewater Treatment Facilities." I have reproduced the information which shows the allowable concentrations of 13 metals in the influent to an activated sludge process. I know a data of 1977 might be considered to be too out-of-date but this is the only source for this type of information I've been able to come across.



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