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International Journal of Environment Science and Technology
Center for Environment and Energy Research and Studies (CEERS)
ISSN: 1735-1472
EISSN: 1735-2630
Vol. 12, No. 10, 2015, pp. 3317-3328
Bioline Code: st15311
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

International Journal of Environment Science and Technology, Vol. 12, No. 10, 2015, pp. 3317-3328

 en The relationship between operational and bioavailable phosphorus fractions in effluents from advanced nutrient removal systems
Li, B. & Brett, M. T.


Because different phosphorus (P) forms vary greatly in their bioavailability, total phosphorus concentrations are a problematic predictor of the eutrophication potential of natural surface waters and wastewater treatment facility effluents. It is currently not known which operational P characterizations (i.e., dissolved/particulate and reactive/non-reactive) best predict effluent P bioavailability. We characterized the P speciation and directly measured the bioavailability of P (BAP) using algal bioassays for 14 full-scale advanced nutrient removal wastewater treatment plants representing a wide range of P removal technologies. A strong statistical relationship was observed between the effluent total BAP (tBAP) and total reactive P (TRP) (r2 ≈ 0.81), with a tBAP/TRP ratio of 0.61 ± 0.24, indicating that TRP can be used as a conservative surrogate predictor of tBAP. A comparison of different operational categories for phosphorus indicated that sBAP is consistently lower than both soluble P (SP) and soluble reactive P (SRP) with average ratios of 0.34 ± 0.19 and 0.62 ± 0.27, respectively. This shows a large fraction of the dissolved non-reactive P (i.e., SPSRP), and ≥40 % of the P classified as SRP was not bioavailable. Total BAP concentrations were on average 30 % higher than soluble BAP (sBAP) concentrations, indicating that the particulate P fraction was an important component of the BAP for the tested effluents. Comparisons between different P removal technologies suggest the bioavailability, and P species composition varies with the nutrient removal process, and that in many cases, a large portion (>60 %) of the effluent P is recalcitrant to algal growth.

Phosphorus; Nutrient removal; Bioavailability of phosphorus; Tertiary treatment

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