Characterisation of raw sewage and performance assessment of primary settling tanks at Firle Sewage Treatment Works, Harare, Zimbabwe
The need for more stringent effluent discharge standards as prescribed by the Environmental Management Act 20:27 to protect the environment can be sustainably achieved with the aid of Activated Sludge Models. Thus, the researchers believe it is time to re-evaluate wastewater characteristics at Firle Sewage Treatment Works (STW) and make use of activated sludge simulators to address pollution challenges caused by the sewage plant. Therefore, this paper characterizes raw sewage and assesses settled and unsettled sewage in order to evaluate the performance of the primary treatment system and the suitability of the settled sewage for treatment by the subsequent Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) system at Firle STW. Parameters studied included COD, BOD, TKN, TP, NH3, TSS, pH and Alkalinity. Composite samples were collected over a 9-day campaign period (27 June to 6 July 2012), hourly grab samples over 24 hrs and composite samples on 6 March 2012 which were then analysed in the lab in accordance with Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater to support the City of Harare 2004-2012 lab historical records. Concentrations for unsettled sewage in mg/L were COD (527 ± 32), BOD (297 ± 83) TKN (19.0 ± 2.0), TP (18 ± 3), NH3 (24.0 ± 12.9), TSS (219 ± 57), while pH was 7.0 ± 0 and Alkalinity 266 ± 36 mg/L. For settled sewage the corresponding values in mg/L were COD (522 ± 15), BOD (324 ± 102), TKN (21.0 ± 3.0), TP (19.0 ± 2.0), NH3 (25.6 ± 11.2), TSS (250 ± 66), while pH was 7.0 ± 0 and Alkalinity 271 ± 17 mg/L. The plant design values for raw sewage are COD (650 mg/L), BOD (200 mg/L), TKN (40 mg/L) and TP (11 mg/L). Thus, COD and nitrogen were within the plant design range while BOD and TP were higher. Treatability of sewage in BNR systems is often inferred from the levels of critical parameters and also the ratios of TKN/COD and COD/TP. The wastewater average settled COD/BOD, COD/TP and TKN/COD ratio were 1.7 ± 0.5, 27.1 ± 3.1 and 0.04 ± 0.01 respectively and corresponding unsettled ratios were 1.8 ± 0.5, 30.77 ± 6.8 and 0.04 ± 0 respectively. Thus, treatability by the 3-stage BNR system appears highly feasible for nitrogen and is likely to be complex for phosphorous. Fractionation of COD, TP and TN is recommended to appropriately advise further steps to optimise the plant operations.