I have been in the wastewater business for over thirty years, and nothing makes a wastewater operators blood run cold like getting the call from the plant, “Hi John, production just dumped a 5,000 gallon bulk tank of raw milk down the drain and it’s coming your way.” The panic sets in immediately and questions are raised, “what are we going to do?”
Your Food:Mass ratio is flipped on its proverbial head. Who’s even thinking about 100:5:1, it’s all hands-on deck. Let’s go over what happens to your wastewater system, discuss how to prevent the FOG nightmare in the first place, possible treatments to get you through what is about to unfold before your eyes.
Whether it’s milk, animal fat, vegetable oil or some other form of FOG, you are talking indigestion on a colossal scale. In a matter of hours, the D.O. will begin to fall. The VFD on your blowers will max out at 60Hz but they won’t be able to keep up with the oxygen demand. pH is next, this is the beginning of your journey to septicity, odors and long days ahead.
Prevention is Key
If you don’t have a lagoon and have an NPDES surface water discharge permit you definitely need to install a diversion system and storage tank to capture the “oops”, high strength waste. We have helped customers automate this process with a controller, TSS/TDS sensor and motorized valves. The idea is to divert, capture the high strength waste, hold it and meter it in the process slowly to maintain order. If you’re too late and the high strength waste is already in your EQ tank you will need to make the call and have several loads hauled away. Ughh…Upper management never likes this because it’s expensive.
After a few days when you look under the microscope you may notice some filamentous bacteria starting to populate your MLSS. If they get out of control, settling suffers and you’ll probably see stabilized microbiological foam. I’ve heard legends about 5 feet of foam surrounding an aeration basin. Do you hit the filamentous with 12.5% bleach? Many have done this, and in most cases, it seems to work but at what cost?
On the other hand, if you can get your DO back under control, you would alternatively add a high dose of lipase enzyme followed by bacillus bacteria specialized at reducing FOG. These are readily available from most reputable water treatment service companies. The lipase enzyme will break down the FOG into more manageable size lipids for the bacillus bacteria to consume. Finally, you can take a breath and breathe a sigh of relief because you are back on the road to recovery.
Do you need help at your facility?
It seems like we are seeing more of these “oops” scenario’s playing out over the last few years. It’s hard to say why this is the case but nonetheless here we are. If you have questions about how to better manage the waste stream at your facility, you can REQUEST A SITE SURVEY
and one of our technical engineers will be in touch. We look forward to helping you find a solution.
Biological Wastewater Training
Another way to learn more is by registering to attend our upcoming BIOLOGICAL WASTEWATER TRAINING
. This is a great way to network with other wastewater operators and if you are working toward your WI DNR operator license, the event qualifies for 4 CEUs. Register soon, space is limited and this class always fills up.
Director of Business Development
Chris has spent the last 25+ years in the water and wastewater treatment industry. A former equity partner and small business owner, he has held positions in sales, sales management, marketing, and business development for both global and regional companies. He received his bachelor's from St. Norbert College in both Environmental Science and Biology.