Lagoons 101: Identification and Long-Term Treatment Approach
Lagoons and ponds have been used for treating wastewater for over 3,000 years. Today there are over 8,000 wastewater treatment lagoons in operation within the United States. One appeal to using lagoons is that they generally require less energy than other treatment systems and have lower operation and maintenance costs. That being said, proper performance still requires some form of ongoing maintenance and upkeep. At Microbial Discovery Group (MDG), we have explored and documented the process of both treating and maintaining lagoons. With this knowledge, we have designed Biotifx® products and programs to make it easy for our sales reps to help treat and educate operators on how to maintain and increase efficiencies long-term.
To start from the beginning, a lagoon is a large, manmade body of water that is designed to receive, hold, and treat wastewater before it’s considered safe and returned to the environment. In a way, lagoons are like holding tanks where sewage enters at one end and then beneficial bacteria and other organisms work to break down various organic components over time. These bodies of water are constructed and lined with material, such as clay or an artificial liner, that will prevent any leakage into the groundwater. While a lagoon can exist alone, they’re also commonly installed as part of a system in a series. This form of wastewater treatment comes in three main variations: anaerobic (without oxygen), aerobic (including oxygen), or facultative, which is a combination of the two oxygenic conditions.
The main objectives of lagoons are to:
- Clean the water by removing nutrients and biological oxygen demand (BOD).
- Further digest the sludge by allowing biology to work over an extended period of time.
- Protect wastewater treatment facilities from a storm surge. After a large storm, excess water can be collected in lagoons.
THE PROBLEM: Lagoon Challenges
Lagoons are great because they don’t require much daily maintenance and often treat rather naturally. However, there are some long-term issues that can’t be avoided, so a maintenance plan needs to be put in place. Here are some common challenges we encourage our reps to look out for when meeting with operators.
Sludge: While sludge is naturally digested in lagoons, this digestion is usually slow and results in accumulation. This causes an issue because there is only a finite amount of space, often resulting in the need for dredging and removal that comes at a high cost. These build-ups can also cause hydraulic short-circuiting, or “dead spots”, and create even more limited system capacity.
Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG) Accumulation: When built-up FOG is not treated properly, they solidify on the surface and require mechanical removal. This, similarly to the sludge accumulation, requires a high cost for disposal services. High FOG accumulation can block equipment and make aeration impossible.
Odor: As microbes digest organic material, they release volatile fatty acid (VFA) compounds. VFAs smell like vinegar and body odor and are produced in anaerobic conditions. The presence of these VFAs often leads to community complaints. In fact, facilities can be charged with costly fines or lawsuits and may even experience a loss in tourism because of the foul odors.
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S): Like VFA odors, H2S will get the community calling to complain due to its rotten egg smell. More importantly, H2S is very toxic to people and corrosive for equipment and infrastructure. These negative side effects have the potential of causing lawsuits which could result in hefty fines.
THE SOLUTION: Biotifx® Product + Platform
Our team understands lagoon issues and is eager to educate our partners to measure, implement, and track success. Our program begins with a classroom style training that extends out into in-field training and support. Our program approach makes it easy for our partners and their customers to succeed with a product and process that’s proven. With our Biotifx® products, the most common long-term lagoon pains can be resolved. The full line of Biotifx® products are formulated with unique blends of Bacillus, enhanced with a proprietary blend of micronutrients and biostimulants to maximize performance.
Our team has numerous case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of our Biotifx® program and products. We’re in the process of writing even more because we love proving success through measured results. Our solution ensures our partners have what’s needed to help their customers improve lagoon function and save money over the long term.