Veolia wastewater treatment lowers PPCPs and phosphorus

Veolia Water North America chose the Water Environment Federation’s annual WEFTEC conference in Chicago to release a study on 3 October 2012 showing successful removal of pharmaceuticals and phosphorus from wastewater using its Actiflo® Carb technology.

The presence of pharmaceuticals and personal-care products (PPCPs) is of particular concern to utilities reusing wastewater, and California, for instance, is currently considering legislation requiring monitoring of reuse schemes for constituents of emerging concern (CECs), which include PPCPs. So far, there are few data on any health and environmental threats.

To date, no one process has been found to be successful in removing all these contaminants, though they can be considerably reduced with a combination of technologies, usually involving reverse osmosis, which a recent WateReuse Research Foundation project found removed 95% of CECs.

As part of a multi-year partnership with a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the Actiflo Carb study was conducted by process engineers from Veolia Water and its subsidiary Kruger Inc, with the support of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Water Environment Research Foundation.

Over the course of an eight-week study, the presence of phosphorus and a variety of PPCPs, ranging from ointments to medications, was monitored after adding Actiflo Carb to the traditional wastewater treatment process. With the use of Actiflo Carb, 75% of the selected PPCPs were removed from the wastewater. Additionally, phosphorus was reduced to a concentration of 0.05 mg/L or less, well below the US Environment Protection Agency’s regulatory limit of 1.0 mg/L.

Developed and patented by Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Actiflo Carb is a high-rate clarification technology that relies on powdered activated carbon, which is known for its ability to remove pesticides, taste-and-odor-causing compounds, natural organic matter and many types of trace organic compounds from water and wastewater.

“There is mounting concern across the US about the impact of trace organics, such as hormones and pharmaceuticals, in our water systems and the potential threats they pose on human health, wildlife and the environment,” said Dr Rebecca Klaper, the lead scientist from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who worked on the study. “This research showed that when Actiflo Carb is added to a wastewater treatment process, it removes a significant portion of the pharmaceuticals tested.”