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Post-ozonation in a municipal wastewater treatment plant improves water quality in the receiving stream

Ashauer, Roman
Environmental sciences Europe 2016 v.28 no.1 pp. 1
aquatic invertebrates, drugs, filtration, macroinvertebrates, municipal wastewater, ozonation, personal care products, pesticides, pollutants, risk, sand, streams, toxicity, wastewater treatment, water quality
BACKGROUND: Removal of organic micropollutants from wastewater by post-ozonation has been investigated in a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) temporarily upgraded with full-scale ozonation, followed by sand filtration, as an additional treatment step of the secondary effluent. Here, the SPEAR (species at risk) indicator was used to analyse macroinvertebrate abundance data that were collected in the receiving stream before, during and after ozonation to investigate whether ozonation improved the water quality. RESULTS: The SPEAR values indicate a better water quality downstream the WWTP during ozonation. With ozonation the relative abundance of vulnerable macroinvertebrates in the stream receiving the treated wastewater increases from 18 % (CI 15–21 %) to 30 % (CI 28–32 %). This increase of 12 % (CI 8–16 %) indicates improved ecological quality of the stream and shifts classification according to the Water Framework Directive from poor to moderate. CONCLUSIONS: The SPEAR concept, originally developed to indicate pesticide stress, also appears to indicate toxic stress by a mixture of various micropollutants including pharmaceuticals, personal care products and pesticides. The responsiveness of the SPEAR indicator means that those macroinvertebrates that are vulnerable to pesticide pollution are also vulnerable to micropollutants from WWTPs. The change in the macroinvertebrate community downstream the WWTP indicates that toxicity by pollutants decreased by more than one order of magnitude during ozonation. Ozonation followed by sand filtration has favourable impacts on the composition of the macroinvertebrate community and can improve the water quality in the receiving stream.