Phosphate limitation in biological rapid sand filters used to remove ammonium from drinking water

Carson Odell Lee, Hans-Jørgen Albrechtsen, Barth F. Smets, Rasmus Boe-Hansen, Søren Lind, Philip John Binning

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    Removing ammonium from drinking water is important for maintaining biological stability in distribution systems. This is especially important in regions that do not use disinfectants in the treatment process or keep a disinfectant residual in the distribution system. Problems with nitrification can occur with increased ammonium loads caused by seasonal or operational changes and can lead to extensive periods of elevated ammonium and nitrite concentrations in the effluent. One possible cause of nitrification problems in these filters maybe due to phosphate limitation. This was investigated using a pilot scale sand column which initial analysis confirmed performed similarly to the full scale filters. Long term increased ammonium loads were applied to the pilot filter both with and without phosphate addition. Phosphate was added at a concentration of 0.5 mg PO4-P/L to ensure that it was not the limiting substrate. Preliminary results showed an increased nitrification capacity both with and without phosphate addition although the addition of phosphate doubled the ammonium and nitrite removal capacity of the filter compared to non-phosphate dosing conditions. Phosphate addition also increased the total number of ammonium oxidizing bacteria in the column. © 2013 American Water Works Association AWWA WQTC Conference Proceedings All Rights Reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAWWA WQTC Conference Proceedings
    Number of pages5
    Place of PublicationLong Beach, California
    PublisherAmerican Water Works Association (AWWA)
    Publication date2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Event2013 Water Quality Technology Coference - Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, United States
    Duration: 4 Nov 20135 Nov 2013


    Conference2013 Water Quality Technology Coference
    LocationLong Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityLong Beach
    Internet address


    • Local area networks
    • Nitrification
    • Water quality
    • Disinfectants


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