Get access

Operational experiences with structured plastic media filters: 10 years on


P. Pearce, Thames Water Research and Development, Reading Sewage Treatment Works, Island Road, Reading RG2 0RP, UK.


The performance of 10 cross flow structured plastic media trickling filter plants is discussed. The sites are arranged in a number of configurations with the plastic media filters operating as sole secondary process units, in parallel with other process units or in double filtration configuration. Data for 2003 and 2004 show that the plants are performing well. Data are presented for the plastic media filter stream where it is available. Two operational problems are discussed; overgrazing of nitrifying biofilms by excessive populations of snails and loss of nitrification performance in cold weather, particularly on smaller sites. Overgrazing by snails, identified as Lymnaea peregra has been controlled on one site by the annual treatment of an isolated filter with high ammoniacal nitrogen strength sludge dewatering liquors. On a second site suffering a similar problem the plastic media filter duty was changed from single filtration to being the primary filters in a double filtration system with existing stone media filters used for secondary filters. Loss of nitrification performance has been associated with excessive heat loss on some sites. Filters built as tower structures, with typically 4–5 m media depth allow easy control of airflow via restriction of the engineered ventilation openings at the base of the filter. This has been found to have a direct impact on the degree of cooling. However, airflow control on plastic media retrofitted into wide shallow stone media filter shells with 1.6–2 m media depth is more difficult. These structures offer less opportunity for control of airflow and associated heat losses.