Dr. Smith's Travels in the World of Wastewater

I have had the privilege to visit some diverse places recently while extolling the benefits of process monitoring for wastewater treatment. One of the most iconic places in the world is Times Square. The NY Water Environment YSI's Dr. Rob SmithAssociation (NYWEA) holds its annual conference a stones’ throw away at the Marriott Marquis. My technical presentation titled “Process Monitoring of Nitrate, Nitrite, and COD with Optical Spectral Sensors” was particularly relevant as the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently began to include NitraVis® optical nitrate sensors as part of their Carbon Addition project.

The project is a major effort to protect water quality in Long Island Sound by improving nitrogen removal performance at the DEPs water resource recovery facilities (WRRF). The sensors are being installed at facilities to control methanol dosing. The topic was well received by the 30+ in attendance. Professionals want to know more about probes that can measure COD, BOD, and nitrate simultaneously without reagents or electrodes. There were a lot of questions following the presentation and discussion that continued into the networking break. I also had the opportunity to meet many DEP employees who stopped by the booth of our manufacturer’s representative Northeast Technical Sales in the Exhibit Hall. Thanks to Jim Hampson and Evan Osterweil for hosting YSI at the show.

The following week I was at the Montana Rural Water Systems Annual Conference, held every year in Great Falls, near the geographical center of this huge state. Great Falls, located on the Missouri River, was the location where Lewis & Clark Expedition was forced to exert tremendous effort to portage around several waterfalls including Great Falls (the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center provides a very thorough recounting of the expedition including the portage).

It is also the home of the Sip ‘n’ Dip Lounge where a real live mermaid swims around behind glass as you sip your drink at the bar. I found this very appealing, of course, on account of my interest in water and beer. Over 50 conference attendees chose to listen to my technical presentation titled “Strategies for Meeting Nutrient Limits with Activated Sludge”. Slideshare deck below:

Montana is at the leading edge of implementing numeric nutrient water quality criteria and has imposed technology-based standards to ratchet down the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from WRRF. Managers and Operators want to know ways to cope with the new demands. The Missoula and Butte facilities have invested heavily in online process monitoring to help them reduced the amount of nutrients in treated effluent. Missoula has installed FDO® optical DO probes to help them control DO concentrations in oxic zones and a NitraVis® nitrate sensor in an anoxic zone to help control the MLSS recycle rate. They also have a NitraVis® sensor and a P700 orthophosphate analyzer in the treated effluent to provide assurance that the treatment system is being optimized. YSI thanks Ben Lewis and Steve Hansen of Ambiente H2O for hosting YSI at their terrific booth and inviting me to join in celebration of the company’s 10-year anniversary.


We held another Train with an Expert mobile training event on March 8 in Lawrence, KS. Lawrence is a very vibrant place. I highly recommend strolling down Massachusetts Street with its many cafes and bistros. It was hard choosing a place to eat with so many appealing options. The training event was held at the awesome brand new public library. Attendees from eastern Kansas earned 5 hours of KDHE-approved training covering 5 topics including process monitoring of DO, orthophosphate, ammonium, nitrate, pH, ORP, and TSS. The training included a field trip to the Lawrence WWTP to see sensors in the native environment of an aeration tank. Attendees provided very positive feedback on the course and left many helpful suggestions on evaluation forms about what to include in future events. One attendee left this very encouraging comment on their evaluation form “This was a very good workshop. I would recommend it. I learned a lot!” The event was co-sponsored by R.E. Pedrotti Company. Thank you to Ed McGrath, Marc Pedrotti, and Dallas Massie with R.E. Pedrotti Company for co-sponsoring and coordinating the event. YSI also thanks Tom Wilson and the staff at the Lawrence WWTP for hosting the field trip. Please let us know if you know of a good location to host future events. We would love to come see you and increase awareness of the application and benefits of online process monitoring.

Denitrification White Paper button


Additional Blog Posts of Interest:

Water Reclamation Facility Meets Discharge Limits for Total Inorganic Nitrogen

Myths and Realities: Ammonium Based Aeration Control in Wastewater

Wastewater Process Control - Which Strategy is Right for You?

Troubleshooting Nitrification and Denitrification in Wastewater

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