EBS wastewater laboratory specialists and microbiologists utilize a breadth of approaches, including both established and cutting-edge laboratory techniques, to provide direct support to clients, third party consultants/engineers/vendors, and our internal field personnel. We continually research and evaluate new equipment, advanced microscopic techniques and chemical analyses to address both the system parameters and its biology to gain a deeper understanding of the biological process at work.
Wastewater Microbiology Assessments
The microscope is a powerful troubleshooting tool for biological wastewater treatment systems. Microscopic examinations are a critical component of a wastewater system monitoring program. Observations by trained personnel can recognize problems and trends before they become crises. EBS offers several levels of microscopic analyses including an in-depth report. Each report includes comments and recommendations. If requested, a preliminary assessment can be prepared the same day samples are received.
Micrographs of the floc, bulk water and/or filamentous bacteria are included for all microscopic analyses. Filament identification can provide insight into the conditions of an activated sludge system, allowing us to diagnose potential causes of bulking sludge. Determining specific types of filamentous bacteria can indicate specific causes, offering options for long term solutions to bulking episodes.
Wastewater Process Monitoring
In addition to extensive microscopic examination and microbiological evaluation capabilities, the EBS laboratory conducts all the tests necessary for monitoring of a client’s biological wastewater system. These tests combined with the microscopic examination can provide a complete picture of the biological health and system performance.
Respirometry is the technique of continuously monitoring the oxygen uptake of biomass under controlled conditions and is a powerful tool for evaluating biological processes. At EBS, we are on the cutting edge in the use of respirometry to optimize nutrient and bioaugmentation applications in industrial wastewater treatment systems. Results of these studies have been used to improve treatment efficiency and reduce nutrient costs. In addition to nutrient evaluations, we use respirometry to conduct biodegradability studies, nitrification testing, toxicity/inhibition screenings, and performance comparisons of commercial biological additives.
EBS also performs continuous flow bench scale studies to evaluate chronic inhibition/toxicity. These studies can also be used to calculate kinetic parameters, evaluate bioaccumulation, and biodegradability after biomass acclimation.
The utilization of Molecular Biology is increasingly important in the scope of wastewater treatment. Many plants have fecal coliform limits which are impacted by non-fecal sources of the fecal coliform bacteria. By identifying the source of fecal coliform contamination, the permit exceedances may be explained to the regulators. In wastewater studies, EBS can detect different species of bacteria present in the treatment system and quantify the amount of DNA in a sample from those organisms utilizing Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Once DNA has been extracted from a water sample, multiple markers can be quantified to categorize the types of bacteria present in that sample and throughout the treatment system. If fecal indicator bacteria concentrations are too high in a system, studies can be designed to track and quantify potential sources of fecal contamination. We can use species-specific markers to differentiate between bacteria that likely come from environmental sources (e.g. plant material) and those that are found in human or animal feces.