Most of municipal activated sludge plants located in wine production regions receive winery wastewaters during the grape harvest period which lasts usually only a few weeks. A drastic increase in organic pollution (COD, BOD) during this period generates a temporary overloading, resulting very often in biological problems such as decreased sludge settleability, sludge floc disintegration, increased SS concentration in treated effluent and in the worst case a complete plant failure. In order to work satisfactorily even during those temporary overloading periods, the plant has to be oversized. This strategy is rather costly, because such a plant has to run below its nominal capacity during a major part of the year. An original solution has been proposed and successfully tested at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Eguisheim, France. The proposed technique is based on the addition of a mineral material with a low particle size, whose presence positively influences the physical behaviour of the sludge and will allow the nominal capacity of the plant to be surpassed without any important modification. The modification of the sludge structure around the added powdered material improved significantly the sludge settleability (DSVI< 160 ml/g) and enabled the plant to treat organic pollution several times higher than the nominal level.

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