Three anaerobic/aerobic sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) were operated for 5 1/2 years. Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in influent wastewater for two of the SBRs (the Glucose 1 and 2 SBRs) resulted in optimization of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR), and a bacterial population capable of increasing phosphorus (P) removals in response to increased VFA or P concentration. Another SBR not receiving VFAs (the Starch SBR) showed marginal EBPR and was incapable of either response. All three anaerobic/aerobic sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) showed bounded oscillations in P removal that did not correspond to any operational or environmental change. The oscillations were probably associated with interspecies population dynamics intensified due to the periodic, unsteady-state, nature of the SBR process. The glucose SBRs also showed an additional type of variability associated with EBPR, probably from competition between poly-P and “G” bacteria for readily available substrate (i.e. glucose, VFAs) during anaerobiosis. The predominant bacterial isolates from the glucose SBRs were Pseudomonas and Bacillus while Aeromonas was isolated most frequently from the Starch SBR. The relatively slow growth rate of Pseudomonas may have contributed to the high variability of EBPR observed. Fractal analysis indicated overall variability may have been chaotic, but was inconclusive.

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