As constraints on the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus from the pulp and paper industry become tighter, a thorough knowledge of nutrient sources, and their behaviour through treatment systems, is required. Once nutrient behaviour has been characterised, strategies to minimise discharge can be formulated. A survey of nutrient sources around a modern ECF integrated bleached kraft mill showed that point sources of nitrogen and phosphorus could be identified. Approximately 40% of the nitrogen was contained in the foul condensate stream and 40% of the phosphorus contained in the acid stage of bleaching. Three Aerated Stabilisation Basin treatment systems were studied, two of which were nutrient limited in terms of theoretical nutrient requirements. All three systems achieved approximately 90% BOD removal without nutrient supplementation. For the wastewater with a high BOD:N ratio (100:0.8), nitrogen fixation was shown to be important. Benthic recycling was a more important mechanism when the BOD:N ratio was lower (100:2.1). For a severely phosphorus limited wastewater (BOD:P 100:0.04), treated in a system with a long retention time (85 d), benthic recycling was the predominant mechanism for nutrient supply. The relative roles of nitrogen fixation and benthic feed back to the nitrogen cycle in aerated stabilisation basins are discussed.

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