By the observation and evaluation of the microscopic picture of activated sludge samples it is possible to introduce another biological parameter additional to conventional physico-chemical parameters for the control of biological stages of waste water treatment plants. Considering the fact that parameters like floc size and floc size distribution, structure of the flocs (compact/open), shape of the flocs (round/irregular) allow perceptions of the adjusted operation conditions of the biological stages, evidence for changing operation conditions or threatening operation disturbances can be recognised. This recognition takes place at a very early phase, because the morphology of activated sludge flocs reacts very fast to changing conditions. An automatic image analysis of activated sludge floc pictures would enable the introduction of a new sum parameter to enhance operation control of aeration tanks. By a statistical evaluation of the processed sludge images several parameters can be used to describe the alteration of activated sludge flocs characteristics.
With these biological parameters it is possible to detect altered operation conditions or threatening or existing operation problems at an early phase. Thus it is possible to plan suitable countermeasures. Furthermore, the microscopic picture is the only parameter, that gives important information about the structure of the activated sludge flocs and the biozenosis. In comparison with the mainly used physico-chemical parameters, that just give information about the inlet and outlet of the wastewater treatment plants, the microscopic picture is the only parameter that gives information about the biology of the wastewater treatment process. By means of this biological parameter an improved control and regulation of the biological stages of wastewater treatment plants can be obtained.