The fate of nutrients in the modern effluent treatment plant depends on several factors, for example type of treatment plant, availability of nutrients in the specific effluent, dosing of nutrients and sludge age/production. New technologies with the aim to increase the efficiency and stability of the conventional activated sludge process have strongly affected the possibilities to control discharge of nutrients in pulp and paper effluents. A paradox is that a reduction of organic material may often lead to an increase of nutrient discharges. It is of the utmost importance that the operators have good knowledge of the factors affecting nutrient uptake and release in order to minimise nutrient discharge and obtain optimal plant performance. Dosing of nitrogen and phosphorus is one key factor in the sensitive balance in most pulp and paper effluent treatment plants. Correct dosing is crucial as high or low doses might lead not only to increased discharge of nutrients but also to severe operational problems with poor sludge quality, which in turn affects the plant performance for longer periods.

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