A comprehensive assessment of full-scale enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) plants (five plants, 19 independent tests) was undertaken to determine their effectiveness in terms of aerobic and anoxic P removal. By comparing parallel P uptake tests under only aerobic or under anoxic-aerobic conditions, results revealed that introducing an anoxic stage led to an overall P removal of on average 90% of the P removed under only aerobic conditions. This was achieved with negligible higher PHA and glycogen requirements, 30% lower overall oxygen consumption and with the simultaneous removal of nitrate, reducing up to an estimate of 70% of carbon requirements for simultaneous N and P removal. Varying fractions of denitrifying polyphosphate accumulating organisms (DPAOs), from an average of 25% to 84%, were found in different plants. No correlation was found between the DPAO fractions and EBPR configuration, season, or the concentration of any of the microbial groups measured via quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridisation. These included Type I and Type II Ca. Accumulibacter and glycogen accumulating organisms, suggesting that chemical batch tests are the best methodology for quantifying the potential of anoxic P removal in full-scale wastewater treatment plants.

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