This study evaluates the effect of chlorination bulking control on water quality and phosphate release/uptake in an anaerobic-oxic activated sludge system. A series of batch experiments with different specific NaOCl mass dose were conducted to determine the sludge settling properties, supernatant water quality and phosphate metabolism behavior of filamentous bulking sludge. The harvested sludge was from a continuous-flow anaerobic-oxic (A/O) activated sludge pilot-plant, i.e., enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) system, operated with 15 days of sludge retention time. The filamentous bacteria in the A/O pilot plant were identified to be Thiothrix according to Eikelboom's classification techniques, which was in accordance with the high influent sulfate concentration of this study (50 mg/L sulfate). Increasing NaOCl concentration, as revealed by experimental results, obviously decreased the sludge settling properties (SVI values and zone settling velocities) and meanwhile significantly reduced supernatant water quality (COD, SS, TP) mainly due to higher suspended solids caused by floc disruption. Moreover, the nine-hour batch experiments indicated that high NaOCl dosage (40 mg/gMLSS) completely deteriorated phosphate metabolism of EBPR sludge. Such a high dosage of chlorination further confirmed overdosing through disappearance of intracellular PHB and death of protozoa by microscopic investigation. Still, phosphate release/uptake behavior of EBPR sludge properly functions at low NaOCl dosage (5 mg/g MLSS). Besides, phosphate metabolism worsens rapidly before the SVI value reaches its lowest level. These findings imply that determining NaOCl requirement with merely SVI values can readily result in chlorination overdosing. Proper NaOCl dosage requires a delicately balanced consideration between sludge settling improvement, water quality demand and phosphate metabolism. Batch test of phosphate release/uptake is apparently a prerequisite to conclude an appropriate NaOCl dosage for bulking control.

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