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Title: Microtopographic enhancement of land-based wastewater treatment
Author: Tyrrell, Sean R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 7020
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2016
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There is a regulatory tension within wastewater treatment, between the requirement to meet tightening consents and the need to reduce the carbon footprint of treatment processes. With 75% of wastewater treatment works serving populations of less than 2,000, low-energy tertiary treatment options suitable to small rural works need to be developed. One option that lends itself particularly well to small works is land-based wastewater treatment (LBWWT). The aim of this research was to evaluate the role of LBWWT in the UK water industry and investigate the impact ridge-and-furrow enhanced microtopography (MT) may have upon a particular type of LBWWT - slow-rate (SR) infiltration. This was achieved through meeting three objectives. Firstly, the use of LBWWT was reviewed and assessed. Secondly, the impact of ridge-and-furrow enhanced MT upon the vegetation diversity and nutrient removal of a SR- LBWWT was established by means of a three year field trial. Finally, the cost- effectiveness of SR-LBWWT and the impact of ridging and furrow irrigation upon cost-effectiveness were evaluated using Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA). The first objective comprised of a review of the historical and current use of LBWWT, a review of the relevant changing legislation to identify what may be required of LBWWT and an assessment of LBWWT’s potential to meet these requirements. The result of the evaluation found that, based upon the literature, SR-LBWWT is ‘fit-for-purpose’ as tertiary treatment for small treatment works. To meet the second objective, a SR-LBWWT system trial was established at a small wastewater treatment works in Knowle, Hampshire. The trial consisted of three clay-loam grass plots irrigated with secondary treated effluent. There were two configurations of trial plot - flat and ridge-and-furrowed. Effluent (sub- surface soil water) nutrient concentrations were monitored as was vegetation diversity. In addition a number of physical, hydrological and biogeochemical parameters were monitored and hydrological modelling carried out. Mean nutrient removal performances of 90% for ammonia, 72% for nitrate, and 91% for phosphate were observed with the ridge-and-furrowed plot. Ridging and furrow irrigation was found to not have a significantly detrimental effect upon the trial plots’ removal performance for ammonia, nitrate or phosphate. Extrapolation modelling suggested, however, that this would not be the case for LBWWT systems on predominantly clay or sand soils. Ridging and furrow irrigation was found to have a statistically significant positive effect upon the vegetation diversity of the LBWWT trial plots; with mean final year Shannon-Wiener values of 0.96 and 0.69, for the ridge-and-furrowed and non-ridged plots, respectively. For the final objective, analysis found that SR-LBWWT are cost-effective when compared to horizontal sub-surface flow constructed wetlands (HSSFCW), an established low-energy treatment option. Mean cost-effectiveness ratio values of £208.5 and £262.7 per % effectiveness were observed for LBWWT and HSSFCW, respectively. Following the field trial CEA was extended to include ridge-and-furrowed SR-LBWWT systems. This found that ridging and furrow irrigation improves the cost-effectiveness of SR-LBWWT serving small populations, reducing the mid cost-effectiveness ratio to £193 per % effectiveness. This is a result of the cost-reducing effect of ridge-and-furrowing over laser-level grading; and based upon the findings of the trial that ridging and furrow irrigation can be achieved (in clay-loam soil slow-rate systems) without significant detriment to the water treatment effectiveness of LBWWT. The main conclusions of this thesis are: that SR-LBWWT has a role to play in the UK water industry, as tertiary treatment for small wastewater treatment works. That SR-LBWWT is cost-effective in relation to HSSFCW. That ridging and furrow irrigation increases that cost-effectiveness by reducing the construction and operational costs. That ridging and furrow irrigation can be employed without significant detriment to a SR-LBWWT system’s water treatment performance. And finally, that ridging and furrow irrigation can have a positive impact upon the establishment vegetation diversity of a SR-LBWWT system.
Supervisor: Hess, Tim M. ; Tyrrel, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ridge and furrow ; furrow irrigation ; nutrient-removal ; vegetation-diversity ; tertiary-treatment ; phosphorus ; nitrate ; ammonia