Filament identification and dominance of Eikelboom Type 0092 in activated sludge from wastewater treatment facilities in Cape Town, South Africa
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Routine characterisation of activated sludge and identification of the filamentous population by microscopic and/or other non-culture dependent techniques can assist in diagnosing the aetiology of poor performance of wastewater treatment works (WWTWs). In South Africa, most facilities rely solely on physicochemical indicators, treating reactors as ‘black-boxes’, with the result that process adjustments are often delayed, to the detriment of the environment. This study was performed in order to gain insight into the filamentous population found in activated sludge in Cape Town WWTWs, to compare these with other global and local literature findings, and to build capacity in this science. Physicochemical and plant performance parameters, in terms of nutrient removal and settling, were obtained from routine operational data and assessed in conjunction with the microscopic analyses of activated sludge samples taken over a 6-month period. Hypotheses on the links between filament types and/or plant configurations and/or operational parameters were formulated using existing literature. In order of prevalence, the five most common dominant filament species in 96 activated sludge samples were: Eikelboom Type 0092, Eikelboom Type 1851, nocardioforms, Microthrix parvicella and Eikelboom Type 021N. In order to compile a statistically significant database, it is recommended that an extensive nationwide study is conducted to link filament types with plant configurations, operational parameters and geographical locations.