Sweeter smell of success

Oct 15, 2007

An environmentally friendly project by Southern Water that uses only natural elements like  bark, wood chips, seaweed and seashells lining water-filled tanks, is reducing the smell generated by wastewater treatment works.

At Peel Common Wastewater Treatment Works at Fareham in Hampshire, which serves nearly a quarter of a million people, they are on course for the lowest recorded number of odour complaints against the site.

Feasting bugs live on the seaweed and wood in tanks which treat the gas hydrogen sulphide that cause the smells. The gas is sucked away by fans before going through carbon filters back into the atmosphere.

Southern Water’s Principal Process Scientist Nigel Palmer, said: “By the time the gas passes through the layers of bark and seaweed, the bacteria and carbon have removed most smells.

“In the seashell tanks the system comprises an odour filter filled with the shells which are constantly washed by a pumped system and develop a biological film on them.
This film neutralizes the gases further, helped by the calcium present in the seashells and an activated carbon filter later “polishes up” the air.”

The shell filter holds 95,000 litres of seashells gathered from around the coast of the UK and Ireland but after a period of three to six years the shells will dissolve and have to be replaced.

Bord Na Mona originally developed the monashell odour treatment system and now supplies ten Southern Water Wastewater Treatment Works.

Another tank contains 183 cubic metres of pinewood chips supplied from forests in Norfolk and Gloucester as a waste product from saw mills. Some thirty cubic metres of seaweed comes from local beaches, Cornwall and the Irish Sea.

Local residents and councillors in the area had previously been so upset by the smells from the site that they had formed an Odour Forum to work together with Southern Water to identify problem areas and solutions.

In a recent visit to Peel Common the Forum found the results of the new green solution “fantastic”. Southern Water Process Scientists are always looking to adopt appropriate technologies such as these to benefit the environment.

The Peel Common project is part of a Southern Water environmental scheme to improve water quality in the Solent area. The £30 million project is designed to remove nitrogen from the wastewater at the site. Nitrogen in water can cause excessive plant growth or algal blooms which reduces the oxygen in the water available for other organisms. The end result will be an overall improvement in water quality in the Solent.

This is project is part of a total £1.8 billion Southern Water capital expenditure programme between 2005 and 2010 which aim to improve customer service, upgrade tap water quality, safeguard water resources and improve the quality of wastewater that is treated and recycled into rivers and the sea.

Further information:
Southern Water
Southern House
Yeoman Road
Worthing BN13 3NX
Tel: +44 (0)1903 272606
Email: customerservices@southernwater.co.uk
Web: www.southernwater.co.uk

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