Biodiversity Model to Identify Wastewater Effluent Strength

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Abstract :

For centuries sewage and industrial waste have been discharged into lakes and streams. Only during the past 100 years (Kolkwitz et al. 1909) have biologists, chemists, and engineers made in-depth analyses into how the polluted waters affect living organisms (both macro- and microscopic) in an aquatic ecosystem. The in-depth analyses resulted in the use of biodiversity indices as a means of rating pollution levels of these lakes and streams.

Biodiversity (for the purpose of this study) is the number and types of species present in a naturally occurring, undisturbed environment. The environment could be a rain forest, an open grassland, a river, a lake, etc. From the early 1900s, biologists have used indicator organisms to indicate the level of pollution present (Kolkwitz et al. 1909). As early as 1948 (Shannon 1948), models were being developed to analyze large data sets. The technology of information theory was used by Brillouin (1960), Margalef (1956), Patten (1962), Wilhm et al. (1968), Qinghong (1994), and Jhingran et al. (1993) to develop biodiversity models (indices) based on the work of Shannon (1948) and Wiener (1948). Biodiversity indices have primarily been used to model macro- and micro-invertebrate populations in stream and lake communities, species diversity in rain forests, and species diversity in areas undergoing development.

Usually a change in the biodiversity of an area from its natural, undisturbed state indicates the presence of factors influencing changes in the biological community. This same concept can be utilized in the field of wastewater treatment. Presently, chemical and physical properties of wastewater are analyzed, reviewed, and if necessary, a bioassay analysis is conducted to gauge effluent strength. By determining the biodiversity of a wastewater effluent, researchers can determine the level of impact that the effluent imposes on the environment. Our overall objective was to investigate the potential use of a biodiversity index as a new technique for determining wastewater effluent strength and the impact on the receiving stream. More specifically, traditional parameters used in classifying waste strength (such as BOD, TSS, DO, and pH) were analyzed and compared to the biodiversity index of the waste stream.