Treatment Ponds

Wastewater treatment can be accomplished using ponds. Shallow ponds (3 to 5 feet) are relatively easy to build and manage, they accommodate large fluctuations in flow, and they can also provide treatment that approaches the effectiveness of conventional systems (producing a highly purified effluent) at much lower cost. It is the cost advantage (the economics) that drives many managers to decide on the pond option. The actual degree of treatment provided depends on the type and number of ponds used. Ponds can be used as the sole type of treatment, or they can be used in conjunction with other forms of wastewater treatment—that is, other treatment processes followed by a pond or a pond followed by other treatment processes.

As with any other wastewater treatment process, each type of treatment has its advantages and disadvantages. As a completer process, and for areas where land is not costly and the location is isolated from residential, commercial, and recreational areas, the ponding of wastewater offers many advantages for smaller installations, including:

• Does not require expensive equipment

• Does not require highly trained operation personnel

• Is economical to construct

• Provides treatment that is equal or superior to some convention processes

• Is adaptable to changing loads

• Is adaptable to land application

• Consumes little energy

• Has an increased potential design life

• Serves as a wildlife habitat

• Is usually the most trouble free of any treatment process

• Has few sludge handling and disposal problems

Treatment ponds also have limitations; for example, they:

• Require a large area of land

• May contaminate ground waters unless properly lined

• Treat wastes inconsistently, depending on climatic conditions

• Can have high suspended solids levels in the effluent

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