Recycling Nutrients from Industrial Wastewater by Aqua-culture Systems in Temperate Climates (Switzerland)

; (). Recycling Nutrients from Industrial Wastewater by Aqua-culture Systems in Temperate Climates (Switzerland). Journal of Applied Aquaculture, 13 dx.doi.org/10.1300/J028v13n01_04. Peer reviewed.

A wastewater-fed, partly indoor aquaculture plant (36 basins, 360 m2 and 420 m3 in total) was designed in Otelfingen/Zurich, Switzerland. It was charged with the effluent from a methanization plant processing organic household waste and started operation in spring 1998. The aim of the successive arrangement of the different modules and steps was to efficiently recycle water-borne nutrients in the form of aquatic biomass products, such as floating (ornamental) macrophytes, fish, zoo- and phytoplankton, suitable for selling on the Swiss market. Besides treating the effluent (total organic carbon [TOC], total nitrogen, nitrate [NO3-N], ammonium [NH4-N], and total phosphorus concentrations being 670 g/m3, 255 g/m3, 150 g/m3, 95 g/m3, and 52 g/m3, respectively) according to Swiss law requirements, the research focused on the search for suitable aquatic organisms and their testing at different environmental conditions. During the 16-week experimental period, a total of 2,150kg fresh weight (FW) ofbiomass (97% as floatingmacrophytes) was harvested. This way, 176 g/week nitrogen and 47 g/week phosphorus wereeliminated by assimilation, corresponding to 25-35% of the system's inflow. Due to relatively high evapotranspiration rates (on average 35.4 mm/week) and for water reconditioning purpose in the fish stocking basins, fresh water was added. Nevertheless, the system's final effluent was very low (21% of total inflow plus rainfall) and was carrying only about 2% and 0.5% of the input loads of nitrogen and phosphorus, respectively. Hence, the elimination rate was significantly above the average performance of a conventional system normally applied in Middle Europe, althoughthe concentration values of most parameters in the outflow were comparable. Macrophyte production (and thus nutrient assimilation) was close to theoretical maxima in basins with high nutrient levels. Both plankton and fish growth were, at their best, only moderately satisfying. The semi-continual planktonic microalgae culture, and therefore also zooplankton culture, could be improved if the light absorbing humic substances were removed in a pre-treatment. Under given conditions (i.e., temperate climate) fish would rather play an accompanying role in the ecological production process. A wastewater-fed aquaculture facility resembles an integrated production plant rather than a wastewater disposal site. In addition to that, it has potential to prove advantageous over the highly developed conventional wastewater treatment plants established in Middle Europe. Further research in this field is essential and also recommended, considering political programs like Agenda 21, which contemplate the need for sustainable strategies for handling resources.