Operational Limitations of Arctic Waste Stabilization Ponds: Insights from Modeling Oxygen Dynamics and Carbon Removal

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Presented here is a mechanistic model of the biological dynamics of the photic zone of a single-cell arctic waste stabilization pond (WSP) for the prediction of oxygen concentration and the removal of oxygen-demanding substances. The model is an exploratory model to assess the limiting environmental factors affecting treatment performance in arctic WSPs. A sensitivity analysis was used to provide a quantification of the relative uncertainties of parameters that exist within the described modeling framework. The model was able to qualitatively reproduce mesocosm experiment trends in phytoplankton growth, dissolved oxygen concentration, and the reduction of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand on Day 5 (CBOD5). These results demonstrated that CBOD5 reduction and oxygen state are very sensitive to organic loading regimes at low temperatures (5-15°C). The sensitivity analysis identified that it was the difference in phytoplankton growth rates, and the associated change in photosynthetic oxygen production, that mainly contribute to creating differences in CBOD5 removal rates and the development of aerobic conditions. The model was also sensitive to atmospheric aeration rates at low temperature, providing further evidence that low oxygen availability limits the treatment of CBOD5 in cold-climate WSPs. During the development process, it was discovered that common formulations of depth-integrated phytoplankton growth performed poorly for the arctic system to be modeled, which was a quiescent eutrophic environment. This paper presents a new phytoplankton growth formula within the paradigm of a poorly mixed eutrophic system that may find utilization in other eutrophic, colored, or turbid systems. The novel aspect of the approach is that the depth-integrated phytoplankton growth function was formulated upon the premise that the phytoplankton would be capable of orienting themselves to optimize their growth under poorly mixed conditions, and the average growth rate of the phytoplankton population must decrease as crowding puts pressure on shared resources. The general agreement of the model with the experiments, combined with the simplicity of the depth-integrated box model, suggests there is potential for further development of the model as a tool for assessing proposed arctic WSP designs. The sensitivity analysis highlighted the uncertainty and importance of the parameterization of bacterial and phytoplankton physiology and metabolism in WSP models.

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... Literature that examines the effects of waste management in the Arctic has mostly been focused on marine biology and environmental science (Jing et al. 2012;Ragush et al. 2018), military impact including radioactive waste (Nuttall, 1998;Council, 2009;Hird, 2016;Rahbek-Clemmensen, 2017), Industrial waste including oil spills (Owens et al. 2009) and more recently individual indigenous communities (Hird & Zahara, 2017). However the impact of international cooperation with Russia on waste management within circumpolar indigenous communities is largely limited to partnerships in the area of radio-active/nuclear waste (Sawhill 2000(Sawhill , 2001Champ et al. 2001;Ortman, 2009;Vijgen, 2013;Koval et al. 2016). ...
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Circumpolar communities continue to face huge challenges in waste management driven by global economic trends. Regional concerns over the increasing effects of climate change and environmental pollution has encouraged cross-border partnerships and joint project collaboration amongst Arctic member states. New incentives have also been introduced to foster regional investments in the waste management sector due to growing demands for sustainable solutions by indigenous communities. This paper provides insight to the existing cooperation programs between Russia and other Arctic member states specifically in the field of sustainable development and waste management. The study also presents a case study review on the extant municipal waste management challenges being faced by indigenous communities in the region and the attendant programs developed to ameliorate the negative impact. The research methodology applied comprises the analysis of related research, public documents and official reports.
... Another important consideration in evaluating Arctic lagoon performance could be related to the contribution of algae blooms to COD removal. This attribution is supported by Ragush et al. (2018) and Schmidt et al. (2017), who examined oxygen dynamics and organic degradation for lagoons during the ice-free period and demonstrated algae's contribution in supporting aerobic degradation. While the current version of the model does not consider algae growth, it appears to be indirectly accounted for by the oxygen transfer coefficient (k L ). ...
Waste stabilisation ponds (WSPs) are the method of choice for sewage treatment in most arctic communities because they can operate in extreme climate conditions, require a relatively modest investment, are passive and therefore easy and inexpensive to operate and maintain. However, most arctic WSPs are currently limited in their ability to remove carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD), total suspended solids (TSS) and ammonia-nitrogen. An arctic WSP differs from a 'southern' WSP in the way it is operated and in the conditions under which it operates. Consequently, existing WSP models cannot be used to gain better understanding of the arctic lagoon performance. This work describes an Arctic-specific WSP model. It accounts for both aerobic and anaerobic degradation pathways of organic materials and considers the periodic nature of WSP operation as well as the partial or complete freeze of the water in the WSP during winter. A uniform, multi-layer (ice, aerobic, anaerobic and sludge) approach was taken in the model development, which simplified and expedited numerical solution of the model, enabling efficient model calibration to available field data.
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Light is never distributed homogeneously since it forms a gradient over biomass. As a consequence, the common theories on nutrient competition are not applicable to competition for light. In this paper, we investigate a model for light-limited growth and competition among phytoplankton species in a mixed water column. The model is based on standard assumptions such as Lambert-Beer's law of light absorption, a Monod equation for carbon uptake, and constant specific carbon losses. By introducing the concept of quantum return, we show that the dynamics of growth and competition can be quantified not only in terms of depth but also directly in terms of light availability. We argue that the crucial measure for phytoplankton growth is not a ''critical depth'' but a ''critical light intensity,'' I-out*. For each species, I-out* corresponds to the equilibrium light intensity at the bottom of a water column when the species is grown in monoculture. I-out* plays a role similar to the ''critical nutrient concentration'' R* used in models of nutrient-limited growth. For a constant light supply, the species with the lowest I-out* will competitively exclude all other species. There are, however, some important differences between R* and I-out*. Whereas R* reflects both the local and the total balance between nutrient uptake and nutrient losses, I-out* only reflects the total carbon balance. Moreover, I-out* decreases with increasing light supply, whereas R* is independent of the nutrient supply. As a consequence, (1) the outcome of competition for light may depend on the light supply, (2) the compensation point is not a good predictor for the outcome of competition, (3) the resource ratio hypothesis does not apply when species compete for both nutrients and light. The outcome of competition for nutrients and light may depend on the nutrient and light supply, on the mixing depth, and on the background turbidity due to inanimate substances.
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