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FLOW EQUALIZATION

The influent to an industrial wastewater treatment system (IWTS) varies in flow and concentration
of pollutants because the discharges from the manufacturing and utility processes are not constant.
This variation affects the operation of the IWTS and could adversely affect the effluent quality
from the plant. The objective of equalization is to minimize or control fluctuations in wastewater
characteristics in order to provide optimum conditions for subsequent treatment processes. There
are two common methods of flow equalization: in-line and off-line equalization as shown below:

In-line and off-line equalization systems are both effective ways to equalize flow volumes, but inline equalization is more effective for leveling out the variations in influent concentration because
the entire flow is blended with the entire contents of the holding tank. The size and type of
equalization basin provided varies with the quantity of waste and the variability of the wastewater
stream. The basin should be of a sufficient size to adequately absorb waste fluctuations caused by
variations in plant-production scheduling and to dampen the concentrated batches periodically
dumped or spilled to the sewer.
The purpose of equalization for industrial treatment facilities are:
1. To provide adequate dampening of organic fluctuations in order to prevent shock loading of
biological systems.
2. To provide adequate pH control or to minimize the chemical requirements necessary for
neutralization.
3. To minimize flow surges to physical-chemical treatment systems and permit chemical feed
rates compatible with feeding equipment.
4. To provide continuous feed to biological systems over periods when the manufacturing plant
is not operating.

5. To provide capacity for controlled discharge of wastes to municipal systems in order to


distribute waste loads more evenly.
6. To prevent high concentrations of toxic materials from entering the biological treatment plant.

Mixing is usually provided to ensure adequate equalization and to prevent settleable solids from
depositing in the basin. In addition, the oxidation of reduced compounds present in the wastestream
or the reduction of BOD by air stripping may be achieved through mixing and aeration. Methods
that have been used for mixing include distribution of inlet flow and baffling, turbine mixing,
diffused air aeration and mechanical aeration. The most common method is to provide submerged
mixers or, in the case of a readily degradable wastewater such as a brewery, to use surface aerators
employing a power level of approximately (0.003 to 0.004 KW/m3 ). Air requirements for diffused
air aeration are approximately 3.74 m3 air / m waste (Eckenfelder, 1989). Equalization basin types
are shown below:

Equalization basin types (Eckenfelder, 1989)

The equalization basin may be designed with a variable volume to provide, a constant effluent
flow or with a constant volume and an effluent flow which varies with the influent. The variablevolume basin is particularly applicable to the chemical treatment of wastes having a low daily
volume. This type of basin may also be used for discharge of wastes to municipal sewers. It may
be desirable to program the effluent pumping rate to discharge the maximum quantity of waste
during periods of normally low flow to the municipal treatment facility.

Equalization basins may be designed to equalize flow, concentration, or both. For flow
equalization, the cumulative flow is plotted versus time over the equalization period (that is, 24 h).
The maximum volume with respect to the constant discharge line is the equalization volume
required.