Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Sarina J. Ergas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Yeh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George Cassady, M.S.


Activated Sludge Modeling, BioWin, Process control, Simultaneous Nitrification-Denitrification


Advanced wastewater treatment plants must meet permit requirements for organics, solids, nutrients and indicator bacteria, while striving to do so in a cost effective manner. This requires meeting day-to-day fluctuations in climate, influent flows and pollutant loads as well as equipment availability with appropriate and effective process control measures. A study was carried out to assess performance and process control strategies at the Falkenburg Road Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Hillsborough County, Florida.

Three main areas for control of the wastewater treatment process are aeration, return and waste sludge flows, and addition of chemicals. The Falkenburg AWWTP uses oxidation ditches where both nitrification and denitrification take place simultaneously in a low dissolved oxygen, extended aeration environment. Anaerobic selectors before the oxidation ditches help control the growth of filamentous organisms and may also initiate biological phosphorus removal. The addition of aluminum sulfate for chemical phosphorus removal ensures phosphorus permit limits are met. Wasting is conducted by maintaining a desired mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) concentration in the oxidation ditches.

For this study, activated sludge modeling was used to construct and calibrate a model of the plant. This required historical data to be collected and compiled, and supplemental sampling to be carried out. Kinetic parameters were adjusted in the model to achieve simultaneous nitrification-denitrification. A sensitivity analysis found maximum specific growth rates of nitrifying organisms and several half saturation constants to be influential to the model. Simulations were run with the calibrated model to observe relationships between sludge age, MLSS concentrations, influent loading, and effluent nitrogen concentrations.

Although the case-study treatment plant is meeting discharge permit limits, there are several recommendations for improving operation performance and efficiency. Controlling wasting based on a target MLSS concentration causes wide swings in the sludge age of the system. Mixed liquor suspended solids concentration is a response variable to changes in sludge age and influent substrate. Chemical addition for phosphorus removal should also be optimized for cost savings. Finally, automation of aeration control using online analyzers will tighten control and reduce energy usage.