Skip to main content

Using the Microscope

Mike Baumgartner, Wastewater Specialist
Mike Baumgartner
Wastewater Technician


 

 

By: Mike Baumgartner, ARWA Wastewater Technician

One of the most important tools used in pro-cess control of an activated sludge plant is the microscope. Because microorganisms follow distinct patterns in all activated sludge systems, it is possible to determine the operating characteristics of various biological systems by performing microscopic exams. A microscope with a reasonable resolution of 100 power will suffice. A slide needs to prepared using 1-2 drops of mixed liquor on a clean glass slide with a cover plate.

During the initial viewing, you should look for a few key items. They include: Floc structure (dispersed or overgrown), Floc color and Types of Indicator organisms. Remember, bacteria are the most important group of microorganisms but are too small to see. There is staining methods used with microscopes but that is for another discussion. Indicator organisms are what is concentrated on. Those are the Protozoa which consist of Flagellates, Free swimming ciliates and Stalk ciliates. And of course, we can’t leave out the Rotifer.

Observation of these indicator organisms can reveal characteristics of the activated sludge. It is important to be able to recognize a good, healthy activated sludge as seen through the microscope. An abundance of or a sud-den loss of any of the indicators will tip off the operator that trouble is heading his or her way.

For example: A sudden loss of Protozoa indicators can result from anaerobic conditions (Dissolved Oxygen Too Low) or a toxic shock condition. An abundance of Rotifers is an indication that you are stable but heading toward an older sludge. I could go on and on. Let’s end the conversation by saying that recognizing key microor-ganism indicators is only possible from repeated observations of various activated sludges. With experience, it is possible to analyze any activated sludge process performance from microscopic examinations.

First appeared in Waterline, Summer 2017

- More News -

 

AL/FL Joint Technical Training Conference
Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort
CANCELED
Sept 22-24, 2020
Panama City Beach, FL
- Hotel honoring Discount! -

Mark your Calendar!
for
ARWA's 43rd Annual Technical Training Conference
Mobile, Alabama
March 14-17, 2021

 

 

Open for Registration

  
See all open CEH classes
in our new training section at
training.alruralwater.com
  
Wastewater Training: NPDES Permits, SSOs, & DMRs (WW)
Aug 20 - Gulf Shores
Onsite/Webinar Choice
Learn More
  
Grade I/II Water Certification Test Prep
Starts Sep 1-Online
Learn More and Register
  
Water Meter Projects & Management (W)
Sep 2 -Webinar
Learn More and Register
  
PFAS & PB/CU Current Drinking Water Technologies (W)
Sep 3-Webinar
Learn More and Register
  
AL/FL Joint Technical Training Conference (W/WW)
CANCELED
September 22-24, 2020
Panama City Beach, Florida
Learn More
  
Save the Date!
ARWA's 43rd Annual Technical Training Conference
(W/WW)
March 14-17, 2021
Mobile, Alabama

Learn More
  
Water University
Utility Management Certification

Learn More
  
Schedule your own
On-site CEH Training

Earn CEHs
  
Plan for future training!
Training Calendar

Water Loss Protection

The ARWA/NRWA ServLine Program protects your utility against losses from customers’ water leaks, and provides the opportunity for them to add service line repair replacement protection.
Learn more.


Get Social

Check out ARWA TV!

You can already read our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram news right here on our website.

Visit our News page or feed pages for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Pay Online

Pay any ARWA invoice online.
Pay Online

nexcheckGov
 
Learn about offering
online bill pay to your customers!


ARWA

Alabama Rural Water Association is a non-profit organization representing water and wastewater systems serving rural communities and towns and commercial firms which support these systems.

We provide assistance to comply with State and Federal regulations, to help with management and operational problems, and to stimulate training initiatives.

Learn more about us.

GET IN TOUCH

Alabama Rural Water Association
2576 Bell Road
Montgomery AL 36117 
Phone: (334) 396-5511
Fax: (334) 396-7090 
Email: arwa@alruralwater.com
Website: www.alruralwater.com