Project #4973

Guidelines for Optimizing Nutrient Removal Plant Performance

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Ms. Stephanie Fevig, PE
HDR Engineering, Inc.
Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR)


Water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) across the United States are facing demands to remove nutrients. Existing nutrient removal and secondary WRRFs alike are challenged to optimize their WRRFs to reduce nutrients discharged into receiving water bodies. This project developed a comprehensive guidance tool that WRRF staff and others can use for optimizing WRRFs to meet one or more fundamental objectives: (1) reduce nutrient discharge levels, (2) increase reliability, and (3) reduce costs. The guidance tool provides a stepwise progression starting with the current treatment processes and advancing to a list of nutrient removal optimization strategies. The comprehensive guidance documents presented in the report have also been summarized into a standalone, user-friendly web tool. In addition to these resources, the research team hosted a 13-part webcast series covering all facets of nutrient management. The webcast recordings are no longer available, however the slides from each event are posted below. Results from the webcast audience polls are incorporated into the report and available as a project paper. Published in 2023.

Project Resources:

  • Report and Executive Summary
  • Path to Nutrient Optimization Web Tool
  • 13 Webcasts
  • Project Paper – Appendix E: Webinar Series Reports


Public Plus

Optimize Nutrient Removal WRRF Operations

This webcast will cover optimization strategies for nitrogen and phosphorus removal in nitrifying, conventional nutrient removal, and tertiary nutrient removal processes. Presenters will discuss ammonia, nitrogen, chemical, and biological phosphorus...
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Nutrient Reduction Approaches for Small Systems

This webcast will explain the nutrient regulatory landscape for small systems ( less than 10,000 people or 1 mgd) and will cover tertiary treatment, stand-alone, pre-engineered, and natural systems. Some...
Public Plus

Optimizing Nutrient Removal WRRFs

This webcast covered optimization strategies for nitrogen and phosphorus removal in nitrifying, conventional nutrient removal, and tertiary nutrient removal processes. Presenters discussed ammonia, nitrogen, chemical, and biological phosphorus removal to...
Public Plus

Strategies to Reduce O&M Cost in Nutrient Removal WRRFS

The presenters discussed strategies to reduce O&M costs at nutrient removal facilities,* including metrics for energy and chemical usage. They also covered strategies to reduce energy and chemical usage, e.g...
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Sidestream Management to Optimize WRRF Nutrient Removal

Internal recycles, such as reject water and sidestreams from solids processing WRRFs can impact nutrient removal efficiency as well as create nuisance conditions. Managing these recycles can improve nutrient removal...
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Emerging Technologies for Nutrient Optimization

This webcast discussed emerging technologies for nutrient optimization of existing facilities, including emerging process developments, equipment, treatment and regulatory strategies, and overall system nutrient control approaches. The webcast will focus...
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Nutrient Reduction from Secondary BOD Removal WRRFs

This presentation covered strategies to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from an existing secondary biological oxygen demand-only plant. The discussions focused on process modifications, limited change within the basins (not...