Characteristics of Grit

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Grit is the heavy mineral material in raw sewage, and may contain sand, gravel, silt, cinders, broken glass, seeds, small fragments of metal, and other small inorganic solids. It is generally nonputrescible. Grit settles more rapidly than organic or putrescible material in sewage, allowing a reasonably clean separation from the waste stream under normal conditions.

Grit is an inert material. Once drained of most of its water, it can be spread on the ground and used on roadways and sand drying beds. Ideally, clean grit contains less than 3% putrescible material. If it is not washed and cleaned, it presents a nuisance problem by causing foul odors, which attract rodents. Grit with high-putrescible levels must be buried after being removed from the grit collecting device. In a few cases, grit is burned before final disposal.

The quantity of grit varies from plant to plant. Storm drainage contains runoff from streets and open land areas and carries large concentrations of soil, sand, and cinders from land construction sites and street sanding. In a system serving only sanitary sewers, the grit load is smaller. This source contains egg shells, coffee grinds, broken glass, and similar materials. Sewer infiltration can also bring in fine silt and sand. The widespread use of home garbage grinders significantly adds to the grit load. Industrial waste discharged to the system can also carry a variety of gritty materials.

For design purposes environmental engineers should conduct studies to determine the quantity of grit carried by the system. In lieu of studies, 2 to 12 ft3 per mgd of sewage are often used although considerably larger grit loading can be experienced. Environmental engineers should consider the types of sewers used and the amount and types of industrial waste when designing the grit removal facility.

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