Oil, fiber, and SS can be tolerated in granular filtration systems, within limits. The scale-forming tendencies of the wastewater must also be eliminated or controlled. These systems generate backwash water as a natural consequence of the process and wastewater treatment facilities must provide for its proper handling.

Fiber in concentrations greater than about 10 to 25 mg/l can cause operating problems in granular filters. Long fibers mat and blind off the filter surface. Short fibers accumulate in the underdrains and plug the bottom of the filter unless special designs are used to prevent it.

Oil can plug the underdrains or prevent complete back-washing, especially when fine-bed media (less than 1.0 mm diameter) are used. Water-wash filters can have difficulty operating with 25 mg/l of free oil, while heavy-duty, air-scouring backwash systems can operate satisfactorily with up to 50 to 75 mg/l of oil. Oil reduces the specific solids loading and breaks through the filter sooner than SS. Figure 7.33.8 shows this effect.

An SS concentration in the influent of about 100 mg/l can be tolerated in a properly designed granular filter provided that the size of the solids does not prevent penetration into the media. The maximum feasible particle size is about 200 p although minor concentrations (5 mg/l) of oversized solids, such as leaf fragments and bits of paper, can be tolerated. High SS concentrations reduce the filter cycle time, which becomes a problem when the operating cycle is so short that the filters cannot be washed in time to keep the system in operation. For example, if six filters are in a continuous system and a total of 1/2 hr is required to wash a filter, the minimum usable cycle time is 3 hr.

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