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High-Strength Wastewater From Biopharma Operations – An Emerging Issue

Abstract: Historically, high-strength wastewater discharges from biotechnology/ pharmaceutical (biopharma) manufacturing operations containing high levels of organics, nitrogen, and phosphorus posed little concern to municipal wastewater recovery facilities (WWRFs). However, with more stringent state and federal wastewater discharge regulations for nutrients, local WWRFs discharging to impaired waterways are being required to invest large sums of capital to upgrade and install additional unit operations for nutrient removal. In combination with these significant WWRF upgrades to meet lower nutrient discharge limits, industrial pretreatment programs in these municipalities will also look upstream at high nutrient load discharges from industries such as biopharma manufacturing companies. This paper provides an overview of the biopharma industry, its typical wastewater discharges, and the challenges that both the industry and municipally owned treatment plants will face assessing and treating high-strength wastes.

Tighe & Bond Authors: Wayne E. Bates, PhD, P.E. and William Potochniak, P.E.

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