Aerial view of the Warren, Maine lagoon system. Photo courtesy of Woodard and Curran.

Lagoon Systems In Maine 

Systems In Maine

An Informational Resource for
Operators of Lagoon Systems

Mars Hill Wastewater Lagoon System - Mars Hill  Maine. Photo Courtesy of Wright-Pierce Engineers.
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Design & Operation
Lagoon Aeration
Tech Papers
Operation Articles
Lagoons In Maine
The Laboratory
Maine Lagoon News
Lagoon Biology

2003 Maine Wastewater Salary Survey as conducted by the Maine Wastewater Control Association

2003 Maine Wastewater Rate Survey conducted by the Maine Rural Water Association

Maine DEP Monthly
O & M Newsletter

Maine and WEF's
Operation Forum

Penobscot Watershed and Development of a TMDL 

EPA Binational Toxics

Maine Rural Water

Maine Wastewater
Operator Certification

Maine Is Technology

Maine Wastewater Control Association

Maine WasteWater Control Association

Wastewater Engineering



Aerated Lagoon Technology

Site Map

  • Acknowledgements
    This site is maintained as an informational resource guide for operators of lagoon systems and for those those that are interested in water pollution control via wastewater lagoons systems.
  • Website Mission
    The mission of the Maine Lagoon Systems website is to promote clean water resources through the enhanced communication of wastewater lagoon system operators in the state of Maine and beyond.
  • Search this Site
    Perform a complete search on the Maine Lagoon Systems website to locate specific information or articles that you may be looking for on the operation and maintenance of wastewater lagoon systems.
  • Wastewater Treatment Links
    Worldwide Wastewater Web Resources
  • Design and Operation of Wastewater Lagoons
    Lagoons are pond-like bodies of water or basins designed to receive, hold, and treat wastewater for a predetermined period of time. If necessary, they are lined with material, such as clay or an artificial liner, to prevent leaks to the groundwater below.
    • General Concepts
      Lagoons and ponds refer broadly to basins constructed in, or on the ground surface, using earthen dikes to retain the wastewater within which natural stabilization processes occur with the necessary oxygen coming from atmospheric diffusion, photosynthetic and/or mechanical sources. More specifically, there are anaerobic lagoons, facultative ponds, complete mix aerated ponds, partial mix aerated ponds and various hybrids. The following discussion is limited to facultative ponds, complete mix aerated lagoons, and partial mix aerated lagoons.

      Design and Operation of Wastewater Sewage Lagoons
      Lagoons and ponds refer broadly to basins constructed in, or on the ground surface, using earthen dikes to retain the wastewater within which natural stabilization processes occur with the necessary oxygen coming from atmospheric diffusion, photosynthetic and/or mechanical sources. More specifically, there are facultative stabilization ponds, complete mix aerated ponds, partial mix aerated lagoons, anaerobic lagoons and various hybrids. In Maine most of the lagoons and ponds are partial mix aerated lagoons and facultative stabilization ponds. This manual addresses the design, operation, and regulatory control of municipally operated partial mix aerated lagoons and stabilization ponds and is intended to be a tool for operators, engineers and regulators.
      • Maine Lagoons Executive Summary
        In 1994, a Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff committee was formed to evaluate the performance of lagoons and ponds. The DEP staff presented its findings and recommendations at a public workshop on October 24, 1995. During that workshop, several issues were identified and workshop participants agreed that a task force should be established to resolve the issues.
        • General Concepts II
          Biochemcial Interactions - Photosynthesis is the process whereby organisms are able to grow utilizing the sun's radiant energy to power the fixation of atmospheric C02 and subsequently provide the reducing power to convert the C02 to organic compounds. The following represents the biochemical reactions that occur during photosynthesis and respiration by algae.
  • Sewage Lagoon Aeration
    Wastewater lagoon aeration represents one of the most energy intensive operations in the wastewater treatment system, consuming between 50 and 90% of the total energy costs of a typical municipal treatment facility.
    • Aeration - A Wastewater Treatment Process
      The aeration segment in these systems is the most critical component and is the core of their biological treatment process. A lagoon systems ability to aerate the incoming sewage has a direct impact on the level of wastewater treatment it achieves.
      • Coarse Bubble Static Tubes
        Course bubble static tubes create bubbles ( photo of coarse bubble aeration pattern to the left ) by pushing air through a series of baffles that break up the air flow into bubbles.
        • Fine Bubble Aerators
          Fine bubbles are much more efficient at transferring air because they create a larger transfer surface area per unit volume of added air. While coarse bubble diffusion efficiency may have an OTE of 0.75% per foot of pond depth, fine bubble systems may have an OTE of up to 2% per foot.
  • Aerated Lagoon Technology
    Aerated lagoon technology, especially that of high-performance systems, is one of the most misunderstood technology in wastewater treatment.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 1 - Effluent BOD5
      In spite of the fact that effluent BOD5 is a key parameter in many discharge permits for aerated lagoons, it is the most misleading.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 2 - Aerated Lagoon Effluents
      There are two great myths in aerated lagoon technology. The first myth is that effluent BOD5 measures the biodegradable carbonaceous material in the effluent.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 3 - Control of Algae
      Algae growing in an aerated lagoon system will increase both the TSS and the CBOD5 of the effluent. In systems treating municipal wastewaters, the effluent TSS and CBOD5 will often be many times that which would occur if the algae had not been present.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 4 - Nitrites and Their Impact on Effluent Chlorination
      Chlorination of secondary treatment effluents is some times impaired by an immediate chlorine demand exerted by nitrites. Such a demand is erratic and can be so large as to prevent maintaining a chlorine residual regardless of the dosage.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 5 - Aerated Lagoons for Secondary Treatment
      Historically, effluent data for aerated lagoons treating municipal wastewaters have been expressed in terms of BOD5 and TSS. This is unfortunate.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 6 - Nitrification in Aerated Lagoons and with Intermittent Sand Filters
      This technical note considers the fundamentals of nitrification and the removal of ammonia in aerated lagoons.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 7 - Mixed Liquor Recycle Lagoon Nitrification System
      As was discussed in Technical Note 6, during warm summer months, some nitrification generally occurs in most aerated lagoons. However, such nitrification is usually unpredictable and cannot be depended upon to meet effluent limits, especially during the winter months.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 8 Facultative Lagoons: A Different Technology
       It is useful to consider the differences between the technology and performance of facultative lagoons as they have been used to treat domestic wastewaters with those of the high performance aerated lagoons discussed in Technical Note Number 5.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 9 - Sludge Accumulation of High Performance Aerated Lagoon Systems
      Both sludge accumulation rates and solids contents are important factors in the rational design of high-performance lagoons.
    • Aerated Lagoon Technology Technote 10 - Ammonia feedback in the Sludge Basin of a CFID Nitrification System
      The discharge of the reactor basin through the sludge basin in a continuous flow, intermittent discharge (CFID) nitrification system is predicated on the assumption that there is no feed back of ammonia from the bottom sludge deposit to the over lying water column (See Technical Note Number 7).


  • Cold Temperature Nitrification Using Ringlace
    Enhanced Cold Temperature Nitrification in a Municipal Aerated Lagoon Using Ringlace Fixed Film Media
  • Nitrification Basics for Wastewater Lagoons
  • Municipal Wastewater Lagoon Phosphorus Removal
    Phosphorus is essential to the growth of organisms and can be the nutrient that limits the primary use of a body of water.
  • Pushing the Limits of Cold Temperature Nitrification
    Concerns about cold temperature nitrification usually arise when water temperature in the biological treatment system drop 5 degrees Celsius or below. At this temperature the nitrifying bacteria responsible for oxidizing ammonia tend to go dormant. If this happens, it usually means effluent violations for those plants with ammonia limits.
  • Lagoons in Maine
  • Environmental Wastewater Laboratory Procedures and Methods
    Tim Loftus has been the Chief Chemist and Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator at the Webster-Dudley Wastewater Treatment Facility in Massachusetts since 1988.
    • Chain of Custody Procedure
      The chain-of-custody procedure incorporates a number of controls to assure the integrity of a sample. These procedures, along with the required written documentation, provide you with the necessary backing to defend the integrity of the sample in any litigation – whether it is to resolve an NPDES issue or an Industrial Pretreatment Program one.
    • Acidity and Alkalinity
      Acidity levels in wastewater indicate its corrosive properties and can take a leading role in regulating biological processes as well as in chemical reactions (such as chemical coagulation and flocculation). Alkalinity, too, contributes to the properties of wastewater, many of which also affect biological processes (such as nitrification) and chemical reactions.
    • BOD Test Part 1
      Legend has it that the 5-day BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) test was developed in England. Sewage was dumped in a river and it took five days for it to reach the ocean, hence the five-day incubation requirement in the BOD method.
    • BOD Test Part 2
      This article will cover additional techniques and hints to get accurate and valid BOD results
    • BOD Test Part 3
      This third and final article in the series will focus on the results of BOD analyses.
    • Chemical Storage
      Included in this article are some general recommendations for storing laboratory chemicals. It is not a complete list and should only serve as a starting point in making your laboratory a safer place to work.
    • Ecoli
      The fecal coliform group and E. coli (which is one specie of bacteria in the fecal group) are used as indicator organisms to test the effectiveness of effluent disinfection in a wastewater treatment plant.
    • Method Detection Limits
      There are several different types of detection limits depending what is being defined. However, the method detection limit (MDL) is the only one designed to be determined in your laboratory using your chemicals, equipment, and technicians.
    • pH
      Out of all the analytical measurements taken throughout every branch of science and process control, pH analyses are probably the most common. In the wastewater field pH analyses are important for neutralization, corrosion control, precipitation, coagulation, and biological treatment.
    • Sample Contamination
      Good sample results start with good sampling, and one of the major components of good sampling is clean equipment
    • Standard Operating Procedures
      SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures, should be part of every wastewater treatment laboratory. These are instructions on how to perform a variety of tasks including, but certainly not limited to, procedures for analytical analyses, sample collection, reporting and data transfer, the testing frequency of quality control samples, and equipment calibration and maintenance.
    • Significant Digits
      Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with a chalk line, then cut it with an axe. You probably experience some form of this every day. It’s common to mix analytical instrumentation, glassware, and reagents that have varying degrees of accuracy.

      Signs of Toxicity
      A toxic waste in a treatment plant will not always kill off the whole system. It may not even lead to an NPDES permit violation. But it will lead to reduced treatment efficiency and inefficient plants are not only more difficult to operate, they are more expensive to run.
    • Total Suspended Solids
      TSS, or total suspended solids, seems like an easy and innocent enough test to perform. For the most part, it is. But are you following this test procedure as it should be followed?
    • Quality Control Samples
       James Dux, Ph.D. describes quality control in his book, Handbook of Quality Assurance for the Analytical Chemical Laboratory, as “those operations undertaken in the laboratory to ensure that the data are generated within known probability limits of accuracy and precision.” In other words, it is the stuff that you do that shows whether your lab results are most likely right.
  • Sewage Lagoon Biology
    Microorganisms found in aerated and facultative ponds are more diverse than those observed in many other biological treatment processes, due to the diverse growth environments present. Both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are involved as well as algae and some higher life forms such as protozoans, rotifers, daphnia, and insect larvae.
  • Resources
    Over time some lagoon operators have gained expertise in certain areas. If you are having any problems in any of these areas and would like to talk to someone knowledgeable in these subjects, the following guide will help you. The information for this table was gathered in a 1996 survey of lagoons performed by the Maine Lagoon Task Force.
  • Biosolids
    The proper utilization and disposal of sludge is one of the most critical issues facing wastewater treatment plants today. Soaring budgets, difficulties in site selection, and the changing nature of regulations combine to create major problems for our treatment plants. This page is intended to give the reader a basic overview of some of the different options available to plants for sludge management.
    • Biosolids Composting
      Simply stated, composting is the biological decomposition of the organic constituents of wastes under controlled conditions. The term "decomposition" is used instead of "stabilization", because when applied to a practical usage, the process is rarely carried on to the point at which the waste is completely stabilized.
      • Utilizing the Bullhead
        The introduction of hundreds of bullhead into his ponds did significantly reduce the large accumulation of sludge on the lagoon floors.
      • Land Application of Biosolids
         Land application is the application of biosolids to the land to either condition the soil or to fertilize crops or other vegetation grown in the soil. Nearly half the biosolids production in the United States is currently being used beneficially to improve soils.
      • Sludge Removal
        As biomass accumulates, the mass settles to the bottom of the lagoon creating a layer of sludge. This layer of sludge is monitored periodically for depth. While this layer is accumulating, the solids are undergoing aerobic and anaerobic digestion to the point where only inert solids remain.
      • Reedbeds
        The proper utilization and disposal of sludge is one of the most critical issues facing wastewater treatment plants today. Nearly all wastewater treatment plant operators face the problem of storing and disposing biosolids.
  • Maine DEP Contacts
  • Lagoon Terminology
  • Trouble Shooting
  • TMDL on The Penobscot River
    Watershed-based decision-making has become increasingly important in the development of discharge permits throughout the nation. Numerous states have reorganized their water quality planning and permitting sections along watershed boundaries to coordinate data collection, facilitate analysis, and synchronize permit issuances, including development of Total Daily Maximum Loads (TMDLs) for impaired waters identified under Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(d).
  • Operations Forum
    Operators of small rural treatment systems join forces to hold lagoon training sessions.


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