South West takes the P out of wastewater with algae trial


South West Water is installing a phosphorus removal system that deploys algae. at one of its wastewater treatment plants. The move is part of a scheme for plants serving rural communities and other small catchments.

The system, according to South West Water, also strips out ammonia and “almost all harmful trace contaminants” including pharmaceuticals, insecticides and other persistent organic pollutants. The company said it will be monitoring the system’s performance at its Broadwindsor Sewage Treatment Works.

The system was developed by Bristol-based, Industrial Phycology. It deploys the processes in play in algal eutrophication – when algae proliferate by using pollutants as nutrients to form giant algal blooms that can poison waterways.

The manufacturer claims its system will remove up to 99% of phosphorus from wastewater.

Chief executive of Industrial Phycology, Russell Bright, highlighted the prospects for the technology at the UK’s 900 Water Industry National Environment Programme schemes where water companies are looking to reduce wastewater phosphorus levels. “The technology is a way of breaking away from the water industry’s reliance on chemical usage. This is positive news as chemicals carry with them potential safety and environmental risks, added to this is the increased demand and volatile price.”

Director of Asset Management at South West Water Mark Worsfold said he was “really excited” about the technology as a “sustainable, low-cost solution for smaller treatment catchments.”