Dynamic variation of supernatant quality in a dairy shed waste stabilisation pond system
An intensive monitoring program of a standard two-stage dairy shed waste stabilisation pond system was undertaken to determine the incidence and extent of spatial and temporal variation of basic physio-chemical parameters, and to shed light on the longer term dynamic nature of in-pond conditions. The anaerobic-facultative pond system, located in a remote rural area, treats wastewater from the hosing down and hydraulic flushing of the milking parlour and holding yard at the farm dairy shed. A number of multi-parameter water quality field monitoring probes were permanently deployed at various locations within the two ponds to enable continuous measurement of temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen. In addition, profiling of the supernatant of both ponds was undertaken at different times of the year to examine vertical variation of the same parameters. Continuous monitoring revealed spatial homogeneity in EC and pH levels in the upper metre of both ponds. Physio-chemical parameters also appear to change uniformly across the ponds in response to external stimuli such as rainfall. Neither pond, however, exhibits homogeneity down the profile of the supernatant. Seasonal stratification is prevalent in the facultative pond suggesting poor vertical mixing, while the anaerobic pond is notably affected by sludge accumulation. A long-term pattern of rising conductivity in both ponds indicated accumulation of dissolved salt species in the system due to recirculation of reclaimed effluent for hydraulic flushing of the dairy shed. In the facultative pond, diurnal fluctuations in dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential and turbidity during warmer months of the year closely followed temperature swings. The extensive data collected in this study provides a detailed picture of the physio-chemical dynamics of two-stage stabilisation pond systems treating dairy shed wastewater.