Bacteria are living microorganisms that naturally exist around us. In wastewater, bacteria is formed naturally wherein it reproduces and multiplies as it feeds on its favourite meal - organic waste (nutrients). This is what they call ‘good’ bacteria, which are used in STPs to minimise the contaminants and enhance water quality in the effluent. It is mainly used to reduce biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) levels accordingly. Other strains of bacteria specialise in biodegrading organic nitrogen and reducing ammonia levels in wastewater. Another advantage for using bacteria is odour control by reducing anaerobic activity and promoting aerobic conditions.
In many cases, the nutrients available in the wastewater are insufficient for naturally existing bacteria to achieve maximum growth. On the other hand, in certain instances, operators might need a shock dose of bacteria to kick off a new system or boost a lazy microbial process. “In situations like these, naturally occurring bacteria can be added in forms of liquid, powder, or solid, to replace the use of activated sludge to treat municipal and industrial wastewater at the plant,” says Abu-Chakra. “On a commercial level, bacteria are widely used in Dubai by kitchen service providers to maintain the cleanliness of grease traps and drainage. Bacteria love to feed on organic waste, and kitchen grease trap and drainages are full of fat, oil and grease (FOG), which provides an optimum living condition for bacteria. This in turn results in breaking down the FOG, preventing blockage, sludge/scum accumulation and bad odour in the kitchens,” informs Abu-Chakra.
Abu-Chakra further highlights another important issue about septic tanks. “I have noticed that many hotels, malls and residential building that have their own separate septic tanks are barely in a ‘healthy’ state due to its tough condition, lack of oxygen and the underground toxicity allowing anaerobic bacteria to grow and spread. Septic tanks are usually located in the basements, without proper ventilation; the intensity of the sewage odour can breach up to the toilets inconveniencing the guests and residents. The problem might also escalate to the HVAC system spreading the odour in lobbies and parking lots. As a precaution, a property must follow a proper cleaning sequence. You can also introduce bacteria in the form of tablets as a solution for the odour.”
Coming back to cleaning solutions, Abu-Chakra reiterates that bacteria can also be deployed as a ready-touse cleaning solution that is also compatible with other cleaning surfactants. “It can be used to develop a fully established ‘green’ detergent range for all-purpose cleaners, carpet cleaners, drain treatment, degreasers and odour control. It is sustainable because it is eco-friendly and doesn’t harm the sewer system. Also, it is known that bio-detergents have a longlasting residual effect, as it creates a biofilm of ‘good’ bacteria to protect the surface further after cleaning,” concludes Abu-Chakra.