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Waste Education Center

The Waste Education Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point contains a working wastewater treatment plant with state-of-the-industry technology, the same processes and technology used in municipal wastewater treatment plants across the United States. The center is managed by WIST. In addition to its use as a classroom and laboratory for students in Soil and Waste Resources at UW-Stevens Point, the facility is used for research trials, for example to determine treatment parameters for various additions to wastewater streams. To discuss how WIST and this facility can help in your research and development needs, contact either Paul Fowler, WIST executive director, or John Baldus, WIST director of laboratory services.


The Waste Education Center features bench-top laboratory space, shown at left, and a classroom.






Activated sludge system

This plant uses a biological treatment known as activated sludge. Wastewater is pumped into aeration tanks containing microorganisms, which use organic material in the wastewater as food. As the microorganisms break down the organic material, they multiply and form clumps of active masses of microbes and stable solids, called activated sludge. Air is injected continuously into the system to mix the activated sludge with the wastewater and to provide oxygen needed by the microbes. This combination of activated sludge and wastewater is called mixed liquor. The mixed liquor moves to clarifying tanks where the activated sludge settles out and clean water exits the system.

Most of the settled sludge is pumped back to the aeration basins to keep the microbe population adequate. Excess sludge may be pumped to sludge settling tanks and from there to digestors. The aeration tanks in the pilot treatment plant feature a series of baffles, so that part of a tank may be run with air and other portions of the tank run without air. Because the treatment plant is designed with two parallel systems, it is possible to run different simulations at the same time.

Chemical additions

The pilot plant includes six pumps capable of adding different chemicals to the process. For example, in a classroom simulation, a pump may add molasses to simulate wastewater organic compounds to provide additional nutrients to the microorganisms in the tanks. These pumps may be used to add specific chemicals to be tested in the treatment process.

Technical specifications

  • Two independent parallel systems may be run separately or mixed
  • Continuous aeration
  • Two aeration tanks, 2.5’x8’x12’: 1,800 gallon capacity
  • Each aeration tank equipped with baffles so that a portion of the tank may be run with air and other parts without air
  • Two clarifying tanks, 2.5’diameter by 10’ height: 350 gallon capacity
  • Wastewater flow of up to 1.5 gallons per minute
  • Activated sludge recycling at up to 1.5 gallons per minute
  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Computer (SCADA) gathers and stores information for analysis
  • Touch screen control
  • Ultraviolet disinfection system

View and print Waste Education Center brochure

The center is an excellent training facility for treatment plant operators, engineers, environmental compliance officers and others who may have a need to understand wastewater treatment processes. The waste education center may be scheduled for research trials to determine treatment parameters of various additions to wastewater streams.