Can the effluent of secondary treatment of pulp and paper plant be used for irrigation?


A free chlorine plant of pulp and paper will be installed near Orinoco River in Venezuela and the effluent has to be reused because it will not be discharged to the river. The expected concentration of BOD will be low but the COD will be around 800 mg/L and the real color will be dark too. The secondary treatment will be an activated sludge process selector type.

Can this water be used for irrigation of fields? What are the risks?



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Lenin Herrera
Lars, thanks your the link is very usefull.
Lenin Herrera
Amir Dakkak
Very Interesting idea and a smart one. However, for that to happen make sure the wastewater treatment plant has a high COD capacity. Otherwise it should be fine.
nicholas lumosi
Hi, to my personal opinion i believe tha pulp waste water can be utilised in irrigation farm after determining oll the water indicators paramers meet international standard of disposal and environmental protection act. Here you need to involve an expert to determine soil PH, to came up with right recommendation before you came up with project.
Hong Ye
it is very difficult to reuse PP treated wastewater for several factors
andy wu
If the quality of water is in good condition others are not able to be used for GAP food growing
Allan Toh
While I am for the reuse of waters as this resource is precious however, I am surprised that these waters would be allowed to be use for irrigation.

COD of 800mg/l is high and the lack of information whether other parameters are effectively removed. The waters have to be further treated, tested and certified okay for discharge or reuse. Not a speculative person but I sensed the want to use as irrigation waters so to bypass discharge into waterways which might be monitored
Iouri Vaisman
Hi Lenin (I like you name by the way!) The process to determine whether you can or can not use the effluent should be based on the risks assessment matrix where you look at the risks from three angles: (1) risks with quality of incoming raw water; (2) risks associated with treatment process, and (3) risks associated with the end use of effluent (irrigation of the wood plantation?). This risks assessment should inform the controls required at all three stages. To speculate on the treatment process without this risks assessment would be more "gambling" than engineering... Activated sludge treatment is generally a good process for municipal sewage treatment, not sure it is best suited for your application. Good luck with your project! Regards, Iouri
Shrikant Daji LIMAYE
Let the suspended matter in this waste water settle down. Then use sprinkler irrigation on a tiny experimental plot. Select a variety of crops to see their tolerance. You should have mentioned the total volume of effluent per day; the rainfall in the area and the depth of water table below the ground level.
Zheng YANG
Firstly, I want to ask is there any water reused standard in Venezuela? If yes, you should obey the standard. If no, we could discuss this issue in SECOUNDLY.
Secoundly, irrigation water quality is based on several factors, such as COD, BOD, pH, heavy metals and so on. So only one or two characteristic (COD and BOD) could not reflect the real quality of this treated water.
Meanwhile, the effluent COD concentration is around 800mg/L, and the color is dark, in my experience, this effluent can`t be used for irrigation, because in my country (China), this effluent can`t be considered as TREATED WATER. The contamination concentration is too high! Further treatment is required, then you could consider the reuse matter.
Goksel VATAN
If it is untreated, the effluent from pulp and paper industry cannot be used for irrigation. But if chemical+biological treatment plant operates for primary treatment and then membrane bioreactors (MBR) operates for reduction for organic substances, the effluent of plants can use for irrigation. We serve best water monitoring station for influent and effluent water quality parameters. In your monitor, You can show 80 parameter results and the system is compatible for river basin management system. Please visit . For all detailed information about treatment process design and Water Management contents;
William Turner
The authority on this question is Dr. Sam Kao. Sam designed and supervised construction of hundreds and hundreds of acres of drip irrigation south of Holbrook, Arizona for Stone Paper? using effluent from a very large paper mill.
Water Network Research
Do you have contact info for him, Google search does not find him, also not clear on linked in who you are referring to.
Nikolay Voutchkov
If it is untreated, the effluent from pulp and paper industry cannot be used for irrigation of edible fruits or crops because of its heavy organic pollution. However, it could be used for irrigation of crops which are not used for human consumption.
lyseconcept jean Marius
French english
Bien sur que non et ce pour plusieurs raisons
La concentration de pollution de chlore est trop importante.
En plus à quoi va servir l'activation de boue activée?
la boue est un élément non assimilable par la nature. Boue elle est, boue elle reste. Faire circuler de l'air dans ce milieu boueux n'aura aucune incidence sur son état.
L'activation de la boue diminue la propention de celle ci à putréfier sous l'effet d'une forte méthanisation. En sortie du traitement cette boue sera identique à son entrée.

Of course that not and this for several reasons
The concentration of chlorine pollution is too important.
In more to what will be used activation as activated sludge?
mud is a nonassimilable element by nature. Mud it is, mud it remains. To make circulate air in this muddy medium will not affect any its state.
The activation of mud decreases the propention of that Ci to be putrefied under the effect of a strong methanisation. At exit of the treatment this mud will be identical to its entry.
F H Mughal
The treated municipal wastewater should not contain heavy metals. If the treated municipal wastewater meets the following guidelines, you can use treated wastewater, provided you do not use in spray form, and children are not immediately allowed in, say, park, where treated wastewater is used:

Maximum levels
Chloride, mg/l 350
Sodium, mg/l 230
Hardness, mg/l 80 CaCO3
TDS, mg/l 2,000
EC*, dS/m 3
SAR,** me/l 15
TDS, mg/l 2,000
Boron, mg/l 0.5
pH 6.5-8.5
solids, mg/l <100 (for drip irrigation system)
Fecal coliforms, 1,000 (for crops eaten uncooked)
geometric mean,
no/100 ml
Intestinal nematodes, 1 (for crops eaten uncooked)
arithmetic mean,
no. of eggs/liter (Ascaris and Trichuris species; and hookworms)

*EC = electrical conductivity at 25oC; dS/m = deciSiemens/meter
1 dS/m = 1 millimmho/centimeter (mmho/cm) = 1,000 uS/cm
uS/cm = microSiemens/centimeter
**SAR = sodium adsorption ratio; me/l = milliequivalent/liter
me/l = mg/l divided by equivalent weight

You will find the following publications useful:

1. Ayers, R.S. and Westcot, D.W. (1994), Water Quality for Agriculture, FAO
2. Pescod, M.B. (1992), Wastewater Treatment and Use in Agriculture, FAO
3. Pescod, M.B. (1989), Health Guidelines for the Use of Wastewater in
Agriculture and Aquaculture, WHO
4. Pettygrove, G.S. and Asano, T. - eds. (1985), Irrigation with Reclaimed Municipal
Wastewater - A Guidance Manual
5. Tyrrel, S.F. (1999), The Microbiological Quality of Water Used for
Irrigation, Irrigation News 27, 39-42
6. Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Australia and
New Zealand, 2000
7. Fewtrell, L. and Bartram, J. - eds. (2001), Water Quality - Guidelines,
Standards and Health: Assessment of Risk and Risk Management for
Water-Related Infectious Diseases WHO
8. Water Quality & Treatment, American Water Works Association, 1999

F H Mughal
Karachi, Pakistan
Ademar Cesar Ferreira
I wouldn´t recommend to use this treated wastewater in irrigation. Normally effluents of this type of industry has presence of AOX and other contaminants that can accumulate in the soil and be harmful. To use in irrigation it has to have a polishing treatment and it has to be selected soil and crops where this water will be applied.
Claudia Viegas
Hello, I have researched Brazilian Laws on COD, and for pulp and mill it is allow up to 300 mg/l regarding this parameter. This legislation comes from Parana State as proposal, but I guess the national records are not so different ( I conclude that it is risky to allow 800 mg/l. Also, you should look at other compounds employed in production process that can improve COD and analyse them together. Best regards.
Satendra Pal Singh
Dear lenin Herrera,
Actually secondary treatment comes in the biological treatment. if we are using MBR system in the secondary effluent treatment step after that we are using filtration sytem then we can re use for irrigation purpose.
Dr. A.K. Shyam
I agree that the N P K and sodium content will be high. It could therefore be possibly tried initially on barren soils to test the potential rise in their concentration. This will then throw a clear idea of its impact in zones with sufficient supply of life supportive nutrients. Corrective measures could then facilitate usage with a warning. Alkaline soils normally do not leach heavy metals.
&#039;NANDI&#039;Abhay Shankar Tiwari
After confirming the presence of heavy metal and other toxic substances bellow admissible level it can be reused for irrigation purposes.
The Wastewater from paper mill has to be treated through several levels of treatment trains like primary, secondary and tertiary treatments to adhere to the permissible level and environmental norms towards treated waste water discharge suiting to the statutory requirements.
The pH should be maintained to the admissible level. The concentration of N, P, K and Na to be checked. Heavy metals should be tested for its concentration. The treated waste water should be applied through sprinkler system. The crop should be selected based on the tolerance level and water absorption capacity towards irrigation by treated waste water. The depth of water table should be given due concern as the treated wastewater flow should not contaminate the ground water sources. Also, existing surface water sources should be given due diligence. The rainfall and the amount of discharge of treated waste water also matters much in consideration of usage of treated waste water from paper and pulp industries.

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