Clean-Flo International LLC (Clean-Flo) has been in business since 1970, starting out focused on aeration and circulation technology to manage dissolved oxygen levels in ponds and lakes. Clean-Flo is an LLC registered in the State of PA. In the last decade, Clean-Flo has pioneered research, development, and investment that joins conventional applied engineering with Systems Theory and life sciences. It has transformed into a Biotechnology company providing integrated environmentally sound solutions to water quality management.
Clean-Flo’s primary business is the development and delivery of Biotechnology Solutions to water quality management throughout the water cycle. Generally speaking, we design and deliver solutions to water quality management for:
- Basic sanitation
- Wastewater treatment (municipal and livestock farming operations (cattle, dairy, piggery, etc.)
- Eutrophic water bodies
- Reservoirs (for potable water production)
- Aquaculture (to optimize fish health, growth rates, size, and number
More specifically, we deliver solutions to the management of diverse water quality parameters in a wide variety of conditions, environments, and applications including
- Anaerobic digestion
- Aerobic wastewater treatment processes include activated sludge, BNR, trickling biofilters, oxidation ponds, etc.
- Chemical and biochemical parameters such as BOD, COD, TKN, TN, TP, TSS, TDS, DO, etc.
- Microbiological parameters such as coliforms, fecal coliforms, and E. Coli.
- Nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous)
- Organic sediment digestion
- Invasive aquatic weeds
- Cyanobacteria and compliance with microcystin standards in potable water production
- Fish health
- Metals (Iron, Manganese, etc.)
- Organoleptic compounds (geosmins, MIB, hydrogen sulfide, etc.)
- Reduction in quantities of treatment chemicals used in potable water purification
- Reduction in carcinogenic TTHMs produced by treatment chemicals in potable water production
- Dissolved Oxygen
- Digestion of organic sediments
- Control of pathogens and parasitic agents (protozoa etc.)
Our clients and customers include government organizations at all levels, (municipal, state or province, and national), water utilities, home owners’ associations, livestock farmers, aquaculture operations, property developers, and more both in the USA and internationally.
IN-LAKE PHOSPHORUS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
We have extensive experience with a variety of phosphorous management approaches in both wastewater and open water environments.
In open water environments, we have a thorough understanding of conventional approaches to phosphorous management which generally entail
- Forced circulation
- Chemical precipitation.
These approaches are limited to physical interventions based on the physics of pure engineering and inorganic chemistry.
We are very familiar with the limitations, risks, and unintended consequences associated with these approaches. This is what led us to incorporate a more holistic approach to water quality management based on the integration of Systems Theory and Biotechnology with conventional approaches to overcome these limitations and risks and avoid the unintended consequences.
Our Biotechnology Solutions are unique in incorporating nutrient cycle management into managing Phosphorus. This ensures that Phosphorus is directed into the Nutrient Cycle where it is assimilated into the food chain and thus permanently removed from the water. In this way, the internal loading of phosphorus is measurably reduced.
Conventional approaches to Phosphorous management based on aeration forced circulation and chemical precipitation are predicated purely on managing the stoichiometric balance of Phosphorus chemistry in aerobic and anaerobic environments. Therefore, the aim and the effect are to sequester Phosphorus by precipitating it in the sediment.
This creates a sediment stockpile of Phosphorus, held in sequestration only by the stoichiometric dynamics of the prevailing benthic redox potential at the water/sediment interface. This sediment stockpile of Phosphorus continually increases with Phosphorus inflows the longer this mitigation by precipitation regime operates so that in reality internal total phosphorus load increases over time with this approach.
This naturally raises the risk profile and possibility of unintended consequences in the event that the stoichiometric balance is not maintained as this will cause a release of Phosphorus from the sediment stockpile into the water column, potentially fueling algae and cyanobacteria blooms.
The risk profile is potentially further raised by the fact that cyanobacteria are inherently more opportunistic and adaptive than algae, so they are better placed to take advantage of any transient shifts in the stoichiometric balance.
Mitigating this risk means ensuring the absolute consistency of the stoichiometry through space and time throughout the water body. Most aeration and circulation systems are able to maintain dissolved oxygen levels in delineated localized areas such as abstraction points for water purification or hydroelectric generation but are unable to maintain this status in a scalable manner across the whole area and depth of water bodies. This creates zones at risk of failure to “suppress the release of legacy phosphorus from the sediments” which provides opportunities for cyanobacteria to exploit such deficiencies.
Our approach has been to look beyond engineering and inorganic chemistry and through Systems Theory, biochemistry understands a water body as a biotic system or biome. Under this paradigm, we are able to understand and articulate the dynamics of the interplay between the Water Cycle and the Nutrient Cycle. This makes it clear that the solution to managing the unavoidable build-up of in-lake total Phosphorus created by conventional stoichiometric based interventions is to invoke the Nutrient Cycle to take up Phosphorus by directing it into the food chain rather than into the production of biomass in the form of cyanobacteria, algae, and aquatic weeds.
This is achieved via two kinds of intervention that can be broadly characterized as bio-augmentation:
- Enzymatic digestion of organic sediment to produce food substrate that will be taken up into the food chain
- Nutrient supplementation to support the establishment of organisms that constitute the foundation of a robust biodiverse productive food chain in order that they might outcompete cyanobacteria, algae, and aquatic weeds.
Our biotechnology innovation has arguably been ahead of technology’s ability to quantify its effectiveness.
Austin Lake in Michigan is over 1,100 acres. In a study of the improvements gained using our technology it was established that
- a mean reduction of 11.6 inches of sediment was achieved
- DO measure with a probe at a depth of 18 inches into the sediment was shown to have risen from 0.33mg/l to 6.5mg/l. This means that at a depth of 18 inches into the sediment an aerobic condition prevails.
Other studies showed that the total sediment Phosphorus levels decreased over time with our remediation protocol. By making conservative estimates of the total amount of sediment eliminated and multiplying this by the concentration of Phosphorus in the sediment it was apparent that many tons of Phosphorus was being removed from the lake, thus reducing the total lake Phosphorus load.
What was lacking was the ability to accurately measure the total volume of sediment digested and eliminated from a water body.
Such technology now exists. Using the software, when conducting a bathymetric survey of a lake, it is now possible to accurately calculate the total volume of water in the water body. By conducting such an analysis and calculation before and after implementing our solution it is possible to calculate the increase in water volume that is achieved by the elimination of sediment.
Furthermore, when the Phosphorus concentration per kg is known, it is possible to calculate the amount of Phosphorus eliminated from the total lake Phosphorus load.
To provide some context, it is worth noting at this point that a study entitled “Determination of sediment phosphorus concentrations in St. Albans Bay, Lake Champlain: Assessment of internal loading and seasonal variations of phosphorus sediment-water column cycling” conducted by Greg Druschel, Department of the Geology University of Vermont estimated that the top 4cm (1.6 inches) of sediment in St Alban’s Bay contained 500 tons of Phosphorus and the top 10cm (4 inches) of sediment contained 1,200 tons of Phosphorus. If we assume that the area of St Alban’s Bay is 2,000 acres, then this equates to 1.8 tons of Phosphorus load per acre-foot.
At Lake Peekskill in Putnam Valley, NY bathymetric survey determined that the implementation of our technology achieved a reduction in total sediment volume of just over 30 acre-feet. Based on the average sediment concentration of Phosphorus in the sediment in Lake Peekskill this equated to approximately 83,600lbs. or 41.8 tons of Phosphorus that were eliminated.
This was achieved by an average reduction of 6 inches of sediment over the initial 4 month period of application of our in lake Phosphorus load reduction program. By extrapolation, this would equate to a reduction of 1,800 tons of in lake Phosphorus load in St Alban’s Bay, Lake Champlain VT.
IN-LAKE PHOSPHORUS MANAGEMENT APPROACHES
There is an inherent contradiction in the RFP as it states that it seeks to
“suppress the release of legacy phosphorus from the sediments”
“prevent cyanobacteria blooms on Lake Carmi by reducing internal loading of phosphorus”
It only seeks to do the latter “during summer stratification”.
If the objective is to “suppress the release of legacy phosphorus from the sediments” then the implicit assumptions behind this are that the total internal Phosphorus load will be allowed to increase with annual inflows, and these increases in the internal loading of Phosphorus will be sequestered in the sediment.
If the objective is to reduce the internal loading of phosphorus to prevent cyanobacteria blooms, then this strategy is a limited, symptomatic, ephemeral approach to a chronic systemic problem that is worsening over time.
Our approach is to transcend such short-term, limited, symptomatic interventions and implement a holistic systemic solution to eutrophication to Lake Carmi that addresses root causes and delivers a sustainable comprehensive water quality management solution.
Our approach would be the same as that adopted for numerous successful projects to reverse eutrophication in lakes, dams, and reservoirs globally. Ours is a more systemic and comprehensive approach that would
- Achieve destratification of the water column
- Re-oxygenate 100% of the water in the lake
- Digest organic sediments in order to reduce internal lake loading of Phosphorus by directing it into the Nutrient Cycle in order to develop a robust biodiverse food chain. This will manifest as improved fish numbers, health, and size.
- Control algae and cyanobacteria blooms
- Control invasive aquatic weeds