Microscopic Analysis of Activated Sludge

Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Aqua Enviro, Wakefield

Microscopy Examination training book cover

NB:  This course cannot be held virtually, so will be rescheduled when covid-19 restrictions are relaxed. 

Please register your interest by emailing

Times:   9:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Fee:       £395 (includes course book)

Course Overview

Very few activated sludge plants have been completely free from foaming and bulking problems at some time and other plants suffer these problems on a routine basis. In a similar way poor solids removal, inefficient BOD removal, odour problems, inhibition and toxicity can all occur on a seemingly random basis. Routine sampling and chemical analysis from this is expensive, demanding and its interpretation is not always clear. By contrast microscopic examination of the microbial consortium in the treatment plant is simple, inexpensive and provides extensive information as to the likely causes of plant problems. The results can also be used to optimise the performance of the plant to ensure that effluent is as good as the plant is able to produce and that energy costs and sludge production are at a minimum.

Course Aim

To understand the components of activated sludge, undertake microscopic analysis and options to manage filamentous bulking and/or foaming problems.

Learning is delivered through a combination of laboratory practical sessions and lectures.

Course Programme

  • The Protozoa What are they? What conditions do they like/dislike? What they tell us about the process conditions. Which protozoa are healthy for the plant
  • Lab session Using the microscope. Floc structure, Protozoa identification, Filament numbers
  • Interpreting the results of microscopic examination Health of the plant, changes that may have occurred in the influent, process conditions (F/M, sludge age), problems with the process (low dissolved oxygen, under/overloading, Nutrient deficiency, toxicity)
  • Filaments Identification, characteristics on wet mounts, cell size, shape, filament width, length, branching etc., Staining, Gram, Neisser, sulphur.
  • Lab session Methods for identifying species, filament characteristics on wet mounts, identification charts, stained filament characteristics, Gram and Neisser Staining
  • Control strategies for filamentous bacteria Chemical and physical strategies, chlorination, PAC, spray jetting, design considerations to eliminate filaments, selectors, floc loading, plug flow reactors

Trainer Profiles

Charlotte Elliott  Photo of Charlotte Elliot

Laboratory Manager

Charlotte leads Aqua Enviro’s laboratory team and heads up our internal training programme for activated sludge.  She is responsible for ensuring that microscopy reports are up to standard and issuing to clients.


Matthew Smyth  BSc, MRes, MBA, MCIWEM CSci CWEM  Photo of Matthew Smyth

Technical Director

Matt has been in wastewater and sludge for twenty years and works with water companies, industry and waste producers to develop and implement solutions.  He has worked with hundreds of sites to improve wastewater treatment, manage filamentous foaming and bulking and reduce operating costs.  He has viewed and reported upon thousands of microscopy samples.

Register your interest now:


The team at Aqua Enviro understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and we are actively monitoring developments while we continue to plan for the training. In the unfortunate event that we need to postpone, all bookings will automatically be transferred to the new date (or a refund offered if that person is no longer able to attend). We advise holding back on making travel arrangements until nearer the event date as reimbursement for this expense will not be possible. Please click here for further details.

Please note that cancellations are accepted up to 7 days prior to the training event and there is no refund for non-attendance. 


NB:  This course cannot be held virtually, so will be rescheduled when covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.  Please register your interest by emailing