Introduction to Wastewater, Treatment & Handling Sludges


2-day course

CPD Credit: 13 hours, C1

Course Aim

This course aims to provide an overview of all aspects of characterizing, treating and optimising wastewater and sludge treatment plants. The course will focus on different technologies, their advantages, disadvantages and appropriateness for achieving consent standards, energy generation and recycling targets.

Course Overview

This course will provide attendees with an understanding of the different stages of treatment in a wastewater and anaerobic digestion plant. It will cover examples in domestic and industrial applications (e.g., food and beverage) and expected performance based upon real-world data. Key performance indicators along with common operational challenges and solutions are covered, along with numerous proprietary technologies.

Learning is delivered through a combination of lectures, individual and group worked examples.

Course Objectives

After the course, the participants' delegates should be able to:

  • Explain the tests used to define wastewater characteristics (BOD, COD, solids, phosphorus, nitrogen) and what different values mean.
  • Map the layout of a typical treatment plant and the importance of return liquors upon flows and loads.
  • Understand the basic principles of aerobic and anaerobic wastewater treatment and metrics used to measure performance.
  • Identify the differences and commonalities between proprietary technologies for wastewater, AD, sludge and liquor treatment.

Course Programme

Day 1 – Wastewater & wastewater treatment:

What is it? Tests used to characterise and quantify wastewater. Differences between domestic and industrial wastewaters.

Consent limits and future drivers for investment

Flow and load – terminology (e.g. population equivalence, dry weather flow), how to undertake a flow and composition study, relationships in the data and what they mean.

The wastewater treatment works:
Part 1 – preliminary & primary treatment – (Screens, grit removal, primary sedimentation)
Part 2 – Secondary biological treatment – (Activated sludge, SBR, MBR, MBBR, trickling filters)
Part 3 – Tertiary treatment (solids and phosphorus removal, disinfection)

Day 2 – Handling Sludges: 

Different types of sludge produced (SAS, primary, food waste, industrial, hummus, imports)

Understanding what happens to sludges when they are processed (storage, thickening, dewatering, anaerobic digestion)

Liquor treatment processes – removing nitrogen, BOD and phosphorus

The opportunity to recover nitrogen and phosphorus

Who Should Attend?

This introductory course is aimed at those people with an interest in or new to wastewater and sludge. It is suitable for those working on domestic or industrial wastewater treatment plants. The course will focus on the principles of treatment, operation and control and also covers a wide range of technologies in the marketplace.

Trainer’s Profile

Matthew SmythBSc, MRes, MBA, MCIWEM CSci CWEM

Technical Director, Aqua Enviro

Matt has been in wastewater and sludge for twenty years and works with water companies, industry and waste producers to develop and implement solutions. In the late 1990’s he began his career working on pilot and full-scale Sequencing Batch Reactors, developing, then commissioning carbonaceous and nitrification control strategies, that have been widely adopted in plants in the UK and Ireland. He has subsequently worked closely with many anaerobic and advanced anaerobic digestion facilities treating wastewater and food waste materials, dewatering the digestate and handling the liquors produced. He presents and publishes regularly at industry-recognised conferences including Aqua Enviro’s European Biosolids & Organics and European Wastewater Management Conferences. He is a member of the CIWEM Wastewater Management Panel and the ADBA Training, Safety & Environment Working Group. Matt has delivered over 2000 training days on these topics (1 training day is when 1 person attends 1 course for 1 day).


  • Diarmuid Holland, Veolia Energy: “Instructor very knowledgeable on the content of the course”
  • Janet McKennedy, TU Dublin: “Really good and comprehensive.”
  • Aidan Ware, RPS Group: “Very well delivered material and simplified what is a very technical subject great to get a basic understanding. Excellent delivery”
  • Peter Armstrong, Limerick Institute of Technology: “Very informative.... the speaker had vast industry experience which added greatly to the information that he talked about. Very informative and very well delivered”
  • “As someone that has not worked in WWT, it is a very good introductory course.”


Engineers Ireland supports the Sustainable Development Goals. This event contributes to Engineers Ireland's Sustainability Framework.

Please contact the Team for further information on scheduled course dates and In-Company options. You can reach us by phone: 01 665 1305 or email