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Denim washing waste water

A municipal waste water treatment plant in a small town has a problem with
denim washing waste water from a local industry. The industry washes blue
jeans (for that "pre-washed" look) and the indigo dye in the waste water
seems to be the problem.

The treatment plant capacity is 1,000,000 gal per day. They presently
processes 1/2 million galons per day, 80,000 of which comes from the denim
washing industry. The denim wastewater is in the neighborhood of 400 BoD 5,
and about 1700 CoD. The treatment plant is experiencing a number of
overloading characteristics.  Is there a way for this treatment plant to
effectively deal with this waste water and stay within normal operating
parameters. They use an activated sludge process.

When the industry stops washing denim, the problem stops. The industry has
no pretreatment facility. The municipal waste water treatment  plant  would
like to find a solution other than shutting down the industry which employs
a lot of people in an area where jobs are hard to find. Is there a way to
handle this waste other than requiring a pretreatment facility at the

Albert Tieche
UT Center for Industrial Services