Services Offered Collection of Samples Shipment of Samples Essential Information Turnaround Time
Prices and Billing Additional Services Contact Information Upcoming Presentations Publications
A Picture of Dr. Richard Dr.Michael Richard is a world authority on wastewater treatment microbiology and he provides microbiological analysis and filament identification for bulking, foaming and other treatment problems for activated sludge systems, lagoons, filters or any biological treatment process. This information is used in troubleshooting, problem diagnosis and suggestion of remedial actions for wastewater treatment problems. Dr. Richard has been providing this analysis since 1980 and has analyzed more than 20,000 sludges for more than 5,000 clients. He is the co-author of the definitive Manual on activated sludge microbiology problems and has received numerous national and international awards for research, consulting and training.

Services Offered

Microscopic examination of wastewater sludges is invaluable in determining the health of the treatment system and in evaluating treatment problems that may be occurring. For activated sludge, the abundance and identity of filaments is essential as sludge bulking and foaming are common operational problems. Twenty-four different filaments commonly occur, each with a different cause and control approach. These have six basic causes:

  1. low oxygen concentration
  2. low F/M conditions
  3. septicity
  4. low nutrients
  5. high grease and oil
  6. low pH
The microscopic examination identifies the filament(s) and other indicator organisms present and this information is then used to give the suggested causes for the filaments and suggestions for their control. For lagoons, additional testing for other microorganisms, especially algae, is done.

All types of biological wastewater treatment systems can be evaluated by the microscopic examination for diagnosis of problems that may occur. These include activated sludge, aerated sludge basins, lagoons, trickling filters, RBCs, wetlands and aerobic and anaerobic digester systems (and anything else).

Two types of analyses are offered. The standard analysis is the Microscopic Examination. This test evaluates the health of the biomass, presence and abundance of higher life forms, abundance and identity of filaments and other indicator organisms, assessment of nutrient status by staining, and other biological problems that might be occurring. Results are given in a short, written report along with recommendations to correct the problems found.

The report is accompanied by a set of digital photomicrographs on CD that illustrate and document the findings. Dr. Richard's photomicrographs are of the highest quality and have been used to illustrate books and articles worldwide.

The second test offered is chemical polysaccharide testing of the sludge. This is the best method to determine whether nutrients are present in sufficient amounts for good treatment. Sludges developed at low nutrient concentration (low N and/or P) build up polysaccharide to high amounts. Normal activated sludge contains 10-20% polysaccharide dry weight; nutrient deficient sludges contain higher amounts than this, to >90%. The sludge polysaccharide content is measured using the anthrone test. This is an acid digestion of the sludge followed by colorimetric determination of the sugars released. 100 mls of sample are needed for this test. This testing is done once per week, currently on Wednesdays (subject to change). Try to get the sample to us by Wednesday AM for prompt analysis. Note that this test is needed for industrial wastewater systems but generally is not needed for municipal wastewater systems unless significant industrial wastewater is treated.

Collection and Shipment of Samples

For activated sludge and most other systems, a 100 ml MLSS sample is needed. This should be placed in a plastic, screw-capped bottle filled no more than ½ full (for air) and the lid taped. This should be collected from the end of the aeration process (generally the feed to the final clarifier(s)). Place the bottle in a plastic baggie and then in a shipping box with absorbent paper wrapping and ship overnight for morning delivery. No ice or ice chest is needed. Note that ice chests will not be returned due to the cost of return shipping.

If any foam is present on the aeration basin or final clarifier, then a separate 100 ml sample of the foam should also be sent. Be sure to collect fresh foam from the center of the basin, not from around the edges. Note that a MLSS and foam pair count as one sample for billing.

For systems with multiple treatment basins or trains, a separate sample should be sent from each basin or train. Combining samples may compromise the findings as these will be reported as an average for the composite, which may not correctly diagnose problems.

For lagoons, a 500 ml sample is needed from each cell in series, to evaluate changes in the microbiology through the system. Samples should be collected from the end of each cell, preferably from a point of moving water at a transfer structure. Avoid sampling that includes bottom sludge.

Please ship by an overnight delivery service AM delivery to:

Michael Richard
2708 Redwing Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526-2850

Please DO NOT require a signature for delivery as sometimes no one is available to sign for the package and this may cause a significant delay in getting the sample

Essential Information

Please be sure to include with the sample your name and return shipping address. Also include your phone and FAX numbers and an email address. Please state whether you prefer to receive the preliminary report by FAX or by email and any distribution list for other recipients. A short description of the problem is helpful. Please include, with the sample, a purchase order or instructions for billing. (Also see information regarding billing below.)

Turnaround Time

A preliminary reply by FAX or email is sent when the results are available, followed by mailing of the results and photos. Due to the large number of samples being received at this time, the turn-around time can be a week or more for the report and longer for the photos on CD. The anthrone test for polysaccharide is done once per week. Note that Dr. Richard travels about one week per month, and samples received while he is away will be properly stored and analyzed upon his return. You can email or call to get Dr. Richard's availability, or simply send the samples and these will be properly stored with the analyses done as soon as possible.

Prices and Billing

The 2019 cost is $400 per sample for the microscopic examination and $250 per sample for the polysaccharide test. Please call or email for details. All prices are in US Dollars.

Please include a PO or billing instructions and billing address with the sample(s). Payment terms are NET 30 days from date of invoice. Credit cards can be accepted through Paypal. You don't need to have a Paypal Account and anyone can use this service. I will send the Paypal payment request to your email address and you simply enter your credit card information and press "send". Very easy and secure. Payment using Paypal is NET 5 days, as the fee is taken out of what I receive. Inquire about details.

Additional Services

Additional services offered include training classes on microscopic sludge evaluation and filament identification. Note that training classes need to be planned well in advance.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact us at:

Phone: 970/223-6571
FAX: 970/223-6571

Upcoming Courses and Presentations

Dr. Richard conducts filament identification courses and seminars widely around the country several times per year. Course announcements will be given here when available.

No courses were found. If you have received information on a course, please contacts us for more details.

New Publications

Several of Dr. Richard's publications may be of interest to you. New are:

Manual on the Causes and Control of Activated Sludge Bulking, Foaming and Other Solids Separation Problems,
3rd Ed., 2003, D. Jenkins, M. Richard and G. Daigger.
Order through:

Activated Sludge Microbiology Poster and Troubleshooting Guide, M. Richard and R. Marshall.
Click here for more information
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