treatment is something we don't think of much. We use showers, toilets and sinks several times a day, but seldom is thought given to where the water goes after it is used, and what is done with the water. Here's a look at wastewater treatment
plants and how they're helping keep our planet healthy while providing for some basic needs.
Where It Goes
When water is used, it drains down the toilet or into the drain of the tub or sink and runs through many drains and pipes until it reaches the sewers. These systems are responsible for carrying the wastewater away from our homes and delivering it to wastewater treatment plants.
What It Is?
Water is usually separated into two categories. The first type of water, known as blackwater, is water from toilets that contains fecal matter or urine. The matter in this water must be decomposed. The second type of water, known as greywater, comes from washing processes that require water, such as the shower, sink and washing machine. After treatment, greywater can sometimes be reused for flushing toilets or watering plants.
What Happens To It?
Wastewater will generally go through three processes at a treatment plant. the first is called the primary treatment. During this time, wastewater is held in a quiescent basin and is allowed to separate. The solids gradually drift to the bottom, while oils and greases float to the top. These separated elements are then removed, and the water is moved to the second process.
In the next process, known as secondary treatment, biological matter that has either dissolved into or is being suspended in the water is removed. This is usually done using water-borne micro-organisms that are kept in a controlled habitat. Sometimes, a separation process is again required to remove these micro-organisms before the third and final process.
In the last process, known as tertiary treatment, water is prepared for reentry into earth's water systems. This may be done by disinfecting the water either chemically or physically. After this step, the water is usually discharged into a stream or river, but can be used for other purposes, such as irrigation for a golf course or agricultural land. In some cases, water that is clean enough may be reintroduced for groundwater recharge.
Of course, there are many, many steps involved in each treatment step in order to properly treat water for reintroduction into the system. Wastewater treatment plants are an essential part of our water systems, and without them we would be faced with possible water contamination that could be harmful or even fatal to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Wastewater treatment plants help us help the earth!
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