What Is Wastewater Treatment?

by:Jinwantong     2020-08-10
We drink it, wash with it, flush it: water. It is one of our greatest natural resources, and one sometimes taken for granted. We water our yards and shower, but do we ever think of what happens to the water after we are finished with it? Does wastewater goes to waste? Here is the story of wastewater, from your drain to your local water treatment plant.
Wastewater treatment is a means of processing water from household and industrial use to make it safe to reintroduce into the ecosystem. From your drainpipes it it transported through sewage systems to the water treatment plant where it undergoes a serious of processes before it is recycled or disposed of. In a combined sewage system it can also include storm water runoff. A different system is needed because storm runoff may contain large materials which can damage the pipes. After the water arrives at the plant it undergoes a three-part process known as the primary, secondary, and tertiary phases.
The primary phase is where the water is left to sit in tanks until the contents can settle, similar to soup when it is left to cool. The solid matter sinks to the bottom and the fat rises. These materials are then removed and the water that is left moves on to the next phase of treatment. Some of the solid waste, which is now called sludge, is either chemically decontaminated for disposal or it can be further treated and recycled in to fertilizer, as New York has done. This also saves on disposal and holding space.
The second stage of treatment involves releasing micro-organisms into the remaining water to eat any particles that may have dissolved or were to small to remove on the first phase. The micro-organisms are then removed and the water moves on to the final stage.
This third and final phase involves treating the water chemically to remove any excess nutrients or other chemicals and minerals which may be harmful to the environment. It can then be safely reintroduced into the ecosystem or recycled for use in agricultural or municipal irrigation.
Many countries are now trying to find new technologies and processes to further treat water so that it can be more efficiently recycled and reused. India has developed a technology called soil biotechnology, which achieves nearly 100% reusable water. Israel's agricultural irrigation uses nearly 50% recycled wastewater. There is a technology that is in existence which can treat it enough to be safely recycled for domestic use and consumption.
As better ways of treating wastewater are found, conservation of other resources such as land and energy also occur, as less of both are needed. It is hoped that through time and advancing technology, more effective and efficient means of treatment and recycling can be found to help conserve this resource. We only have one earth, and while you do your part in conservation on your end, we will keep advancing to make sure that we continue to do ours.

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