As of 2021, the global wastewater treatment services market has an estimated value of $53.0 billion.
Wastewater management is an essential part of ensuring water within the environment remains clean. Without these processes, wastewater would cause significant damage to ecosystems around the world.
For 5 important things to know about wastewater management, keep reading.
Table of Contents
1. How Is Wastewater Collected?
Wastewater systems rely primarily on gravity to transport wastewater from homes into sewers. These sewers lead to wastewater treatment plants. Stormwater drainage systems work in a similar way but collect rainwater, snowmelt, and any other water that runs into storm drains from the land.
Sanitary sewer systems and stormwater systems are separate to avoid cross-contamination. Blockages and other issues can cause problems, so keeping the process as streamlined as possible is ideal. Proper control valves modulation helps with this.
2. How Wastewater Treatment Works
Wastewater that is collected in treatment plants goes through one, two, or three stages of treatment. The number of stages used depends on the intended use of the water and how much treatment it needs.
Stage 1 – Primary Treatment
The wastewater is first stored in large sedimentation tanks which remove any settleable solids. Gravity causes heavier solids to sink and lighter solids to rise.
Chemicals can also remove more solids. Once the sediment has settled at the bottom the water moves on to the next stage. The remaining sludge may be used as liming material or for anaerobic digestion.
Stage 2 – Secondary Treatment
A membrane bioreactor contains microorganisms that consume any soluble organic matter. These microorganisms then replicate, forming solids that are more easily filtered out.
After this stage, the water is fit for environmental discharge as it won’t harm aquatic life or ecosystems once released.
Stage 3 – Tertiary Treatment
The third stage involves disinfecting the water to certain specifications. This is done to produce technical waters or to treat water that will go back into public water systems.
UV disinfection allows treatment without any chemicals. Microorganisms are destroyed, but the pH, taste, smell, and appearance of the water remain unaffected.
Chemical treatment is another option using chlorine or iodine. While it is an effective method, it requires de-chlorinating or de-ozonating afterward, so is less efficient than UV treatment.
3. Why We Treat Wastewater
Wastewater can contain various toxic elements that are harmful to humans, animals, and the ecosystem in general. Unclean water can cause diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Fish and aquatic life rely upon clean water to survive, so if wastewater is not treated it could find its way back to lakes, rivers, and oceans, causing harm to any organisms in the area.
Wastewater treatment helps to avoid this by treating water before sending it back into the natural environment.
Also known as a “fourth stage” this can minimize chemical reactivity the pH adjustment or chemical reduction.
This can involve carbon filtration to remove contaminants as the carbon absorbs excess chemicals. Sand filtration or fabric filters are also a common option for municipal wastewater treatment.
5. Types of Treatment Plants
There are four main types of wastewater treatment plants:
- Sewage – removes contaminants from sewage that comes from homes and commercial environments
- Industrial – treats wastewater that is considered an undesirable by-product from industrial environments
- Agricultural – for surface runoff water from farms that may contain chemicals from pesticides, crop residues, fertilizers, etc
- Leachate – treats fluids from landfill sites
This ensures the wastewater is treated properly.
The Importance of Wastewater Management
Wastewater management and treatment are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This keeps water supplies pure enough for aquatic life and for other uses.
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