The Importance of Wastewater Treatment - Why is Wastewater Contaminated?
The importance of Wastewater Treatment is often not understood. But the importance of wastewater treatment cannot be overemphasized: it removes many harmful contaminants from the environment and prevents them from being released into the atmosphere again. Wastewater, which includes sewage, industrial effluent, and domestic wastewater, is generally disposed of via the public sewage system or by way of natural means such as river runoff or septic tanks. In some developed countries, wastewater is normally sent for treatment through specially designed treatment plants (WTP) that use advanced technologies. In developing countries, however, where no wastewater treatment technologies are available, most wastewater is discharged into the natural environment without further treatment.
The purpose of wastewater treatment plants is to remove most harmful contaminants and enhance the quality of the remaining water. But untreated wastewater can contain numerous contaminants that are harmful to human health. They may contain pathogens, chemicals, microscopic cysts, and other hazardous elements that can cause a great amount of damage to the ecosystem, to humans, and to the natural resources that are found in and around water. So, the importance of wastewater treatment cannot be overemphasized: to ensure the health and environmental well-being of human beings and to preserve the earth’s ecosystems.
Wastewater can be contaminated in several ways. It can be contaminated by storm runoff, which carries stormwater runoff (flow of water over soil, resulting in contamination of the soil) and its discharge into rivers and streams; by industrial and household wastes (through sewage systems, landfills, and factories); and by animal and human wastes generated in toilets, showers, and in communal bathing areas. Some wastewater is chemically treated at a treatment plant before it is discharged into waterways. Other methods such as energy generation by burning of wastes and septic tanks may also contribute to contamination of the aquatic system.
How is wastewater handled? Before the advent of large-scale public treatment and clean water treatment technologies, wastewater was usually discharged into an existing water body with the aim of removing or reducing its foul smell, color, and texture. However, because of the excessive growth of microscopic contaminants, particularly bacteria, fecal matter, oils, and chemicals, it became necessary to first eliminate these contaminants from the wastewater. In the past, wastewater from manufacturing plants was discharged into waterways only after it had been cleaned and treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Since most cities now have wastewater re-treatment plants, this process has been extended to residential regions. The most common procedures used to treat urban wastewater are carbon adsorption for heavy metals; ion exchange and mechanical filtration for chemical contaminants; and adsorption for odorants.
There are many reasons why we need to treat urban wastewater. The primary reason is the concern for the quality of the public’s water supply. Scientific evidence indicates that most contaminants found in urban wastewater are insoluble, meaning that they are resistant to treatment. Since most treatment facilities do not effectively remove these contaminants, they tend to get recirculated back into the groundwater, affecting the groundwater quality in the region. Some of the more commonly mentioned contaminants in wastewater are chlorine, triclosan, hydrogen sulfide, pesticides, prescription drugs, and hormones.
Another important reason why it is important to treat urban wastewater is the concern for the natural environment. Oftentimes, there are substantial amounts of naturally occurring contaminants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrate-free nitrates in storm runoff and on our lakes and rivers. These pollutants can pose serious threats to the natural balance of the ecosystems. Therefore, if we want to maintain the natural balance in our ecosystems, then it is important to use water treatment technologies that can purify these pollutants before they are released into the natural environment.
The fourth most important reason why it is necessary to treat urban wastewater involves the danger posed by the pollution of our lakes and rivers. Most municipal water systems do not effectively remove small quantities of contaminants from the water that they distribute to homes and businesses. In addition, many municipal wastewater treatment plants fail to remove contaminants that have already entered the natural environment. In fact, some wastewater contains traces of potentially toxic chemicals that have been dissolved in the water over time.
In summary, we have established the importance of treating urban wastewater because the water used to feed our municipal sewage plants contains large amounts of contaminants that are harmful to the ecosystem. We also know that there are significant risks to the natural environment if the wastewater treatment methods currently in place are not improved. The Sediment Management Service is an excellent way to ensure that we are taking all the necessary precautions to treat our wastewater. Our goal is to reduce the amount of naturally occurring contaminants in our water while ensuring that it is safe for human consumption. By working with a professional sediment control firm, you can be assured that your efforts to improve the safety of the environment are moving in the right direction.