Have you ever wondered What is wastewater? Why is it an environmental concern? and what happens to the water that goes down your drain after you wash your hands or take a shower? That water, known as wastewater, can have a significant impact on the environment if not treated properly.
Wastewater is a byproduct of human activity and contains a mixture of contaminants, including chemicals, organic matter, and bacteria. If not treated appropriately, it can pollute waterways and harm aquatic life, as well as pose health risks to humans.
As the world’s population continues to grow, the amount of wastewater produced also increases. It is essential to understand the importance of proper wastewater treatment and management to protect our environment and ensure the health and safety of our communities. In this article, we will explore what wastewater is, why it is an environmental concern, and what we can do to address this issue.
What is the Environmental Impact of Wastewater?
The environmental impact of wastewater is often overlooked or undervalued. Our modern society largely views wastewater disposal and treatment as an expected and necessary convenience, but this was not always the case. In Colorado, and even elsewhere in the United States, there were once communities that lacked proper comprehensive waste treatment infrastructure for decades or even centuries. Without it, untreated effluent could make its way into rivers, streams, lakes and other natural bodies of water, polluting them with E. coli bacteria and other nasty contaminants that threatened both animal and human health. In addition, fertilizer byproducts from all the raw sewage discharged haphazardly could wreak havoc on aquatic life due to over-nutrification from nitrogen runoff.
Fortunately with better access to investment capital dedicated to sewage treatment facilities as well as ongoing public education programs about the importance of water conservation, much progress has been made in reducing these harmful effects of wastewater in our watersheds today. Many cities now employ tertiary treatments that can effectively remove up to 99% of harmful pollutants before releasing treated wastewater back into local rivers and streams. Well-maintained wastewater systems are also key for limiting ocean pollution which affects marine habitats throughout the entire planet.
What Is the Problem with Wastewater?
The world’s history of wastewater management is a long and storied one. From the use of primitive sanitation systems in early human settlements, and the flowing of untreated waste directly into nearby rivers, to the modern infrastructure and regulation that ensure proper disposal, it’s clear that great strides have been taken to minimize health risks posed by wastewater. Unfortunately, however, humans still contribute to an immense amount of water pollution around the world due to antiquated methods of disposal or simply a lack of awareness.
Wastewater can contain large quantities of hazardous materials including pathogens, chemicals and other pollutants. Its presence in natural bodies of water disrupts aquatic ecosystems, reduces biodiversity and harms public health through contaminated drinking water sources. This contamination also makes recreational activities like fishing much more dangerous as it poses risks to humans who consume fish from polluted waters as well as other wildlife native to the region. This can wreak havoc upon developing communities that rely on fisheries for their livelihoods. In urban areas particularly, lack of proper sewage treatment often means raw sewage is dumped directly into rivers which ultimately leads to higher levels of disease transmission for those living in close proximity.
Is Wastewater Treatment Bad for the Environment?
Wastewater treatment is necessary to improve the quality of water resources, but it was a common misconception that the treatment process was detrimental to the environment. In fact, thanks to the innovative technologies developed in recent years and implemented at wastewater treatment sites, wastewater treatment not only helps protect our environment from further damage—it can also improve it.
Some facilities use an approach called Activated Treatment Aeration and Digestion (ATAD) to treat water by simulating the natural process that exists in lakes and streams. Instead of relying on chemicals, we use a combination of air and microorganisms to break down pollutants and organic matter in wastewater, ultimately resulting in CO2 and water being released into the atmosphere. ATAD also creates a byproduct known as biosolids which are essentially liquid compost fertilizers which can be used safely on soil while promoting crop growth.
When properly managed, wastewater treatments can prove to be beneficial for both humans and our environment. Many people do not realize that modern technology has done much to minimize any potential negative environmental impact of this essential process.
How modern wastewater treatment techniques can help?
In the face of mounting global environmental problems, modern wastewater treatment techniques play an important role in helping to mitigate our impact and reduce the pollution of natural bodies of water. Contaminated water entering our rivers, lakes and oceans not only affects human health and drinking water supplies, but also disrupts ecosystems and damages delicate habitats. To combat this issue, modern wastewater treatment processes remove up to 99% of contaminants using a number of advanced techniques.
The various wastewater treatment techniques used today vary from plant to plant; some employ physical processes such as settling tanks or screening systems, while others use biological methods such as activated sludge or septic systems. For example, dissolved air flotation can be used for suspended solids removal before any remaining solids are further treated using chemical precipitation or oxidation/reduction. The end result is purified effluent which can be safely returned to nature or even reused for agricultural irrigation or industrial cooling applications. All these innovative technologies offer a potent means of reducing our environmental strain in an efficient manner that meets regulatory guidelines at the same time.
You Can Assist in Keeping Water Clean
Proper wastewater treatment is essential for ensuring a healthy and clean environment, but it’s not always easy to know how best to ensure that water is kept as clean as possible. One of the ways that you can make a difference is by taking the time to understand what materials should not be sent down your drain or toilet. You can visit websites that contain valuable information about this, including advice on what should and shouldn’t go into your drain system.
It is also important to check on any potential leaks in both indoor and outdoor piping so that they can be repaired quickly and efficiently. Lastly, if you are ever feeling overwhelmed or have any questions about our wastewater treatment operations, do not hesitate to contact us for more help. We are here to provide guidance and support when it comes to keeping our waterways clean so that we can sustainably enjoy them for years to come!