Many of us take it for granted, but effective wastewater treatment is a cornerstone of good health in our society. Without sanitation services providing safe handling of wastewater, many people could become ill quickly. According to recent studies from the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, there are more than 14,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities in the United States. With this much effort put towards creating a clean environment for the ecosystems, it can be a good idea to learn the basics of wastewater treatment.
Wastewater is directed into large tanks and allowed to settle. During settling, heavy and solid items should sink to the bottom of the tank and lighter items should float to the top of the wastewater. These items are filtered out to sludge tanks for contamination treatment, while the water is sent to the next treatment stage, often using pump mechanisms like the Gast vacuum pump.
The wastewater is often full of contaminants that are of biological origin. These biohazards need to be removed from the water, either through filtration, oxidation or aeration. Whichever method is chosen, the filtration of biological elements can take some time depending on how contaminated the water may be. However, the secondary stage is important because it works on a small scale to remove potentially harmful organisms.
The final stage of treatment, the tertiary level brings the water to safe levels for use in homes or industries. Requirements for pathogen levels are set by federal and state agencies, so they may differ depending on location. Regardless, it is possible to treat previously contaminated wastewater and make it safe for drinking. Technological developments in this area can be less damaging for the ecosystem and create sustainable options for the future of humanity.