- Wastewater refers to all effluent from a household, hospitals, commercial organizations and institutions, industries and so on. It is also inclusive of agricultural, horticultural, stormwater and urban runoff, and aquaculture effluent.
- Effluent is used to refer to the liquid waste or sewage that is discharged into water bodies either from treatment plants or direct sources.
A contaminant is something that contaminates a substance such as water or food.
- Organic impurities may include the substances that pollute abiotic components like water, soil etc. Organic impurities, which pollute water are collectively called as sewage.
- Organic impurities in sewage include animal waste, urine, oil, vegetable and fruit waste, faeces, pesticides and herbicides.
Inorganic impurities include phosphates, nitrates and metals. Inorganic impurities generally do not contain any carbon, but there are certain inorganic impurities, which contain carbon like carbon dioxide.
- Bacteria are a type of microorganism, which are tiny forms of life that can only be seen with a microscope.
- Harmful bacteria that cause bacterial infections and disease are called pathogenic bacteria.
- The diseases caused by bacteria are typhoid, cholera, pneumonia etc.
Sewage: Who’s That?
- Sewage is the wastewater released by hospitals, homes or industrial establishments that is carried away in sewers or drains for dumping or conversion into a form that is not toxic.
- Sewage is a liquid waste containing a complex mixture of suspended solids, organic and inorganic impurities, nutrients, saprophytic and disease-causing bacteria, and some other microbes.
Saprophytic bacteria are kind of bacteria that feed on dead decaying plants and animals, rotten wood, stagnant water and many other decaying substances, which are rich in organic matter.
Wastewater treatment is a process used to remove contaminants and make the water usable.
- Wastewater Collection
- Primary Treatment
- Secondary Treatment
- Final Treatment
- Screening is one of the first stages in the process of treating wastewater.
- In this process, the larger objects are removed from wastewater and then moved into the grit and sand removal tank.
- Wastewater after screening is taken for primary treatment where all the organic waste is removed.
- Primary treatment is done by pouring the wastewater into big tanks for the solid matter to settle at the surface of the tanks.
The settled solids, after primary treatment, are called the sludge. It is decomposed by bacteria and the gas emitted is known as biogas, which can be used as a fuel or can be used to generate electricity.
- Water after primary treatment is passed through a tank called ‘aeration lane’’ where the air is tapped into the water to increase the growth of aerobic bacteria.
- Bacteria break down small particles of sludge that escaped after primary treatment.
After the secondary treatment, the broken down sludge settles down at the base of the huge tank known as ‘activated sludge’. It contains air in it.
- The activated sludge is passed through a bed of sand drying machine where the sludge is dried up and water is filtered out.
- The water is directed to flow over a wall wherein it gets filtered through sand bed to eliminate additional particles if any.
- This water that is filtered is then released into the river.
Sewage from each house is collected through the drainage and the network of pipes called sewers take them to the wastewater treatment plants from which its released into water bodies.
Better housekeeping practices
- Cooking oil and fats should not be thrown down the drain as the fats clog and block the pipes.
- Used tea leaves, solid food remains, soft toys, cotton, sanitary towels, etc. should not be thrown in drains as do not allow free flow of oxygen. This hampers the degradation process.
- Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces.
- Poor sanitation causes a large number of diseases and health hazards.
- In this process, the waste sewage slurry collected from sewage disposal systems are treated with earthworms, wigglers and tiger worms.
- They decompose the faecal matter, kitchen waste (organic) and other households organic waste.
- It is a very simple, hygienic and low water consuming process with no odour or flies problem.
The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, polyethene, in which sewage is collected and allowed to decompose through bacterial activity before draining by means of a soak-away.