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Wastewater refers to any water that has been altered or otherwise affected by human actions or functions. This includes sewage, rainwater that makes contact with streets or highways, and water that has been polluted by industrial means. There are various forms of wastewater treatment technology, each one being used for specific levels of contamination. Often, they are used in combination to ensure that water is returned to as natural a state as possible and is safe for human consumption.
Primarily, wastewater treatment technology is implemented in an on-site sewage facility. The water is run through pipes from homes and buildings, through the underground sewer systems, and then to the facility where it is purified, sanitized and treated in a variety of ways. The overall goal is to eventually return the water to drinking reservoirs and other storage facilities where it will be available for reuse.
Aerobic wastewater treatment technology involves the use of “good” bacteria. These organisms are generally of an oxygen-dependent variety, meaning that adequate amounts of oxygen must be present in order for them to survive. The bacteria destroy harmful microorganisms and in the process give off both carbon dioxide and water as waste products. These compounds are both harmless and necessary for decontaminating drinking water.
Another type of wastewater treatment technology uses microfiltration or synthetic membranes. These are essentially filters which are designed small enough to catch even minuscule microorganisms, thus removing them from the water. Wastewater is moved through the filters more than once to ensure proper filtration. This method is generally used in combination with chemicals, which are added for further decontamination. Chemical additives like chlorine can then be re-filtered back out of the water using the same filtration methods, leaving it pure and fresh.
Denitrification uses methanol to purify water by encouraging the growth of certain bacteria which give off carbon. The carbon then neutralizes or removes nitrates from the water. Nitrates can be harmful for human consumption and have been linked to a host of health problems, like cancer. They are generally found in polluted water that has been contaminated by roads or factories. This water may be contain relatively high amounts of oil, fluids, and tar residue; all of which contain nitrates and other harmful toxins.
Newer wastewater treatment technology uses ozone that is manufactured by an ozone generator. The generator produces ozone containing bubbles that are percolated throughout the water continuously over a set period of time, thus neutralizing and decontaminating it. This method provides the same effects as the others without the use of harsh chemicals. Ozone treatment may still be used in combination with other methods for optimum results.