What is Water Treatment Waste?

Ken Black

Water treatment waste is any product that is discarded into a sewer system, usually a sanitary sewer system, that has solids and is considered unsafe. Types of waste include biological waste from normal bodily functions, industrial water waste from factories and other manufacturing facilities, as well as common household waste. No matter what type of waste it is, water treatment waste usually travels to same place. A waste water treatment plant will filter out the solids and release clean water.

Sewage treatment facilities use chemical and physical screening processes to remove sewage and other particulates from water.
Sewage treatment facilities use chemical and physical screening processes to remove sewage and other particulates from water.

The normal household waste includes that disposed of when cooking and cleaning. This includes waste from the kitchen, bathroom, and the laundry room. Water treatment waste of this type would consist of water with soaps, food particles, and other chemicals that, if released the natural environment, would be, or have the potential to be, very harmful. Like any other type of waste, this has to be processed and removed from the water.

A sewer main pipe is a special gravity-fed pipe.
A sewer main pipe is a special gravity-fed pipe.

Biological waste includes fecal material and urine, sent via a sanitary sewer connection to the water treatment facility. By the time it gets to the main sewer line, the household waste and biological waste will mix together, as they both are cleaned in the same manner.

Industrial waste water treatment may be done a bit differently. During the manufacturing process, some jurisdictions may allow waste water to be put directly into a stream or river, provided certain guidelines are met. There can be no biological waste expelled with the industrial waste, and metals and other solids in the water must be kept within certain parameters. The types of metals found in the effluent will also be restricted to those not deemed as posing a serious threat to the environment, including aquatic life.

Some industrial plants, especially those in the butchering and meat packing industry, may also be set up to handle the primary sewage treatment, commonly referred to as Stage 1, themselves. This water treatment waste is filled with biological solids as well, but instead of fecal material and urine, blood and other materials are often present. Treatment is done on site when an analysis shows it is cost effective for the packing plant to handle a portion of their own water treatment waste. Thus, after the primary treatment is completed on site, the rest of the waste will likely be transported to a governmental waste water treatment plant via special sewer mains that bypass that first step.

Waste water treatment plants deal with human waste and household waste, but industrial waste is usually handled by the producer.
Waste water treatment plants deal with human waste and household waste, but industrial waste is usually handled by the producer.

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