Every year World Water Day sports a different theme to focus on. This year’s theme is Wastewater. Admittedly, this is not as exciting or attention grabbing as some water topics, however, it is vitally important to the preservation of our environment and our ability to continue to have clean drinking water.
Because this term may not be clear to everyone, let’s quickly define it. Wastewater can be defined simply as: water that has been used for some purpose. This water is then treated at some type of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) before being used again or returned to nature. Oftentimes wastewater mostly coming from homes and light industries is called sewage and may be treated at a sewage treatment plant. Regardless of what we call it, the idea is that we clean it or “manage” it before sending it back into nature.
However, it is not a perfect system. Too often, used water, or wastewater from homes, businesses, and agriculture flows back into nature without first being properly treated. This is a major threat to our environment. Lots of chemicals, bacterias, and other pollutants are added to water when used. Being that we are the ones that add these things to the water, we are responsible for removing them before returning the water back to nature.
There are many decisions that need to be made during the wastewater management process. First, it must be determined if the water can be reused or if it needs to be disposed. Next, sedimentation separates the solids from the liquids. Next, various filtration methods are used that many include oxidation and polishing. Finally, depending on the type of wastewater (sewage, industrial, agricultural, or leachate) additional filtering and cleaning of the water may be necessary.
Consider the options below when thinking about your wastewater:
- Tour your local wastewater treatment plant. Even if you are not into science and chemistry, most facilities are very visually interesting simply because of how much water is flowing through them. Some facilities move up to 100 million gallons a day! And, after all, they take care of all of your ‘waste’ which is pretty interesting!
- Reduce the amount of water you put down the drain every day. Think about ways you can use less water at home, work, and school.
- Reuse water for another purpose. For example, you can collect the water used to wash produce and use it for your household plants or outdoor garden.
- Think about what you are putting down the drain. Avoid flushing medicines, chemicals, or other unnatural liquids or solids down the drain. Most of these items go untreated through the sewer systems and end up causing ecological harm to our lakes, rivers and streams. And remember, ‘FLUSHABLE WIPES’ are NOT FLUSHABLE. Only poo, paper, and pee should go down the toilet!
- Use rain barrels to capture rainwater and use it for watering your lawn/garden. You can even save money on your sewer bill in some cities.
- Attend the World Water Day 2017 event nearest you.