Transforming Wastewater to H2O: Simple Concept, Complex Processes

It seems like a pretty simple concept. But from a waste treatment perspective, there’s a lot more to wastewater than what gets flushed down the toilet—or even poured down the drain. Depending on what it contains, wastewater needs to be treated effectively to remove as much of the waste materials before the water is released back into the environment—and our water supply.

Think of it this way: wastewater is water that’s been used. Wastewater from homes holds materials like food scraps, soaps, household chemicals, and human waste. Industrial wastewater is another thing entirely. Different industries produce different wastewater, which can contain materials like heavy metals, phenols, chemicals, acids, solvents, oils… So, industrial wastewater treatment must address the waste materials in the water itself to effectively remove waste materials before the effluent—the treated wastewater—is discharged into our water supply.

Since wastewater is our bread and butter (so to speak), we could go into more detail than you can imagine. But the most important thing you should know is that three major treatment methods effectively treat wastewater: physical, chemical, and biological processes.

  • Physical processes include screening, mixing, sedimentation, filtration, and gas transfer.
  • Chemical methods remove contaminants or convert them to other substances via chemical reactions brought on by adding chemicals or reactants to the wastewater. Common processes include adsorption, disinfection, and precipitation.
  • With biological processes, contaminants are removed via biological activity to remove nutrients and biodegradable organic materials from wastewater. Biological treatment converts these components into gases or material that settles and can then be removed.

At Environmental Remedies, we use all three methods to treat wastewater. And we select the best treatment methods depending on the actual wastewater components—which brings us to our next vital point: Your wastewater can only be treated effectively if the treatment methods “fit” the waste materials in your wastewater. That’s why we use material profile sheets and wastewater samples to help us evaluate your wastewater and the best methods to treat it.

One more thing: just because your wastewater is “non-hazardous” doesn’t mean it’s harmless. To learn more, read our article “So You Think Your Waste Is Just Non-Haz? There’s More to it Than That.” And considering that some communities are planning to use highly treated wastewater as directly potable recycled water—read “drinking water”—it’s time we all started thinking about wastewater more seriously than before.

Environmental Remedies knows wastewater. Our waste treatment processing operation is the largest commercial and industrial non-hazardous waste treatment operation in the Southeastern United States, processing more than 30 million gallons of waste each year, which equates to a return of more than 28 million gallons of water to our region’s future water supply. If you have questions about your waste, we have solutions. Call us at 800-399-2783 or visit our website. With Environmental Remedies on your side, all solutions lead to clean.