Industrial and residential wastewater are reclaimed through many of the same methods to ensure that it is released back into the environment safely. This treatment process turns wastewater into reclaimed water, which is usually used on crops or lawns, and sludge, which is safely disposed of depending on composition.
Screens and Aerating Tanks
The initial steps in the industrial wastewater treatment process include screening items such as rocks and sticks out before the water reaches the pumps because they can damage the equipment used to reclaim water. Aeration tanks will vibrate or otherwise jostle the wastewater to encourage sludge to settle on the bottom of the tanks, dissolved gasses to evaporate and lighter substances such as oil and grease to rise to the top. The settled sludge and raked scum are pumped off to be further treated while the water proceeds to testing, chemical treatment and more testing before being returned to the environment.
Dehydrating and Chemical Treatments
To remove as many harmful substances as possible, the sludge makes it way through a series of tanks where bacteria digests organic material, harmful substances are neutralized, and more water is removed through heat and drying racks. The dry sludge is then tested to see if it can safely be used as fertilizer or if it needs to be buried or burned instead. The water is treated with chlorine to destroy bacteria and then that chemical is neutralized to make it safer for plant and animal life. It is then tested to ensure that it has adequate levels of nitrates and other substances so it can safely mix with the river where it is released.
Reclaimed wastewater from industrial and residential sources is an important part of both modern life and environmental health. Wastewater treatment plants use specialized equipment and tanks to separate particulates, test for and neutralize chemicals and ensure that reclaimed water is safe for crops, wildlife and human consumption.