Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Are Wastewater Treatment Plants So Important?


Wastewater treatment plants do just as they say. They treat the water that goes down our drains before releasing it back into the environment. Wastewater treatment plants have evolved considerably over time. Their first, and most important purpose is to clear the water we use in our homes of solid materials. This process of screening and settlement is known as primary treatment. Although this removes the largest debris items, the wastewater is still full of organic material, which doesn’t smell great and, if dumped directly into our water bodies, can contaminate them and consume available oxygen as it decomposes.  This is why virtually all treatment plants in the U.S. use a process of aeration to encourage the growth of beneficial microorganism which break down the biological material in the waste, in a process called secondary treatment.  In many cases the water is then discharged, often after sterilization with Ultra Violet light which kills potentially disease causing bacteria and viruses.  This was the case here in Rhode Island until about 2005.   However as city populations grow, more and more nutrients are going into the wastewater treatment facilities and being discharged into our waterways. These excess nutrients act like fertilizer to the plants and algae living in the water. Unfortunately, too much fertilizer in the Bay is a bad thing. Phytoplankton (tiny microscopic plants) begin to bloom uncontrollably, blocking out sunlight needed by other plants lower in the water column. Once the algae reaches maximum capacity it begins to die off in mass numbers. The dead cells sink to the bottom where bacteria decompose the cells, using up oxygen in the process. As the bacteria pull oxygen out of the water, the fish, shellfish and other organism in the area begin to suffocate. Those that cannot swim away eventually die, providing more food for the oxygen-consuming bacteria.
However, recent advancements in technology and awareness have brought about new technologies which can treat wastewater to remove these nutrients is done in the third phase, known as tertiary treatment. Click here to download an article about wastewater treatment in Rhode Island, and learn “what happens after you flush.”
Countless fish and shellfish
died in Greenwich Bay in 2003
when dissolved oxygen reached
critically low levels for an
extended period of time.
Following the Greenwich Bay fish kill in 2003, Rhode Island passed a law requiring a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen discharges coming out of wastewater treatment plants in the Upper Bay. To date, nine wastewater treatment facilities in the Narragansett Bay Watershed have completed their upgrades, with three more following closely behind. However, the largest treatment facility in Rhode Island, Fields Point, is still under construction.
As these upgrades come on line, we can expect to see conditions clear up in Narragansett Bay. But it won’t happen over night. The Bay, and the creatures living in it will have to adjust to the cleaner waters. Scientists throughout the region are studying various parameters that will likely be affected and improved over time so we can have a baseline understanding of the current conditions and assess the improvements over time.
Come back soon to read about the Nutrient Budget being developed for Narragansett Bay!

10 comments:

CVGi said...

wastewater treatment plants are indeed very much required so as to clean the water from all the waste and harmful micro organisms. But apart from that i think that people on their part should also try to avoid putting any kind of waste material into water sources.

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wastewater operator certification said...

Well, One thing that I have learned about my wastewater treatment training is that water is one of the difficult thing to deal with specially when out of control. I'd say that if the sea level continues to increase, the families in that area should move. No point of risking your lives just to stay in that same place.

Water Treatment Chemicals said...

Waste water treatment is a process that is done on the wastewater and sewage water to remove the contaminants and other impurities.Water Treatment Chemicals

edsmith945 said...

Thank you for sharing. Nutrient removal is becoming a growing challenge for operators of anaerobic digestors at cattle and dairy farms. Removal of nutrients in wastewater is costly.

france pope said...

This is fabulous.Great post!Thank you for sharing.Keep it up!!!

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myrtle mayers said...

Hi there! glad to drop by your page and found these very interesting and informative stuff. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!

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Chandrakanth Michigan said...

So Many ways water can be filtered like water softeners ,Waste Water Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant , Effluent Treatment Plant,Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant. this can be used to filter the water. thanks for sharing such an important article with us. all the best. keep on posting.

water purifing system said...

Very interesting post and very informative. This would definitely be a good blog to view to find out the interesting processing method of waste water when processed by the treatment plant. I love this writing, I can perhaps watch it over and over and still find it interesting and entertaining.
Best luck!~ Rachel T.

Sewage treatment plants said...

Its crucial for us to understand significance of wastewater treatment for our environment. We have to think about waste recycling and treating wastewater helps us a lot in that direction. Thanks for the wonderful article we have gained such important knowledge.

Tyler Gage said...

I believe that renewable energy and water purification processes like wastewater treatment process are not only good for the planet but are key to the future of our civilization. Nice blog anyways!