There are three different types of wastewater (a polite way to say sewage!): domestic sewage, industrial sewage, and storm sewage. Domestic sewage is the used water from houses and apartments, mostly coming from the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sources. Things like dishwashing, the garbage disposal, and of course baths and showers are included in the mix.
So why are we bringing up domestic sewage?
Domestic sewage contains much more than just water. It contains anything that might go down the drains, soaps, bits of food, hair, and anything else that might get flushed down. It’s filled with organic materials and plant nutrients that tend to rot along the way.
Is there a problem with domestic sewage?
The various soaps and powders that we use to clean our house and laundry can sometimes contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals, when added into the sewage supply can affect the health of all forms of life in the water. When sewage enters a lake or stream, microorganisms begin to decompose the organic materials.
Some people say “the solution to pollution is dilution”. Try to say that three times fast! When small amounts of sewage are discharged into a flowing body of water, a natural process of stream self-purification occurs. Instead of discharging sewage directly into a nearby body of water, it’s better to let it pass through a combination of physical, biological, and chemical processes that remove some or most of the pollutants – this takes place in sewage treatment plants and of coursepersonal septic systems.
Sewage treatment plants and septic tanks neutralize and deactivate the chemicals found in wastewater. They work by relying on bacteria that will eat away the nitrates and organic matter that is found in the wastewater. Restoration of wetlands in certain areas can also help both the environment as well as treating domestic sewage before it pollutes the natural waterways.
Are there any simple steps to help stop wastewater pollution?
Don’t flush things that don’t belong! Don’t flush wet wipes, sanitary napkins, or things like cotton swabs. Make sure your children know what goes down the toilet and the garbage disposal. If it doesn’t belong, bag it or if it’s organic, compost it!