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A Field Trip to Your Waste Water Treatment Plant

Have you ever wondered what happens to your water after it’s flushed down the toilet or runs down the drain? Most of us don’t think about it — out of sight, out of mind. But we should be conscientious with our plumbing maintenance and water usage. Just like our garbage is taken to the landfill, wastewater treatment uses resources and requires disposal.

Unless you have a septic tank, the water from your house — the shower, the toilet, the dishwasher, clothes washer, etc. — flows through a pipe into the main sewer line. Slow drains or smelly drain backups can result from blockage of this pipe, usually by breakage, tree roots, or grease buildup. Mr. Rooter of Greater Syracuse offers plumbing camera inspection, which can identify problems so they can be fixed quickly.

The wastewater is pumped through sewer lines to the wastewater treatment plant. From there, many steps and processes take place to make the water safe again for public use, or for release into a waterway:

1. Wastewater flows through a series of screens to remove solids from the water. These solids fall into a trough, are pressed to remove water and then are dropped into a dumpster.

2. The water is pumped into a large tank called a clarifier, where the heavy particles fall into a V-shaped bottom. They are then pumped into another press where water is removed, and the material falls into another dumpster. The surface is skimmed to remove floating oil and grease.

3. Water flows into a Biolac, where bacteria feed on the organic matter, removing nitrogen and phosphorus. Blowers add air to the water, speeding up the process.

4. Another clarifier tank, where solids again settle to the bottom. Water is removed and the solids are sent to the dumpster.

5. The next step is a state-of-the-art process to remove ammonia and phosphorus. Polystyrene beads are added, providing a surface area for bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrate and nitrite. A coagulant is added, along with micro-sand, which causes phosphorus to “clump” so it can settle and be removed.

6. The water passes through an ultraviolet light disinfection system, which neutralizes bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.

7. All solids that have been removed from the water throughout these processes are pressed to de-water and shape into a cake, which is sent to a landfill.

Wastewater treatment is not a simple process — it’s complex, labor-intensive, and requires lots of expensive machinery. So it just makes sense to conserve water usage, and reduce the amount of water flowing through the treatment plant. Call Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Syracuse to have a Service Professional visit at no charge, do a “Plumbing Check Up” and discuss plumbing maintenance as well as ideas for reducing your home’s water usage.

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