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Lesson 12: Overview of the Wastewater Treatment Process

Objective
In this lesson we will learn the following: What the different sources of wastewater include. What the different steps include in the treatment process.

Reading Assignment
Along with the online lesson, read Chapter 1: The Treatment Plant Operator, Chapter 2: Why Treat Wastes? and Chapter 3: Wastewater Treatment Facilities, in your textbook Operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants Volume I .

Lecture Introduction
This lesson begins the second half of ENV 110. This half of the course is concerned with the treatment of wastewater. Before beginning this lesson, you should have taken Exam 1 and visited two water treatment plants to conclude the water treatment portion of the course. Lessons 1 through 11 considered the water treatment process. Water flows from the source through the treatment plant and to the consumer. But what happens to the water after it reaches the consumer? The second half of this course will concern itself with wastewater - the used water and solids from a community as well as the storm water which runs off streets and other surfaces during storms. You will remember that water is naturally cleaned and reused as part of the hydrologic cycle in the outside world. In the human world, water is also cleaned and reused. Our wastewater is channeled to a wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned and released back into lakes and rivers. This water reenters the hydrologic cycle and will eventually be pumped back up by another water treatment plant to be purified and released to customers.

Sources of Wastewater
You can classify wastewater as domestic, industrial, or storm, according to its origin. Domestic sources include water used for normal activity in homes, businesses and institutions. Domestic wastewater is readily treatable. The character of industrical wastewater depends on the type of industry using the water. Some industrial wastewaters can be treated the same as domestic wastes without difficulty. Others may contain toxic substances or high percentages of organic materials or solids which make treatment difficult. In such cases, the industrial plant may have to pretreat its wastewater to remove these pollutants or reduce them to treatable levels before they are accepted into a publicly-owned treatment facility. Storm water often goes to a treatment plant, although it is usually low in pollutants. Great amounts of storm water can interfere with treatment efficiency in two ways: Storm water may cause too much dilution of the wastewater. At the same time, it may cause hydraulic overloading of the plant. In most cases, wastewater systems now call for separate storm sewers.

In the Treatment Plant


In the treatment plant there are many steps involved in treating wastewater. Below is a quick overview of the possible steps involved. We will learn more about each step as the course goes on.

The general principle in wastewater treatment is to remove pollutants from the water by getting them either to settle or to float, and then removing this material. Some pollutants are easily removable. Others must be converted to a settleable form before they can be removed. Treatment facilities are designed in stages. Each stage either removes particles from the wastewater or changes dissolved and suspended material to a form that can be removed. A modern wastewater treatment plant may include these stages: influent primary treatment secondary treatment tertiary treatment disinfection and effluent discharge

Influent
Influent is the raw material that has been collected and conveyed to the plant for treatment. It includes all the water and debris that entered the collection system.

Primary Treatment
To prevent damage to pumps and clogging of pipes, raw wastewater passes through mechanically raked bar screens to remove large debris, such as rags, plastics, sticks, and cans. Smaller inorganic material, such as sand and gravel, is removed by a grit removal system. The ligher organic solids remain suspended in the water and flow into large tanks, called primary clarifiers . Here, the heavier organic solids settle by gravity. These settled solids, called primary sludge, are removed along with floating scum and grease and pumped to anaerobic digesters for further treatment.

Secondary Treatment
The primary effluent is then transferred to the biological or secondary stage. Here, the wastewater is mixed with a controlled population of bacteria and an ample supply of oxygen. The microorganisms digest the fine suspended and soluble organic materials, thereby removing them from the wastewater. The effluent is then transferred to secondary clarifiers, where the biological solids or sludges are settled by gravity. As with the primary clarifier, these sludges are pumped to anaerobic digesters, and the clear secondary effluent may flow directly to the receiving environment or to a disinfection facity prior to release. There are several variations of secondary treatment, including: activated sludge trickling filtration rotating biological contactors (RBC) lagoons and ponds

Tertiary Treatment
Tertiary, or advanced, wastewater treatment is the term applied to additonal treatment that is needed to remove suspended and dissolved substances remaining after conventional secondary

treatment. This may be accomplished using a variety of physical, chemical, or biological treatment processes to remove the targeted pollutants. Advanced treatment may be used to remove such things as color, metals, organic chemicals, and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

Disinfection
Before the final effluent is released into the receiving waters, it may be disinfected to reduce the disease-causing microorganisms that remain in it. The most common processes use chlorine gas or a chlorine-based disinfectant such as sodium hypochlorite. To avoid excess chlorine escaping to the environment, the effluent may be dechlorinated prior to discharge. Other disinfection options include untraviolet light and ozone.

Review
You can classify wastewater as domestic, industrial, or storm, according to its origin. In the treatment plant there are many steps involved in treating wastewater. The general principle in wastewater treatment is to remove pollutants from the water by getting them either to settle or to float, and then removing this material. A modern wastewater treatment plant may include these stages: influent primary treatment secondary treatment tertiary treatment disinfection and effluent discharge

Assignment
Work the following crossword puzzle that comes from definitions in your textbook. You may either print the puzzle out, complete it and mail or fax back to the instructor or you may send an email with the correct answers numbered accordingly

Quiz
Answer the questions in the Lesson 12 quiz . When you have gotten all the answers correct, print the page and either mail or fax it to the instructor.