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Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

General Outline Of The Course

 Human activities
 Objectives of wastewater treatment
 Wastewater characteristics and flow
 BOD kinetics
 Design criteria flow and forecasting
 Wastewater treatment processes
 Design of wastewater stabilisation ponds
 On-site sanitation
 Slag treatment and disposal

Water pollution: Is when one or more substances have built up in water to such an extent
that they cause problems for animals and people as well as the plant life in the water

Personal addition: “pollution is a state resulting when substances are released into a body of water,
where they become dissolved or suspended in the water or deposited on the bottom, accumulating to
the extent that they overwhelm its capacity to absorb, break down, or recycle them, and thus
interfering with the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.

Contributions to water pollution include:

1) substances drawn from the air (acid rain), 2) silt from soil erosion,
3) chemical fertilizers and pesticides, 4) runoff from septic tanks,
5) outflow from livestock feedlots, 6) chemical wastes (some toxic) from industries,
7) sewage and other urban wastes from cities and towns.

When organic matter exceeds the capacity of microorganisms in the water to break it down and
recycle it, the excess of nutrients in such matter encourages algal water blooms. When these algae
die, their remains add further to the organic wastes already in the water, and eventually the water
becomes deficient in oxygen. Organisms that do not require oxygen then attack the organic wastes,
releasing gases such as methane and hydrogen sulphide, which are harmful to the oxygen-requiring
forms of life. The result is a foul-smelling, waste-filled body of water.”

The Self Purification Concept (to be expanded)

This is where the water body can naturally clean up a certain amount of pollution by
dispensing it harmlessly therefore water pollution is all about quantity: How much polluting
substance is released and how much volume of water body is affected.

Categories of water pollution

1. Point source pollution: refers to contaminants that enter a water way through a discrete
conveyance such as a pipe or a ditch. For instance, it may be water coming from a point
such as an industry. Or a sewage treatment plant, or city storm drain.

Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

2. Non-point source pollution: refers to diffuse contamination that does not originate from
a single discrete source and is often the cumulative effect of contaminants gathered from a
large area. For example pollution due to agricultural chemicals that have been washed away
in time. Sometimes in form of silt and clay

NB: the 2 discussed forms of pollution are for surface water.

It’s difficult to distinguish between point and non-point sources because aquifers are
distributed underground and are susceptible to various sources of contaminants.

Analysis of ground water contamination may focus on soil characteristics, site geology,
hydrology and the nature of the contaminants.

Causes of water pollution

 The specific contaminants are chemicals with pathogens and physical or sensory
such as elevated temperature and discolouration.
 Concentration is often a key in determining what is a natural component of
water and what is a contaminant.
 Oxygen-depleting substances: may be natural materials like plant material as well
as man-made chemicals.
 Other natural and anthropogenic substances which may cause turbidity
(cloudiness of the water) which blocks light and disrupts plant growth and clogs
the gills of some fish species.
Many of the chemical substances are toxic to the flaura and the fauna.
Pathogens can give rise to waterborne disease in either human or animals.

This is an increase in the concentration of chemical nutrients in an ecosystem to an extent
that causes an increase in the primary productivity of the ecosystem.

Personal addition: “Eutrophication is an increase in the concentration of chemical nutrients in an

ecosystem to an extent that increases in the primary productivity of the ecosystem. Depending on the
degree of eutrophication, subsequent negative environmental effects such as anoxia (oxygen
depletion) and severe reductions in water quality may occur, affecting fish and other animal

“The process by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of nutrients, especially
phosphates and nitrates. These typically promote excessive growth of algae. As the algae die and
decompose, high levels of organic matter and the decomposing organisms deplete the water of
available oxygen, causing the death of other organisms, such as fish. Eutrophication is a natural,
slow-aging process for a water body, but human activity greatly speeds up the process.” - Art, 1993

“The enrichment of bodies of fresh water by inorganic plant nutrients (e.g. nitrate, phosphate). It
may occur naturally but can also be the result of human activity (cultural eutrophication from

Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

fertiliser runoff and sewage discharge) and is particularly evident in slow-moving rivers and shallow
lakes...” - Lawrence and Jackson, 1998

Eutrophication can be human-caused or natural. Untreated sewage effluent and agricultural run-off
carrying fertilizers are examples of human-caused eutrophication. However, it also occurs naturally in
situations where nutrients accumulate (e.g. depositional environments), or where they flow into
systems on an ephemeral basis. Eutrophication generally promotes excessive plant growth and
decay, favouring simple algae and plankton over other more complicated plants, and causes a severe
reduction in water quality. Enhanced growth of aquatic vegetation or phytoplankton and algal
blooms disrupts normal functioning of the ecosystem, causing a variety of problems such as a lack of
oxygen needed for fish and shellfish to survive. The water becomes cloudy, typically coloured a shade
of green, yellow, brown, or red. Eutrophication also decreases the value of rivers, lakes, and estuaries
for recreation, fishing, hunting, and aesthetic enjoyment. Health problems can occur where eutrophic
conditions interfere with drinking water treatment.

Eutrophication was recognized as a pollution problem in European and North American lakes and
reservoirs in the mid-20th century.[3] Since then, it has become more widespread. Surveys showed
that 54% of lakes in Asia are eutrophic; in Europe, 53%; in North America, 48%; in South America,
41%; and in Africa, 28%.

Although eutrophication is commonly caused by human activities, it can also be a natural process
particularly in lakes. Eutrophy occurs in many lakes in temperate grasslands, for instance.
Paleolimnologists now recognise that climate change, geology, and other external influences are
critical in regulating the natural productivity of lakes. Some lakes also demonstrate the reverse
process (meiotrophication), becoming less nutrient rich with time.

Eutrophication can also be a natural process in seasonally inundated tropical floodplains. In the
Barotse Floodplain of the Zambezi River, the first floodwaters of the rainy season are usually hypoxic
because of material such as cattle manure and previous decay of vegetation which grew during the
dry season. These so-called "red waters" kill many fish. The process can be made worse by the use of
fertilizers in crops such as maize, rice, and sugarcane grown on the floodplain.

Human activities can accelerate the rate at which nutrients enter ecosystems. Runoff from
agriculture and development, pollution from septic systems and sewers, and other human-related
activities increase the flow of both inorganic nutrients and organic substances into ecosystems.
Elevated levels of atmospheric compounds of nitrogen can increase nitrogen availability. Phosphorus
is often regarded as the main culprit in cases of eutrophication in lakes subjected to "point source"
pollution from sewage pipes. The concentration of algae and the trophic state of lakes correspond
well to phosphorus levels in water. Studies conducted in the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario have
shown a relationship between the addition of phosphorus and the rate of eutrophication. Humankind
has increased the rate of phosphorus cycling on Earth by four times, mainly due to agricultural
fertilizer production and application. Between 1950 and 1995, an estimated 600 million tonnes of
phosphorus were applied to Earth's surface, primarily on croplands. Policy changes to control point
sources of phosphorus have resulted in rapid control of eutrophication.

In conclusion, it can be generalised that the main effects caused by eutrophication can be
summarized as follows:

1. Species diversity decreases and the dominant biota changes

2. Plant and animal biomass increase

Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

3. Turbidity increases
4. Rate of sedimentation increases, shortening the lifespan of the lake
5. Anoxic conditions may develop


This can be defined as water that is generated from the use of water by human activities, be
it domestic or industrial.

Personal addition “Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by
anthropogenic influence. It comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial
properties, industry, and/or agriculture and can encompass a wide range of potential contaminants
and concentrations. In the most common usage, it refers to the municipal wastewater that contains a
broad spectrum of contaminants resulting from the mixing of wastewaters from different sources.

Sewage is correctly the subset of wastewater that is contaminated with faeces or urine, but is often
used to mean any waste water. "Sewage" includes domestic, municipal, or industrial liquid waste
products disposed of, usually via a pipe or sewer or similar structure, sometimes in a cesspool

The physical infrastructure, including pipes, pumps, screens, channels etc. used to convey sewage
from its origin to the point of eventual treatment or disposal is termed sewerage.”

Characteristics of wastewater:

 Water {usually 99.9%}

 Organic matter
 Inorganic material
 Fats and grease
 Biological components (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, pathogens)

The characteristics of water can be classified as physical or chemical

 Physical: these are features/properties that we can identify by our senses :-

smell, colour, taste
 Chemical: can still be identified by the senses but further arte classified as
organic or inorganic.
 Organic: carbon based (mainly come from human waste)

Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

 Inorganic: from chemicals used in cleaning e.g. toilet cleaners, soaps,


Temperature: (a physical property)

it affects physical, chemical and biological processes in water bodies and therefore a
concentration of many variables.

Solids: (chemical property, both organic and inorganic) these can be further classified as
suspended or dissolved.

 Suspended: these can be physically removed from the water by setting.

 Dissolved: these pose a big problem since they are difficult to observe. Hence
we find the micro-organisms. They can be organic or inorganic.

Odour: this is a result of chemical reactions taking place within the water body and releasing
gases. The main gases produced are methane and hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is
the one that causes the odour. Methane is useful as it is used for energy as biogas.

NB: pH is a chemical property that affects the biochemical processes.

Wastewater treatment basically depends on biochemical processes. We do not use any

chemicals in wastewater treatment. In wastewater treatment processes design, we are
simply designing a condition for these biochemical processes to occur and result in the
desirable biochemical reactions that cleanse the water.

Pathogens: these are micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses) that cause disease either through
ingestion or contact. When we test for pathogens in wastewater we look for what are called
coliforms. Coliforms are indicator organisms. They are also found in the soil and human
body. A large number/concentration of coliforms is a danger sign that there are many
harmful pathogens in the water.

Objectives of Wastewater Treatment

1. To protect the environment.
2. To protect human health.
3. So that we make water suitable for re-use so as to reduce the demand on the scarce
water resources.

Read on biochemical oxygen Demand (BOD Kinetics) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD
Kinetics). Look at

 Definitions of these terms

 Describe the laboratory tests to determine them
 Compare the differences between them

Wastewater Engineering (TCW 3104) t@kuz7

Personal addition
Definition of BOD: Quantity of oxygen utilised by a mixed population of microorganisms in the
aerobic oxidation of organic matter in a sample of wastewater at a temperature of 20oC.