We are all worried about global climate change and the environment and are doing our very best, or should be, to preserve the environment. Wastewater treatment plants and pumping treatments are playing a crucial role in environmental preservation. However, while they are a critical process, they do of course release emissions.
The pluses and minuses of wastewater treatment plants:
Thanks to the use of modern technologies wastewater treatment plants effectively clean our wastewater and as such minimise pollution in water. This includes pollutants such as nitrogen, organic matter, phosphorus and others.
An efficient properly working and maintained wastewater pumping treatment plant can produce less greenhouse gas, lower water bills and save energy.
Of course, wastewater treatment plants do have a negative impact too as they contribute to air pollution via greenhouse gas emissions, nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide. However, this is not all bad news as it is typically offset thanks to water being reused and energy recovery.
Evaluation of wastewater treatment plants:
To evaluate how wastewater treatment plants affect global climate change, life cycle assessments are used. This allows specialists to suggest options for improvements to plants.
The life cycle assessment analysis technique allows scientists and engineers to assess the environmental impacts in association with all stages of a product’s life. In this case, it includes from raw material extraction through to the processing of materials, the manufacture, distribution and use.
During the life cycle assessment study, several issues were addressed. These include burdens on the environment through human activities. An assessment of the inputs and outputs was made for the long-term adverse impact on the sustainability of non-renewable and renewable resources, biodiversity, human health and more.
There is also the Horizon 2020-funded project named C-FOOT-CTRL. This project developed a software tool for online monitoring of wastewater treatment plants and can predict and accurately record the emission of the gases along with picking the worst sources of inefficiency and pollution. It then provides suggestions where improvements may be made to reduce the carbon footprint.
The tool is valuable in monitoring how wastewater treatment plants impact global climate change and shows changes needed to be made. The software went through successful testing in the UK and Greece and mitigation strategies were developed after using the tool. The resulting impacts of the software will help with the fight against energy inefficiency and climate change.
Another benefit of decreasing the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment plants is the positive impact on water tariffs.
As wastewater treatment plants are such a huge necessity it is encouraging to know that the pros and cons do weigh up and that steps are being taken to improve the facilities and ensure they are working to better both the environment and the health of the public.
Where we would be without wastewater treatment plants:
There is no doubt that the environment and the health of the public would be at great risk without wastewater treatment plants.
The wastewater pumping treatments that are in place ensure a hygienic and safe way to get rid of our wastewater. Without this, both the public’s health and the environment would be at risk of disease and infection.
While we don’t give much thought to flushing the toilet and pouring things down the drain, it doesn’t just magically disappear; a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep the public and environment healthy.
Bear in mind that wastewater treatment plants allow the reuse of water. Without this, we would be constantly draining water supplies. Without treating water to make it reusable it would end up in the bodies of water we use and it would contain substances of great harm to humans and the environment including:
- Toxic chemicals;
- Heavy metals;
- Organic materials;
- Inorganic materials;
- Many others.
Any of these would pose a severe hazard to humans, wildlife and the environment as the substances would find their way into the soil, and this is soil that grows crops to eat. Consider the fact that each day billions of gallons of wastewater are produced and this has to be treated before going back into the environment or the consequences do not bear thinking about.
How wastewater treatment plants work to keep us and the environment safe
Thankfully, the wastewater treatment plants of today are complex and work well, using multiple technologies to ensure as much as 99% of pollutants in wastewater are removed.
Primary treatment of wastewater:
The first stage of reusing wastewater is the primary treatment stage. One of the primary treatments is the use of dissolved air flotation. This process effectively removes around 60% of organic loads and suspended solids. The wastewater is kept in holding tanks that allow any solids to settle down on the bottom of the tank to be collected. Any oils and fats float to the top and this can be scraped from the top. The remainder of the wastewater is sent to secondary treatment.
Secondary treatment of wastewater:
To further purify the wastewater a secondary treatment is made, which uses oxidation. Coagulant chemicals are used for the removal of further solids in wastewater. This also helps with softening lime, clarification of the water, solid dewatering and sludge thickening. This secondary treatment can remove over 90% of organic loads and suspended solids.
Tertiary treatment of wastewater:
The tertiary treatment of the wastewater is used to help to improve the quality of the effluent from the primary and secondary treatment processes. This treatment relies upon lagooning, sand filtration and nitrifying bacteria.
Disinfection is the final treatment:
The final treatment of the wastewater is disinfection. This last stage removes any odour and microbes from the water. The disinfection process is generally made up of using ozone, ultraviolet light or chlorine dioxide or a combination of them.
Once the water has been treated it may be reused in a wide variety of applications in the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Wastewater treatment plants allow for safe water recycling and keep costs down:
The rising climate crisis is a major concern and companies of today are embedding eco-friendly practices where possible.
One of these is managing water sustainably. Wastewater pumping treatments and plants allow for wastewater to be reused, which in turn maintains the public’s health, is good for the environment and helps to keep down costs.