You must have heard of the popular saying—Water is the elixir of life. And this elixir is getting scarce even as we talk about it. Our ever-increasing population coupled with poor wastewater management might just lead us to a time where we may run out of drinking water. And this is the reason why we need to efficiently manage and monitor every source of water, including wastewater.
Wastewater is the water that’s drained out from factories, restaurants, and homes etc. Although wastewater is unusable, we shouldn’t waste it. Wastewater management is crucial, especially in today’s world. A significant chunk of our population still does not have access to clean water, which is their civic right. And by effectively the treating wastewater, we can at least reuse water and play our part in water conservation. First, let’s understand why wastewater treatment is necessary.
Importance of Wastewater Treatment Facilities
India is vast country. And we are rapidly progressing towards being a developed nation in our own right. But hygiene and cleanliness continue to remain issues that we need to collectively tackle, especially in terms of water management. As natural sources of water such as lakes, ponds, and groundwater are now reducing, we have to recycle and reuse water. And water pollution now is a threat not only to us but also to our vibrant marine life.
Industrial waste and sewage are the two major types of wastewater. While nature itself is capable of treating natural waste, industrial waste is our doing and we need to own up to it. Unchecked wastewater and water contamination can ultimately lead to lack of drinking water, chronic health problems, soil pollution, reduction in groundwater levels, and so on. Hence, wastewater treatment is now no longer an option.
Now that you understand how important treating wastewater is, let’s understand one of its major components—sewage. Sewage water is wastewater that comes from restaurants, offices, hospitals, homes, and so on. Modern housing today has a well-connected network of pipes. One set of these pipes bring us good, clean water and the other set drains out the sewage water.
Now this sewage water contains a lot of germs, chemicals, and harmful substances called pollutants. The drains and sewers that we see on the roads contain this sewage water. And it is our responsibility to ensure that this sewage network connects to a water treatment facility. Now, let’s understand how a wastewater treatment facility works and what we can do to ensure water doesn’t get more polluted than it already is.
Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Today, we have several wastewater treatment facilities that are designed to filter and clean the water before they enter the main water sources such as lakes and rivers. And these facilities remove the physical, chemical, and biological pollutants from the wastewater.
In a treatment facility, the wastewater first passes through a bar screen, which removes the big garbage items such as plastic bottles, rags, and cans. The wastewater then flows into a grit and sand removal tank. After the sand and grit settle, the wastewater then flows into a large tank that is sloped towards the middle. This slope, once again, allows the solid waste or sludge to settle down at the bottom. This settled sludge is then scraped off and sent to a biogas unit or used as organic manure.
The sludge-free water then passes through a skimmer machine, which skims substances such as oil and grease from the water. Then, the water passes through an aerator, which pumps air into the water and enables aerobic bacteria to grow. Finally, the treated water is released into the natural water bodies.
Garbage Segregation and Sanitation
Now that you understand how important and extensive wastewater treatment is, let’s see what we can do to reduce the load. To begin with, as active citizens, it is our responsibility to efficiently segregate garbage and waste. Although we cannot completely eliminate waste, we can at least reduce the pollutants and toxins by segregating waste effectively.
Next, we should spread the awareness against public defecation, which is a huge problem in India. Open defecation on railway tracks, public places, roads, and dry riverbeds can cause diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid, and Meningitis to name a few.
Another important step that we can take as responsible citizens is to stop littering. Many of us litter plastic bags and cans on the road. If there is no dustbin in sight, the least we can do is carry this dry waste with us and dispose the same in the dustbin at home.
Solved Question for You
Identify whether the following argument is true or false.
“Sewage mostly consists of natural waste and there is nothing we can do to reduce this kind of pollution. Nature itself is capable of treating natural waste.”
Correct Answer: B. While we cannot eliminate natural waste, we can reduce further contamination by segregating garbage. We can also spread awareness against open defecation and stop littering in public places.