Wastewater is a term applied to any type of water that has been utilized in some capacity that negatively impacts the quality of the water. Common examples of wastewater include water that is discharged from households, office and retail buildings, and manufacturing plants. Wastewater may also refer to any water that is utilized in an agricultural facility and is no longer considered fit for human consumption.
The most common example of wastewater is liquid sewage. Discharged from homes and businesses alike, sewage usually contains a mixture of human waste, food remnants, water used in washing machines, and any other items that may have found their way into the sewage system. Many municipalities operate wastewater treatment plants that help to purify the sewage and recycle the water for other uses, such as watering lawns. The plant may employ many different devices to recycle the wastewater, including filters and chemical treatments.
Wastewater can also refer to groundwater that is contaminated due to a leaking septic tank or agents such as insecticide, petroleum products, blood, or cleaning liquids. Often, contaminated water can also be ran through the municipal filtration system and be prepared for use once again. However, the nature of the contaminants may require additional measures before the water is suitable for use once more.
Along with the use of chemicals to treat wastewater, the use of environmentally friendly methods are sometimes employed. Reed bed systems are one example. When utilized in wetlands that are either natural in origin or man made, this type of system can help to remove contaminants like soap and similar agents with relative ease, allowing the water to be reclaimed. However, many forms of wastewater today require heavy chemical treatments in order to remove harmful agents from the water and make it safe for further use.
In some homes, people sometimes take steps to recycle wastewater themselves. Water used for bathing may be collected and utilized for watering flower or vegetable gardens. The same is true with water used in the preparation of food. Any liquid used to boil pasta, for example, may be recycled as water for plants rather than dumping the used water into the sink.
Maintaining a fully functional water filtration plant is priority in most municipalities. Filtering and cleansing the water helps to minimize the chances for an outbreak of health issues related to infections and exposure to contaminants and essentially makes it possible for people to live in urbanized areas and still enjoy safe drinking water.