Often when we flush the toilet or empty a kitchen or bathroom sink, we barely give any thought to what happens to the wastewater.
All the wastewater that results from sinks, baths, showers, toilets and washing machines needs to go somewhere and be dealt with.
So where does the sewage end up?
In truth, different countries have varying ways of dealing with sewage, but in the UK the norm is to treat it so that it can be reused.
First off, it’s important to point out that there are two types of sewage.
There is foul water sewage that results from waste coming from wash basins, sinks, baths, toilets etc.
And then there’s surface water sewage, which is rainwater carried away to soakaways, rivers and streams.
At times these types of sewage end up combining, and then sent for treatment.
However, newer systems aim to keep the two separate.
Treatment of sewage is becoming an increasingly popular option as more importance is being placed on safeguarding our environment.
Unless sewage is properly treated, the environment will get seriously damaged.
Untreated sewage contains organic matter as well as chemicals as well as a lot of bacteria.
While the naturally present bacteria in water helps to break down substances in sewage, a lot of oxygen is used during this process.
This will in turn be rendered available in smaller quantities to fish and other animals found in the water.
Whenever wastewater is flushed down the toilet or emptied from baths and sinks, it will basically flow down the pipes and go underground, where it reaches a large pipe system.
The sewage will then go through this network of pipes, until it reaches a sewage treatment plant.
Here the wastewater will undergo various treatments.
Following this, it can then be safely released in rivers and streams.
The release is regulated in a very strict manner by the Environmental Agency as it is of paramount importance that the water has attained high quality standards so that no harm is done to the environment.
This is an overview of what the sewage treatment process entails:
During the first stage the sewage gets cleaned.
Basically all large and foreign objects will be removed, otherwise the equipment which is used during the treatment process could end up getting damaged.
Large objects including wipes, nappies and sanitary products, which we all know should never be dumped down the drain are removed.
Sadly there are also other foreign objects that find their way in the sewers, including rags, paper, cans and plastic bags.
All such non-biodegradable items need to be removed during this initial phase, along with any debris and gravel.
Following this cleaning process, the sewage will contain human waste.
In order to remove this, the sewage will be placed in a settlement tank, also known as a sedimentation tank, where solids sink to the bottom.
In such a way the separation of the water from any solids found in it can be carried out.
The heavy particles of the solid waste will sink to the bottom and form a layer of sludge.
This will then need to be taken away for treatment, so that it can be used as plant fertiliser, in some cases by farmers and agricultural businesses.
Alternatively, it can be disposed of, or even used as an energy generator so that it can ultimately be turned into electricity!
At this stage there will be bad bacteria still present in the sewage.
In order to remove this bacteria and other particles, air will be pumped in large tanks so that the good bacteria manages to break down the bad bacteria.
This is a biological treatment which stimulates the good bacteria to thrive.
Finally, the good bacteria settles down into the base of the tanks.
Any remaining small waste particles are also removed at this point through a humus tank.
At this point the water will be clean and ready to be released safely back in the environment, such as in rivers and seas.
In truth, putting clean wastewater back in rivers and streams is of great importance since it helps to keep the water flowing as well as leading to a thriving wildlife.
Ultimately all sewage ends up following the same path down the drains and into the sewers that are buried below ground.
It then goes off for waste treatment where it undergoes screening and a rigorous process until it is safe to be disposed of.
Some countries actually use treated sewage to make energy.
Some even recycle it to make water that can be used in farms and factories.
There are even some countries which have managed to make recycled drinking water from treated sewage!
In rural areas and locations not connected to the main sewage system, many properties owners arrange their own sewage treatment plants installation.
So it’s quite impressive how technological advancements have changed how sewage can be treated and dealt with.
At KD drainage, we can design and install a localised sewage treatment plant to suit any needs.
For all questions and enquiries, contact us today for a chat and a no obligation quotation.
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