Sewage treatment
Overview
 
Sewage treatment, or domestic wastewater treatment, is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater
Wastewater
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...

 and household sewage
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

, both runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

 (effluents) and domestic. It includes physical, chemical, and biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Its objective is to produce an environmentally-safe fluid waste stream (or treated effluent
Effluent
Effluent is an outflowing of water or gas from a natural body of water, or from a human-made structure.Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “wastewater - treated or untreated - that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers...

) and a solid waste (or treated sludge
Sludge
Sludge refers to the residual, semi-solid material left from industrial wastewater, or sewage treatment processes. It can also refer to the settled suspension obtained from conventional drinking water treatment, and numerous other industrial processes...

) suitable for disposal or reuse (usually as farm fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

).
Encyclopedia
Sewage treatment, or domestic wastewater treatment, is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater
Wastewater
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...

 and household sewage
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

, both runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

 (effluents) and domestic. It includes physical, chemical, and biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Its objective is to produce an environmentally-safe fluid waste stream (or treated effluent
Effluent
Effluent is an outflowing of water or gas from a natural body of water, or from a human-made structure.Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “wastewater - treated or untreated - that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers...

) and a solid waste (or treated sludge
Sludge
Sludge refers to the residual, semi-solid material left from industrial wastewater, or sewage treatment processes. It can also refer to the settled suspension obtained from conventional drinking water treatment, and numerous other industrial processes...

) suitable for disposal or reuse (usually as farm fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

). Using advanced technology it is now possible to re-use sewage effluent for drinking water, although Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 is the only country to implement such technology on a production scale in its production of NEWater
NEWater
NEWater is the brand name given to reclaimed water produced by Singapore's Public Utilities Board. More specifically, it is treated wastewater that has been purified using dual-membrane and ultraviolet technologies, in addition to conventional water treatment processes...

.

Origins of sewage

Sewage is generated by residential, institutional, and commercial and industrial establishments. It includes household waste liquid from toilet
Toilet
A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory...

s, baths
Bathing
Bathing is the washing or cleansing of the body in a fluid, usually water or an aqueous solution. It may be practised for personal hygiene, religious ritual or therapeutic purposes or as a recreational activity....

, shower
Shower
A shower is an area in which one bathes underneath a spray of water.- History :...

s, kitchen
Kitchen
A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking and food preparation.In the West, a modern residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator and kitchen cabinets arranged according to a modular design. Many households have a...

s, sink
Sink
A sink is a bowl-shaped plumbing fixture used for washing hands, for dishwashing or other purposes. Sinks generally have taps that supply hot and cold water and may include a spray feature to be used for faster rinsing...

s and so forth that is disposed of via sewer
Sanitary sewer
A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater...

s. In many areas, sewage also includes liquid waste from industry and commerce. The separation and draining of household waste into greywater
Greywater
Greywater is wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands...

 and blackwater
Blackwater (waste)
Blackwater is a term dating to at least the 1970s used to describe wastewater containing fecal matter and urine. It is also known as brown water, foul water, or sewage...

 is becoming more common in the developed world, with greywater being permitted to be used for watering plants or recycled for flushing toilets.

Sewage may include stormwater
Stormwater
Stormwater is water that originates during precipitation events. It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt that enters the stormwater system...

 runoff. Sewerage
Sewerage
Sewerage refers to the infrastructure that conveys sewage. It encompasses receiving drains, manholes, pumping stations, storm overflows, screening chambers, etc. of the sanitary sewer...

 systems capable of handling stormwater are known as combined systems. Combined sewer systems are usually avoided now because precipitation causes widely varying flows reducing sewage treatment plant efficiency. Combined sewers require much larger and more expensive treatment facilities than sanitary sewer
Sanitary sewer
A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater...

s. Heavy storm runoff may overwhelm the sewage treatment system, causing a spill or overflow. Sanitary sewers are typically much smaller than combined sewers, and they are not designed to transport stormwater. Backups of raw sewage can occur if excessive Infiltration/Inflow
Infiltration/Inflow
Infiltration/Inflow causes dilution in sanitary sewers. Dilution of sewage decreases the efficiency of treatment, and may cause sewage volumes to exceed design capacity. Although inflow is technically different from infiltration, it may be difficult to determine which is causing dilution problems...

 is allowed into a sanitary sewer system.

Modern sewered developments tend to be provided with separate storm drain
Storm drain
A storm drain, storm sewer , stormwater drain or drainage well system or simply a drain or drain system is designed to drain excess rain and ground water from paved streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and roofs. Storm drains vary in design from small residential dry wells to large municipal systems...

 systems for rainwater. As rainfall travels over roofs and the ground, it may pick up various contaminants including soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 particles and other sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

, heavy metals
Heavy metals
A heavy metal is a member of a loosely-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties. It mainly includes the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides. Many different definitions have been proposed—some based on density, some on atomic number or atomic weight,...

, organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

s, animal waste, and oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 and grease
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

. (See urban runoff
Urban runoff
Urban runoff is surface runoff of rainwater created by urbanization. This runoff is a major source of water pollution in many parts of the United States and other urban communities worldwide.-Overview:...

.)
Some jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s require stormwater to receive some level of treatment before being discharged directly into waterways. Examples of treatment processes used for stormwater include retention basin
Retention basin
A retention basin is used to manage stormwater runoff to prevent flooding and downstream erosion, and improve water quality in an adjacent river, stream, lake or bay. Sometimes called a wet pond or wet detention basin, it is an artificial lake with vegetation around the perimeter, and includes a...

s, wetlands
Constructed wetland
A constructed wetland or wetpark is an artificial wetland, marsh or swamp created as a new or restored habitat for native and migratory wildlife, for anthropogenic discharge such as wastewater, stormwater runoff, or sewage treatment, for land reclamation after mining, refineries, or other...

, buried vaults
Stormwater detention vault
A stormwater detention vault is an underground structure designed to manage excess stormwater runoff on a developed site, often in an urban setting...

 with various kinds of media filter
Media filter
A media filter is a type of filter that uses a bed of sand, crushed granite or other material to filter water for drinking, swimming pools, aquaculture, irrigation, stormwater management and other applications.-Filter Design:...

s, and vortex separators
Hydrodynamic separator
Hydrodynamic separators are stormwater management devices used to control water pollution. They are designed as flow-through structures with a settling or separation unit to remove sediment and other pollutants...

 (to remove coarse solids).

Process overview

Sewage can be treated close to where it is created, a decentralised system, (in septic tank
Septic tank
A septic tank is a key component of the septic system, a small-scale sewage treatment system common in areas with no connection to main sewage pipes provided by local governments or private corporations...

s, biofilters or aerobic treatment system
Aerobic treatment system
An aerobic treatment system or ATS, often called an aerobic septic system is a small scale sewage treatment system similar to a septic tank system, but which uses an aerobic process for digestion rather than just the anaerobic process used in septic systems...

s), or be collected and transported via a network of pipes and pump stations to a municipal treatment plant, a centralised system, (see sewerage
Sanitary sewer
A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater...

 and pipes and infrastructure
Sewage collection and disposal
Sewage collection and disposal systems transport sewage through cities and other inhabited areas to sewage treatment plants to protect public health and prevent disease. Sewage is treated to control water pollution before discharge to surface waters....

). Sewage collection and treatment is typically subject to local, state and federal regulations and standards. Industrial sources of wastewater often require specialized treatment processes (see Industrial wastewater treatment
Industrial wastewater treatment
Industrial wastewater treatment covers the mechanisms and processes used to treat waters that have been contaminated in some way by anthropogenic industrial or commercial activities prior to its release into the environment or its re-use....

).

Sewage treatment generally involves three stages, called primary, secondary and tertiary treatment.
  • Primary treatment consists of temporarily holding the sewage in a quiescent basin where heavy solids can settle to the bottom while oil, grease and lighter solids float to the surface. The settled and floating materials are removed and the remaining liquid may be discharged or subjected to secondary treatment.
  • Secondary treatment removes dissolved and suspended biological matter. Secondary treatment is typically performed by indigenous
    Indigenous (ecology)
    In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

    , water-borne micro-organisms in a managed habitat. Secondary treatment may require a separation process to remove the micro-organisms from the treated water prior to discharge or tertiary treatment.
  • Tertiary treatment is sometimes defined as anything more than primary and secondary treatment in order to allow rejection into a highly sensitive or fragile ecosystem (estuaries, low-flow rivers, coral reefs,...). Treated water is sometimes disinfected chemically or physically (for example, by lagoons and microfiltration
    Microfiltration
    Microfiltration is a membrane technical filtration process which removes contaminants from a fluid by passage through a microporous membrane. A typical microfiltration membrane pore size range is 0.1 to 10 micrometres...

    ) prior to discharge into a stream
    Stream
    A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

    , river
    River
    A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

    , bay
    Bay
    A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight...

    , lagoon
    Lagoon
    A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

     or wetland
    Wetland
    A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

    , or it can be used for the irrigation
    Irrigation
    Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

     of a golf course, green way or park. If it is sufficiently clean, it can also be used for groundwater recharge or agricultural purposes.

Process Flow Diagram
Process Flow diagram
A process flow diagram is a diagram commonly used in engineering to indicate the general flow of plant processes and equipment.The PFD displays the relationship between major equipment of a plant facility and does not show minor details such as piping details and designations...

 for a typical large-scale treatment plant



Process Flow Diagram
Process Flow diagram
A process flow diagram is a diagram commonly used in engineering to indicate the general flow of plant processes and equipment.The PFD displays the relationship between major equipment of a plant facility and does not show minor details such as piping details and designations...

 for a typical treatment plant via Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetlands (SFCW)



Pre-treatment

Pre-treatment removes materials that can be easily collected from the raw waste water before they damage or clog the pumps and skimmers of primary treatment clarifiers (trash, tree limbs, leaves, etc.).

Screening

The influent sewage water is screened to remove all large objects like cans, rags, sticks, plastic packets etc. carried in the sewage stream. This is most commonly done with an automated mechanically raked bar screen in modern plants serving large populations, whilst in smaller or less modern plants a manually cleaned screen may be used. The raking action of a mechanical bar screen is typically paced according to the accumulation on the bar screens and/or flow rate. The solids are collected and later disposed in a landfill or incinerated. Bar screens or mesh screens of varying sizes may be used to optimize solids removal. If gross solids are not removed they become entrained in pipes and moving parts of the treatment plant and can cause substantial damage and inefficiency in the process.

Grit removal

Pre-treatment may include a sand or grit channel or chamber where the velocity of the incoming wastewater is adjusted to allow the settlement of sand, grit, stones, and broken glass. These particles are removed because they may damage pumps and other equipment. For small sanitary sewer systems, the grit chambers may not be necessary, but grit removal is desirable at larger plants.

Flow equalization

Clarifiers and mechanized secondary treatment are more efficient under uniform flow conditions. Equalization basins may be used for temporary storage of diurnal or wet-weather flow peaks. Basins provide a place to temporarily hold incoming sewage during plant maintenance and a means of diluting and distributing batch discharges of toxic or high-strength waste which might otherwise inhibit biological secondary treatment (including portable toilet waste, vehicle holding tanks, and septic tank pumpers). Flow equalization basins require variable discharge control, typically include provisions for bypass and cleaning, and may also include aerators. Cleaning may be easier if the basin is downstream of screening and grit removal.

Fat and grease removal

In some larger plants, fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 and grease
Grease (lubricant)
The term grease is used to describe semisolid lubricants. Although the word grease is also used to describe rendered fat of animals, in the context of lubrication, grease typically applies to a material consisting of a soap emulsified with mineral or vegetable oil...

 is removed by passing the sewage through a small tank where skimmers collect the fat floating on the surface. Air blowers in the base of the tank may also be used to help recover the fat as a froth. Many plants, however, use primary clarifiers with mechanical surface skimmers for fat and grease removal.

Primary treatment

In the primary sedimentation
Sedimentation (water treatment)
Sedimentation is a physical water treatment process used to settle out suspended solids in water under the influence of gravity.-Basics:Suspended solids , is the mass of dry solids retained by a filter of a given porosity related to the volume of the water sample...

 stage, sewage flows through large tanks, commonly called "primary clarifiers" or "primary sedimentation tanks." The tanks are used to settle sludge while grease and oils rise to the surface and are skimmed off. Primary settling tanks are usually equipped with mechanically driven scrapers that continually drive the collected sludge towards a hopper in the base of the tank where it is pumped to sludge treatment facilities. Grease and oil from the floating material can sometimes be recovered for saponification
Saponification
Saponification is a process that produces soap, usually from fats and lye. In technical terms, saponification involves base hydrolysis of triglycerides, which are esters of fatty acids, to form the sodium salt of a carboxylate. In addition to soap, such traditional saponification processes...

.

The dimensions of the tank should be designed to effect removal of a high percentage of the floatables and sludge. A typical sedimentation tank may remove from 50 to 70 percent of suspended solids
Suspended solids
Suspended solids refers to small solid particles which remain in suspension in water as a colloid or due to the motion of the water. It is used as one indicator of water quality....

, and from 30 to 35 percent of biochemical oxygen demand
Biochemical oxygen demand
Biochemical oxygen demand or B.O.D. is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period. The term also refers to a chemical procedure for...

 (BOD) from the sewage.

Secondary treatment

Secondary treatment is designed to substantially degrade the biological content of the sewage which are derived from human waste, food waste, soaps and detergent. The majority of municipal plants treat the settled sewage liquor using aerobic biological processes. To be effective, the biota
Biota (ecology)
Biota are the total collection of organisms of a geographic region or a time period, from local geographic scales and instantaneous temporal scales all the way up to whole-planet and whole-timescale spatiotemporal scales. The biota of the Earth lives in the biosphere.-See...

 require both oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 and food to live. The bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 and protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

 consume biodegradable soluble organic contaminants (e.g. sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

s, fats, organic short-chain carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 molecules, etc.) and bind much of the less soluble fractions into floc
Flocculation
Flocculation, in the field of chemistry, is a process wherein colloids come out of suspension in the form of floc or flakes by the addition of a clarifying agent. The action differs from precipitation in that, prior to flocculation, colloids are merely suspended in a liquid and not actually...

. Secondary treatment systems are classified as fixed-film or suspended-growth systems.
  • Fixed-film or attached growth systems include trickling filter
    Trickling filter
    A trickling filter consists of a fixed bed of rocks, lava, coke, gravel, slag, polyurethane foam, sphagnum peat moss, ceramic, or plastic media over which sewage or other wastewater flows downward and causes a layer of microbial slime to grow, covering the bed of media...

    s, biotowers, and rotating biological contactor
    Rotating biological contactor
    A rotating biological contactor or RBC is a biological treatment process used in the treatment of wastewater following primary treatment. The primary treatment process removes the grit and other solids through a screening process followed by a period of settlement...

    s, where the biomass grows on media and the sewage passes over its surface. The fixed-film principal has further developed into Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBR), and Integrated Fixed-Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) processes. An MBBR system typically requires smaller footprint than suspended-growth systems. (Black & Veatch)
  • Suspended-growth systems include activated sludge
    Activated sludge
    Activated sludge is a process for treating sewage and industrial wastewaters using air and a biological floc composed of bacteria and protozoans.-Purpose:...

    , where the biomass is mixed with the sewage and can be operated in a smaller space than trickling filters that treat the same amount of water. However, fixed-film systems are more able to cope with drastic changes in the amount of biological material and can provide higher removal rates for organic material and suspended solids than suspended growth systems.


Roughing filter
Roughing filter
Roughing filters provide pretreatment for turbid water or simple, low maintenance treatment when high water quality is not needed.- External links :...

s are intended to treat particularly strong or variable organic loads, typically industrial, to allow them to then be treated by conventional secondary treatment processes. Characteristics include filters filled with media to which wastewater is applied. They are designed to allow high hydraulic loading and a high level of aeration. On larger installations, air is forced through the media using blowers. The resultant wastewater is usually within the normal range for conventional treatment processes.

A filter removes a small percentage of the suspended organic matter, while the majority of the organic matter undergoes a change of character, only due to the biological oxidation and nitrification taking place in the filter. With this aerobic oxidation and nitrification, the organic solids are converted into coagulated suspended mass, which is heavier and bulkier, and can settle to the bottom of a tank. The effluent of the filter is therefore passed through a sedimentation tank, called a secondary clarifier, secondary settling tank or humus tank.

Activated sludge

In general, activated sludge plants encompass a variety of mechanisms and processes that use dissolved oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 to promote the growth of biological floc that substantially removes organic material.

The process traps particulate material and can, under ideal conditions, convert ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 to nitrite
Nitrite
The nitrite ion has the chemical formula NO2−. The anion is symmetric with equal N-O bond lengths and a O-N-O bond angle of ca. 120°. On protonation the unstable weak acid nitrous acid is produced. Nitrite can be oxidised or reduced, with product somewhat dependent on the oxidizing/reducing agent...

 and nitrate
Nitrate
The nitrate ion is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO and a molecular mass of 62.0049 g/mol. It is the conjugate base of nitric acid, consisting of one central nitrogen atom surrounded by three identically-bonded oxygen atoms in a trigonal planar arrangement. The nitrate ion carries a...

 ultimately to nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 gas. (See also denitrification
Denitrification
Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products....

).


Surface-aerated basins (Lagoons)

Many small municipal sewage systems in the United States (1 million gal./day or less) use aerated lagoons.

Most biological oxidation processes for treating industrial wastewaters have in common the use of oxygen (or air) and microbial action. Surface-aerated basins achieve 80 to 90 percent removal of BOD with retention times of 1 to 10 days. The basins may range in depth from 1.5 to 5.0 metres and use motor-driven aerators floating on the surface of the wastewater.

In an aerated basin system, the aerators provide two functions: they transfer air into the basins required by the biological oxidation reactions, and they provide the mixing required for dispersing the air and for contacting the reactants (that is, oxygen, wastewater and microbes). Typically, the floating surface aerators are rated to deliver the amount of air equivalent to 1.8 to 2.7 kg O2
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

/kW·h
Watt-hour
The kilowatt hour, or kilowatt-hour, is a unit of energy equal to 1000 watt hours or 3.6 megajoules.For constant power, energy in watt hours is the product of power in watts and time in hours...

. However, they do not provide as good mixing as is normally achieved in activated sludge systems and therefore aerated basins do not achieve the same performance level as activated sludge units.

Biological oxidation processes are sensitive to temperature and, between 0 °C and 40 °C, the rate of biological reactions increase with temperature. Most surface aerated vessels operate at between 4 °C and 32 °C.

Constructed wetlands

Constructed wetland
Constructed wetland
A constructed wetland or wetpark is an artificial wetland, marsh or swamp created as a new or restored habitat for native and migratory wildlife, for anthropogenic discharge such as wastewater, stormwater runoff, or sewage treatment, for land reclamation after mining, refineries, or other...

s (can either be surface flow or subsurface flow, horizontal or vertical flow), include engineered reedbeds and belong to the family of phytorestoration and ecotechnologies; they provide a high degree of biological improvement and depending on design, act as a primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary treatment, also see phytoremediation
Phytoremediation
Phytoremediation Phytoremediation Phytoremediation (from the Ancient Greek , and Latin (restoring balance or remediation) describes the treatment of environmental problems (bioremediation) through the use of plants that mitigate the environmental problem without the need to excavate the...

. One example is a small reedbed used to clean the drainage from the elephant
Elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

s' enclosure at Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo is a zoological garden at Upton-by-Chester, in Cheshire, England. It was opened in 1931 by George Mottershead and his family, who used as a basis some animals reported to have come from an earlier zoo in Shavington. It is one of the UK's largest zoos at...

 in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

; numerous CWs are used to recycle the water of the city of Honfleur in France and numerous other towns in Europe, the US, Asia and Australia. They are known to be highly productive systems as they copy natural wetlands, called the "Kidneys of the earth" for their fundamental recycling capacity of the hydrological cycle in the biosphere. Robust and reliable, their treatment capacities improve as time go by, at the opposite of conventional treatment plants whose machinery age with time. They are being increasingly used, although adequate and experienced design are more fundamental than for other systems and space limitation may impede their use.

Filter beds (oxidizing beds)

In older plants and those receiving variable loadings, trickling filter
Trickling filter
A trickling filter consists of a fixed bed of rocks, lava, coke, gravel, slag, polyurethane foam, sphagnum peat moss, ceramic, or plastic media over which sewage or other wastewater flows downward and causes a layer of microbial slime to grow, covering the bed of media...

 beds are used where the settled sewage liquor is spread onto the surface of a bed made up of coke
Coke (fuel)
Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes from coal are grey, hard, and porous. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made.- History :...

 (carbonized coal), limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 chips or specially fabricated plastic media. Such media must have large surface areas to support the biofilms that form. The liquor is typically distributed through perforated spray arms. The distributed liquor trickles through the bed and is collected in drains at the base. These drains also provide a source of air which percolates up through the bed, keeping it aerobic. Biological films of bacteria, protozoa and fungi form on the media’s surfaces and eat or otherwise reduce the organic content. This biofilm
Biofilm
A biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms in which cells adhere to each other on a surface. These adherent cells are frequently embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance...

 is often grazed by insect larvae, snails, and worms which help maintain an optimal thickness. Overloading of beds increases the thickness of the film leading to clogging of the filter media and ponding on the surface. Recent advances in media and process micro-biology design overcome many issues with Trickling filter designs.

Soil bio-technology

A new process called soil bio-technology (SBT) developed at IIT Bombay
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay , popularly known as IIT Bombay or IITB, is a public research university located in Powai, Mumbai...

 has shown tremendous improvements in process efficiency enabling total water reuse, due to extremely low operating power requirements of less than 50 joules per kg of treated water. Typically SBT systems can achieve chemical oxygen demand
Chemical oxygen demand
In environmental chemistry, the chemical oxygen demand test is commonly used to indirectly measure the amount of organic compounds in water. Most applications of COD determine the amount of organic pollutants found in surface water or wastewater, making COD a useful measure of water quality...

 (COD) levels less than 10 mg/L from sewage input of COD 400 mg/L. SBT plants exhibit high reductions in COD values and bacterial counts as a result of the very high microbial densities available in the media. Unlike conventional treatment plants, SBT plants produce insignificant amounts of sludge, precluding the need for sludge disposal areas that are required by other technologies.

In the Indian context, conventional sewage treatment plants fall into systemic disrepair due to 1) high operating costs, 2) equipment corrosion due to methanogenesis and hydrogen sulphide, 3) non-reusability of treated water due to high COD (>30 mg/L) and high fecal coliform (>3000 NFU) counts, 4) lack of skilled operating personnel and 5) equipment replacement issues. Examples of such systemic failures has been documented by Sankat Mochan Foundation
Sankat Mochan Foundation
Sankat Mochan Foundation is a non-governmental organization devoted to cleaning the pollution of the Ganges and protecting the Ganges river in India...

 at the Ganges basin after a massive cleanup effort by the Indian government in 1986 by setting up sewage treatment plants under the Ganga Action Plan failed to improve river water quality.

Biological aerated filters

Biological Aerated (or Anoxic) Filter (BAF) or Biofilters combine filtration with biological carbon reduction, nitrification
Nitrification
Nitrification is the biological oxidation of ammonia with oxygen into nitrite followed by the oxidation of these nitrites into nitrates. Degradation of ammonia to nitrite is usually the rate limiting step of nitrification. Nitrification is an important step in the nitrogen cycle in soil...

 or denitrification. BAF usually includes a reactor filled with a filter
Filter (water)
A water filter removes impurities from water by means of a fine physical barrier, a chemical process or a biological process. Filters cleanse water to various extents for irrigation, drinking water, aquariums, and swimming pools.-Methods of filtration:...

 media. The media is either in suspension or supported by a gravel layer at the foot of the filter. The dual purpose of this media is to support highly active biomass that is attached to it and to filter suspended solids. Carbon reduction and ammonia conversion occurs in aerobic mode and sometime achieved in a single reactor while nitrate conversion occurs in anoxic
Hypoxia (environmental)
Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, is a phenomenon that occurs in aquatic environments as dissolved oxygen becomes reduced in concentration to a point where it becomes detrimental to aquatic organisms living in the system...

 mode. BAF is operated either in upflow or downflow configuration depending on design specified by manufacturer.

Rotating biological contactors

Rotating biological contactors (RBCs) are mechanical secondary treatment systems, which are robust and capable of withstanding surges in organic load. RBCs were first installed in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1960 and have since been developed and refined into a reliable operating unit. The rotating disks support the growth of bacteria and micro-organisms present in the sewage, which break down and stabilise organic pollutants. To be successful, micro-organisms need both oxygen to live and food to grow. Oxygen is obtained from the atmosphere as the disks rotate. As the micro-organisms grow, they build up on the media until they are sloughed off due to shear forces provided by the rotating discs in the sewage. Effluent from the RBC is then passed through final clarifiers where the micro-organisms in suspension settle as a sludge. The sludge is withdrawn from the clarifier for further treatment.

A functionally similar biological filtering system has become popular as part of home aquarium
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

 filtration and purification. The aquarium water is drawn up out of the tank and then cascaded over a freely spinning corrugated fiber-mesh wheel before passing through a media filter and back into the aquarium. The spinning mesh wheel develops a biofilm
Biofilm
A biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms in which cells adhere to each other on a surface. These adherent cells are frequently embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance...

 coating of microorganisms that feed on the suspended wastes in the aquarium water and are also exposed to the atmosphere as the wheel rotates. This is especially good at removing waste urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

 and ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 urinated into the aquarium water by the fish and other animals.

Membrane bioreactors

Membrane bioreactor
Membrane bioreactor
Membrane bioreactor is the combination of a membrane process like microfiltration or ultrafiltration with a suspended growth bioreactor, and is now widely used for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment with plant sizes up to 80,000 population equivalent Membrane bioreactor (MBR) is the...

s (MBR) combine activated sludge treatment with a membrane
Membrane technology
The membrane technology covers all process engineering measures for the transport of substances between two fractions with the help of permeable membranes...

 liquid-solid separation process. The membrane component uses low pressure microfiltration
Microfiltration
Microfiltration is a membrane technical filtration process which removes contaminants from a fluid by passage through a microporous membrane. A typical microfiltration membrane pore size range is 0.1 to 10 micrometres...

 or ultrafiltration
Ultrafiltration
Ultrafiltration is a variety of membrane filtration in which hydrostatic pressure forces a liquid against a semipermeable membrane. Suspended solids and solutes of high molecular weight are retained, while water and low molecular weight solutes pass through the membrane...

 membranes and eliminates the need for clarification and tertiary filtration. The membranes are typically immersed in the aeration tank; however, some applications utilize a separate membrane tank. One of the key benefits of an MBR system is that it effectively overcomes the limitations associated with poor settling of sludge in conventional activated sludge
Activated sludge
Activated sludge is a process for treating sewage and industrial wastewaters using air and a biological floc composed of bacteria and protozoans.-Purpose:...

 (CAS) processes. The technology permits bioreactor operation with considerably higher mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) concentration than CAS systems, which are limited by sludge settling. The process is typically operated at MLSS in the range of 8,000–12,000 mg/L, while CAS are operated in the range of 2,000–3,000 mg/L. The elevated biomass concentration in the MBR process allows for very effective removal of both soluble and particulate biodegradable materials at higher loading rates. Thus increased sludge retention times, usually exceeding 15 days, ensure complete nitrification even in extremely cold weather.

The cost of building and operating an MBR is usually higher than conventional wastewater treatment. Membrane filters can be blinded with grease or abraded by suspended grit and lack a clarifier's flexibility to pass peak flows. The technology has become increasingly popular for reliably pretreated waste streams and has gained wider acceptance where infiltration and inflow have been controlled, however, and the life-cycle costs have been steadily decreasing. The small footprint of MBR systems, and the high quality effluent produced, make them particularly useful for water reuse applications.

Secondary sedimentation

The final step in the secondary treatment stage is to settle out the biological floc or filter material through a secondary clarifier and to produce sewage water containing low levels of organic material and suspended matter.

Tertiary treatment

The purpose of tertiary treatment is to provide a final treatment stage to raise the effluent quality before it is discharged to the receiving environment (sea, river, lake, ground, etc.). More than one tertiary treatment process may be used at any treatment plant. If disinfection is practiced, it is always the final process. It is also called "effluent polishing."

Filtration

Sand filtration
Sand filter
Sand filters are used for water purification. There are three main types;# rapid sand filters# upflow sand filters# slow sand filtersAll three methods are used extensively in the water industry throughout the world...

 removes much of the residual suspended matter. Filtration over activated carbon
Activated carbon
Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.The word activated in the name is sometimes replaced...

, also called carbon adsorption, removes residual toxin
Toxin
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...

s.

Lagooning

Lagooning provides settlement and further biological improvement through storage in large man-made ponds or lagoons. These lagoons are highly aerobic and colonization by native macrophyte
Macrophyte
A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submergent, or floating. In lakes macrophytes provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates, produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife....

s, especially reeds, is often encouraged. Small filter feeding invertebrate
Invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...

s such as Daphnia
Daphnia
Daphnia are small, planktonic crustaceans, between 0.2 and 5 mm in length. Daphnia are members of the order Cladocera, and are one of the several small aquatic crustaceans commonly called water fleas because of their saltatory swimming style...

and species of Rotifera greatly assist in treatment by removing fine particulates.

Nutrient removal

Wastewater may contain high levels of the nutrients nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 and phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

. Excessive release to the environment can lead to a build up of nutrients, called eutrophication
Eutrophication
Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

, which can in turn encourage the overgrowth of weeds, algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

, and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). This may cause an algal bloom
Algal bloom
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration...

, a rapid growth in the population of algae. The algae numbers are unsustainable and eventually most of them die. The decomposition of the algae by bacteria uses up so much of oxygen in the water that most or all of the animals die, which creates more organic matter for the bacteria to decompose. In addition to causing deoxygenation, some algal species produce toxins that contaminate drinking water
Drinking water
Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually...

 supplies. Different treatment processes are required to remove nitrogen and phosphorus.
Nitrogen removal

The removal of nitrogen is effected through the biological oxidation
Redox
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 of nitrogen from ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 to nitrate
Nitrate
The nitrate ion is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO and a molecular mass of 62.0049 g/mol. It is the conjugate base of nitric acid, consisting of one central nitrogen atom surrounded by three identically-bonded oxygen atoms in a trigonal planar arrangement. The nitrate ion carries a...

 (nitrification
Nitrification
Nitrification is the biological oxidation of ammonia with oxygen into nitrite followed by the oxidation of these nitrites into nitrates. Degradation of ammonia to nitrite is usually the rate limiting step of nitrification. Nitrification is an important step in the nitrogen cycle in soil...

), followed by denitrification
Denitrification
Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products....

, the reduction of nitrate to nitrogen gas. Nitrogen gas is released to the atmosphere and thus removed from the water.

Nitrification itself is a two-step aerobic process, each step facilitated by a different type of bacteria. The oxidation of ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2) is most often facilitated by Nitrosomonas spp. (nitroso referring to the formation of a nitroso
Nitroso
Nitroso refers to a functional group in organic chemistry which has the general formula RNO. Nitroso compounds are a class of organic compounds containing the nitroso functional group, R−N=O....

 functional group). Nitrite oxidation to nitrate (NO3), though traditionally believed to be facilitated by Nitrobacter spp. (nitro referring the formation of a nitro functional group), is now known to be facilitated in the environment almost exclusively by Nitrospira spp.

Denitrification requires anoxic conditions to encourage the appropriate biological communities to form. It is facilitated by a wide diversity of bacteria. Sand filters, lagooning and reed beds can all be used to reduce nitrogen, but the activated sludge process (if designed well) can do the job the most easily. Since denitrification is the reduction of nitrate to dinitrogen gas, an electron donor
Electron donor
An electron donor is a chemical entity that donates electrons to another compound. It is a reducing agent that, by virtue of its donating electrons, is itself oxidized in the process....

 is needed. This can be, depending on the wastewater, organic matter (from faeces), sulfide
Sulfide
A sulfide is an anion of sulfur in its lowest oxidation state of 2-. Sulfide is also a slightly archaic term for thioethers, a common type of organosulfur compound that are well known for their bad odors.- Properties :...

, or an added donor like methanol
Methanol
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

. The sludge in the anoxic tanks (denitrification tanks) must be mixed well (mixture of recirculated mixed liquor, return activated sludge [RAS], and raw influent) e.g. by using submersible mixer
Submersible mixer
A submersible mixer is a mechanical device that is used to mix sludge tanks and other liquid volumes. Submersible mixers are often used in sewage treatment plants to keep solids in suspension in the various process tanks and/or sludge holding tanks....

s in order to achieve the desired denitrification.

Sometimes the conversion of toxic ammonia to nitrate alone is referred to as tertiary treatment.

Many sewage treatment plants use axial flow pump
Axial flow pump
An axial flow pump, or AFP, is a common type of pump that essentially consists of a propeller in a pipe. The propeller can be driven directly by a sealed motor in the pipe or mounted to the pipe from the outside or by a right-angle drive shaft that pierces the pipe.The main advantage of an AFP is...

s to transfer the nitrified mixed liquor from the aeration zone to the anoxic zone for denitrification. These pumps are often referred to as Internal Mixed Liquor Recycle (IMLR) pumps.
Phosphorus removal

Each person excretes between 200 and 1000 grams of phosphorus annually. Studies of United States sewage in the late 1960s estimated mean per capita contributions of 500 grams in urine and feces, 1000 grams in synthetic detergents, and lesser variable amounts used as corrosion and scale control chemicals in water supplies. Source control via alternative detergent formulations has subsequently reduced the largest contribution, but the content of urine and feces will remain unchanged. Phosphorus removal is important as it is a limiting nutrient for algae growth in many fresh water systems. (For a description of the negative effects of algae, see Nutrient removal). It is also particularly important for water reuse systems where high phosphorus concentrations may lead to fouling of downstream equipment such as reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis is a membrane technical filtration method that removes many types of large molecules and ions from solutions by applying pressure to the solution when it is on one side of a selective membrane. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and...

.

Phosphorus can be removed biologically in a process called enhanced biological phosphorus removal
Enhanced biological phosphorus removal
Enhanced biological phosphorus removal is a wastewater treatment configuration applied to activated sludge systems for the removal of phosphate....

. In this process, specific bacteria, called polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs), are selectively enriched and accumulate large quantities of phosphorus within their cells (up to 20 percent of their mass). When the biomass enriched in these bacteria is separated from the treated water, these biosolids have a high fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 value.

Phosphorus removal can also be achieved by chemical precipitation
Precipitation (chemistry)
Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside anothersolid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the precipitate, or when compacted by a centrifuge, a pellet. The liquid remaining above the solid...

, usually with salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

s of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 (e.g. ferric chloride), aluminum (e.g. alum
Alum
Alum is both a specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds. The specific compound is the hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate with the formula KAl2.12H2O. The wider class of compounds known as alums have the related empirical formula, AB2.12H2O.-Chemical properties:Alums are...

), or lime. This may lead to excessive sludge production as hydroxides precipitates and the added chemicals can be expensive. Chemical phosphorus removal requires significantly smaller equipment footprint than biological removal, is easier to operate and is often more reliable than biological phosphorus removal. Another method for phosphorus removal is to use granular laterite.

Once removed, phosphorus, in the form of a phosphate-rich sludge, may be stored in a land fill or resold for use in fertilizer.

Disinfection

The purpose of disinfection
Disinfection
Disinfectants are substances that are applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, especially nonresistant bacterial spores; it is less effective than sterilisation, which is an extreme physical...

 in the treatment of waste water is to substantially reduce the number of microorganism
Microorganism
A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters, or no cell at all...

s in the water to be discharged back into the environment for the later use of drinking, bathing, irrigation, etc. The effectiveness of disinfection depends on the quality of the water being treated (e.g., cloudiness, pH, etc.), the type of disinfection being used, the disinfectant dosage (concentration and time), and other environmental variables. Cloudy water will be treated less successfully, since solid matter can shield organisms, especially from ultraviolet light or if contact times are low. Generally, short contact times, low doses and high flows all militate against effective disinfection. Common methods of disinfection include ozone
Ozone
Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

, chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

, ultraviolet light, or sodium hypochlorite. Chloramine
Chloramine
Chloramines are derivatives of ammonia by substitution of one, two or three hydrogen atoms with chlorine atoms. Monochloramine is an inorganic compound with the formula NH2Cl. It is an unstable colourless liquid at its melting point of -66° temperature, but it is usually handled as a dilute...

, which is used for drinking water, is not used in waste water treatment because of its persistence. After multiple steps of disinfection, the treated water is ready to be released back into the water cycle by means of the nearest body of water or agriculture. Afterwards, the water can be transferred to reserves for everyday human uses.

Chlorination
Chlorination
Chlorination is the process of adding the element chlorine to water as a method of water purification to make it fit for human consumption as drinking water...

 remains the most common form of waste water disinfection in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 due to its low cost and long-term history of effectiveness. One disadvantage is that chlorination of residual organic material can generate chlorinated-organic compounds that may be carcinogenic or harmful to the environment. Residual chlorine or chloramines may also be capable of chlorinating organic material in the natural aquatic environment. Further, because residual chlorine is toxic to aquatic species, the treated effluent must also be chemically dechlorinated, adding to the complexity and cost of treatment.

Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 (UV) light can be used instead of chlorine, iodine, or other chemicals. Because no chemicals are used, the treated water has no adverse effect on organisms that later consume it, as may be the case with other methods. UV radiation causes damage to the gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

tic structure of bacteria, virus
Virus
A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

es, and other pathogen
Pathogen
A pathogen gignomai "I give birth to") or infectious agent — colloquially, a germ — is a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, prion, or fungus that causes disease in its animal or plant host...

s, making them incapable of reproduction. The key disadvantages of UV disinfection are the need for frequent lamp maintenance and replacement and the need for a highly treated effluent to ensure that the target microorganisms are not shielded from the UV radiation (i.e., any solids present in the treated effluent may protect microorganisms from the UV light). In the United Kingdom, UV light is becoming the most common means of disinfection because of the concerns about the impacts of chlorine in chlorinating residual organics in the wastewater and in chlorinating organics in the receiving water. Some sewage treatment systems in Canada and the US also use UV light for their effluent water disinfection.

Ozone
Ozone
Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

 (3) is generated by passing oxygen (2) through a high voltage
Voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

 potential resulting in a third oxygen atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

 becoming attached and forming 3. Ozone is very unstable and reactive and oxidizes most organic material it comes in contact with, thereby destroying many pathogenic microorganisms. Ozone is considered to be safer than chlorine because, unlike chlorine which has to be stored on site (highly poisonous in the event of an accidental release), ozone is generated onsite as needed. Ozonation also produces fewer disinfection by-products than chlorination. A disadvantage of ozone disinfection is the high cost of the ozone generation equipment and the requirements for special operators.

Odor control

Odors emitted by sewage treatment are typically an indication of an anaerobic or "septic" condition. Early stages of processing will tend to produce foul smelling gases, with hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of expired eggs perceptible at concentrations as low as 0.00047 parts per million...

 being most common in generating complaints. Large process plants in urban areas will often treat the odors with carbon reactors, a contact media with bio-slimes, small doses of chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

, or circulating fluids to biologically capture and metabolize the obnoxious gases. Other methods of odor control exist, including addition of iron salts, hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

, calcium nitrate
Calcium nitrate
Calcium nitrate, also called Norgessalpeter , is the inorganic compound with the formula Ca2. This colourless salt absorbs moisture from the air and is commonly found as a tetrahydrate. It is mainly used as a component in fertilizers but is found other applications...

, etc. to manage hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of expired eggs perceptible at concentrations as low as 0.00047 parts per million...

 levels.
High-density solids pumps are suitable to reduce odors by conveying sludge through hermetic closed pipework.

Package plants and batch reactors

To use less space, treat difficult waste and intermittent flows, a number of designs of hybrid treatment plants have been produced. Such plants often combine at least two stages of the three main treatment stages into one combined stage. In the UK, where a large number of wastewater treatment plants serve small populations, package plants are a viable alternative to building a large structure for each process stage. In the US, package plants are typically used in rural areas, highway rest stops and trailer parks.

One type of system that combines secondary treatment and settlement is the sequencing batch reactor
Sequencing batch reactor
Sequencing batch reactors or sequential batch reactors are industrial processing tanks for the treatment of wastewater. SBR reactors treat waste water such as sewage or output from anaerobic digesters or mechanical biological treatment facilities in batches...

 (SBR). Typically, activated sludge is mixed with raw incoming sewage, and then mixed and aerated. The settled sludge is run off and re-aerated before a proportion is returned to the headworks. SBR plants are now being deployed in many parts of the world.

The disadvantage of the SBR process is that it requires a precise control of timing, mixing and aeration. This precision is typically achieved with computer controls linked to sensors. Such a complex, fragile system is unsuited to places where controls may be unreliable, poorly maintained, or where the power supply may be intermittent. Extended aeration
Extended aeration
Extended aeration is a method of sewage treatment using modified activated sludge procedures. It is preferred for relatively small waste loads, where lower operating efficiency is offset by mechanical simplicity.-Conventional sewage treatment:...

 package plants use separate basins for aeration and settling, and are somewhat larger than SBR plants with reduced timing sensitivity.

Package plants may be referred to as high charged or low charged. This refers to the way the biological load is processed. In high charged systems, the biological stage is presented with a high organic load and the combined floc and organic material is then oxygenated for a few hours before being charged again with a new load. In the low charged system the biological stage contains a low organic load and is combined with flocculate for longer times.

Sludge treatment and disposal

The sludges accumulated in a wastewater treatment process must be treated and disposed of in a safe and effective manner. The purpose of digestion is to reduce the amount of organic matter
Organic matter
Organic matter is matter that has come from a once-living organism; is capable of decay, or the product of decay; or is composed of organic compounds...

 and the number of disease-causing microorganism
Microorganism
A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters, or no cell at all...

s present in the solids. The most common treatment options include anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy....

, aerobic digestion, and composting. Incineration
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 is also used albeit to a much lesser degree.

Sludge treatment depends on the amount of solids generated and other site-specific conditions. Composting is most often applied to small-scale plants with aerobic digestion for mid sized operations, and anaerobic digestion for the larger-scale operations.

Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion is a bacterial process that is carried out in the absence of oxygen. The process can either be thermophilic
Thermophile
A thermophile is an organism — a type of extremophile — that thrives at relatively high temperatures, between 45 and 122  °C . Many thermophiles are archaea...

digestion, in which sludge is fermented
Fermentation (biochemistry)
Fermentation is the process of extracting energy from the oxidation of organic compounds, such as carbohydrates, using an endogenous electron acceptor, which is usually an organic compound. In contrast, respiration is where electrons are donated to an exogenous electron acceptor, such as oxygen,...

 in tanks at a temperature of 55°C, or mesophilic
Mesophile
A mesophile is an organism that grows best in moderate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, typically between 25 and 40 °C...

, at a temperature of around 36°C. Though allowing shorter retention time (and thus smaller tanks), thermophilic digestion is more expensive in terms of energy consumption for heating the sludge.

Anaerobic digestion is the most common (mesophilic) treatment of domestic sewage in septic tanks, which normally retain the sewage from one day to two days, reducing the BOD by about 35 to 40 percent. This reduction can be increased with a combination of anaerobic and aerobic treatment by installing Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) in the septic tank.

One major feature of anaerobic digestion is the production of biogas
Biogas
Biogas typically refers to a gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Organic waste such as dead plant and animal material, animal dung, and kitchen waste can be converted into a gaseous fuel called biogas...

 (with the most useful component being methane
Methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

), which can be used in generators for electricity production and/or in boilers for heating purposes.

Aerobic digestion

Aerobic
Aerobic organism
An aerobic organism or aerobe is an organism that can survive and grow in an oxygenated environment.Faculitative anaerobes grow and survive in an oxygenated environment and so do aerotolerant anaerobes.-Glucose:...

 digestion is a bacterial process occurring in the presence of oxygen. Under aerobic conditions, bacteria rapidly consume organic matter and convert it into carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

. The operating costs used to be characteristically much greater for aerobic digestion because of the energy used by the blowers, pumps and motors needed to add oxygen to the process.

Aerobic digestion can also be achieved by using diffuser systems
Diffuser (sewage)
An air diffuser or membrane diffuser is an aeration device typically in the shape of a disc, tube or plate, which is used to transfer air and with that oxygen into sewage or industrial wastewater. Oxygen is required by microorganisms/bacteria residents in the water to break down the pollutants...

 or jet aerators
Jet aerators
A jet aerator is an aspirating device, which is used to aerate liquid such as water, sewage, sludge, manure, leachate, etc. The jet aerator works by the principle of venturi effect and the liquid is typically supplied by a centrifugal chopper pump...

 to oxidize the sludge. Fine bubble diffusers are typically the more cost-efficient diffusion method, however, plugging is typically a problem due to sediment settling into the smaller air holes. Coarse bubble diffusers are more commonly used in activated sludge tanks (generally a side process in waste water management) or in the flocculation stages. A key component for selecting diffuser type is to ensure it will produce the required oxygen transfer rate.

Composting

Composting is also an aerobic process that involves mixing the sludge with sources of carbon such as sawdust, straw or wood chips. In the presence of oxygen, bacteria digest both the wastewater solids and the added carbon source and, in doing so, produce a large amount of heat.

Incineration

Incineration
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 of sludge is less common because of air emissions concerns and the supplemental fuel (typically natural gases or fuel oil) required to burn the low calorific value sludge and vaporize residual water. Stepped multiple hearth incinerators
with high residence time
Residence time
Residence time is the average amount of time that a particle spends in a particular system. This measurement varies directly with the amount of substance that is present in the system....

 and fluidized bed
Fluidized bed combustion
Fluidized bed combustion is a combustion technology used in power plants. Fluidized beds suspend solid fuels on upward-blowing jets of air during the combustion process. The result is a turbulent mixing of gas and solids. The tumbling action, much like a bubbling fluid, provides more effective...

 incinerators are the most common systems used to combust wastewater sludge. Co-firing in municipal waste-to-energy
Waste-to-energy
Waste-to-energy or energy-from-waste is the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of waste source. WtE is a form of energy recovery...

 plants is occasionally done, this option being less expensive
assuming the facilities already exist for solid waste and there is no need for auxiliary fuel.

Sludge disposal

When a liquid sludge is produced, further treatment may be required to make it suitable for final disposal. Typically, sludges are thickened (dewatered) to reduce the volumes transported off-site for disposal. There is no process which completely eliminates the need to dispose of biosolids. There is, however, an additional step some cities are taking to superheat sludge and convert it into small pelletized granules that are high in nitrogen and other organic materials. In New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, for example, several sewage treatment plants have dewatering facilities that use large centrifuges along with the addition of chemicals such as polymer to further remove liquid from the sludge. The removed fluid, called centrate, is typically reintroduced into the wastewater process. The product which is left is called "cake" and that is picked up by companies which turn it into fertilizer pellets. This product is then sold to local farmers and turf farms as a soil amendment or fertilizer, reducing the amount of space required to dispose of sludge in landfills. Much sludge originating from commercial or industrial areas is contaminated with toxic materials that are released into the sewers from the industrial processes. Elevated concentrations of such materials may make the sludge unsuitable for agricultural use and it may then have to be incinerated or disposed of to landfill.

Treatment in the receiving environment

Many processes in a wastewater treatment plant are designed to mimic the natural treatment processes that occur in the environment, whether that environment is a natural water body or the ground. If not overloaded, bacteria in the environment will consume organic contaminants, although this will reduce the levels of oxygen in the water and may significantly change the overall ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 of the receiving water. Native bacterial populations feed on the organic contaminants, and the numbers of disease-causing microorganisms are reduced by natural environmental conditions such as predation or exposure to ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 radiation. Consequently, in cases where the receiving environment provides a high level of dilution, a high degree of wastewater treatment may not be required. However, recent evidence has demonstrated that very low levels of specific contaminants in wastewater, including hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s (from animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 and residue from human hormonal contraception
Hormonal contraception
Hormonal contraception refers to birth control methods that act on the endocrine system. Almost all methods are composed of steroid hormones, although in India one selective estrogen receptor modulator is marketed as a contraceptive. The original hormonal method—the combined oral contraceptive...

 methods) and synthetic materials such as phthalates that mimic hormones in their action, can have an unpredictable adverse impact on the natural biota and potentially on humans if the water is re-used for drinking water. In the US and EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, uncontrolled discharges of wastewater to the environment are not permitted under law, and strict water quality requirements are to be met, as clean drinking water is essential. (For requirements in the US, see Clean Water Act.) A significant threat in the coming decades will be the increasing uncontrolled discharges of wastewater within rapidly developing countries.

Effects on Biology

Sewage treatment plants can have multiple effects on nutrient levels in the water that the treated sewage flows into. These effects on nutrients can have large effects on the biological life in the water in contact with the effluent.
Stabilization pond
Stabilization pond
Stabilization pond technology - sometimes also called facultative pond technology - is a natural method for wastewater treatment.-Technology:Stabilization ponds consist of shallow man-made basins comprising a single or several series of anaerobic, facultative or maturation ponds...

s (or treatment ponds) can include any of the following:
  • Oxidation ponds, which are aerobic bodies of water usually 1–2 meters in depth that receive effluent from sedimentation tanks or other forms of primary treatment.
  • Dominated by algae
    Algae
    Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

  • Polishing ponds are similar to oxidation ponds but receive effluent from an oxidation pond or from a plant with an extended mechanical treatment.
  • Dominated by zooplankton
    Zooplankton
    Zooplankton are heterotrophic plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter"...

  • Facultative lagoon
    Facultative lagoon
    Facultative lagoons are a type of stabilization pond used for biological treatment of industrial and domestic wastewater. Sewage or organic waste from food or fiber processing may be catabolized in a system of constructed ponds where adequate space is available to provide an average waste...

    s, raw sewage lagoons, or sewage lagoons are ponds where sewage is added with no primary treatment other than coarse screening. These ponds provide effective treatment when the surface remains aerobic; although anaerobic conditions may develop near the layer of settled sludge on the bottom of the pond.
  • Anaerobic lagoons are heavily loaded ponds.
  • Dominated by bacteria
    Bacteria
    Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

  • Sludge lagoons are aerobic ponds, usually 2–5 meters in depth, that receive anaerobically digested primary sludge, or activated secondary sludge under water.
  • Upper layers are dominated by algae


Phosphorus limitation is a possible result from sewage treatment and results in flagellate-dominated plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

, particularly in summer and fall.

At the same time a different study found high nutrient concentrations linked to sewage effluents. High nutrient concentration leads to high chlorophyll a
Chlorophyll a
Chlorophyll a is a specific form of chlorophyll used in oxygenic photosynthesis. It absorbs most energy from wavelengths of violet-blue and orange-red light. This photosynthetic pigment is essential for photosynthesis in eukaryotes, cyanobacteria and prochlorophytes because of its role as primary...

 concentrations, which is a proxy for primary production in marine environments. High primary production means high phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

 populations and most likely high zooplankton populations because zooplankton feed on phytoplankton. However, effluent released into marine systems also leads to greater population instability.

A study done in Britain found that the quality of effluent affected the planktonic life in the water in direct contact with the wastewater effluent. Turbid, low-quality effluents either did not contain ciliated protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

 or contained only a few species in small numbers. On the other hand, high-quality effluents contained a wide variety of ciliated protozoa in large numbers. Due to these findings, it seems unlikely that any particular component of the industrial effluent has, by itself, any harmful effects on the protozoan populations of activated sludge plants.

The planktonic trends of high populations close to input of treated sewage is contrasted by the bacterial trend. In a study of Aeromonas
Aeromonas
Aeromonas is a gram-negative, facultative anaerobic rod that morphologically resembles members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Fourteen species of Aeromonas have been described, most of which have been associated with human diseases. The most important pathogens are A. hydrophila, A. caviae, and...

spp. in increasing distance from a wastewater source, greater change in seasonal cycles was found the furthest from the effluent. This trend is so strong that the furthest location studied actually had an inversion of the Aeromonas spp. cycle in comparison to that of fecal coliforms
Fecal coliforms
A fecal coliform is a facultatively-anaerobic, rod-shaped, gram-negative, non-sporulating bacterium. Fecal coliforms are capable of growth in the presence of bile salts or similar surface agents, are oxidase negative, and produce acid and gas from lactose within 48 hours at 44 ± 0.5°C.Coliform...

. Since there is a main pattern in the cycles that occurred simultaneously at all stations it indicates seasonal factors (temperature, solar radiation, phytoplankton) control of the bacterial population. The effluent dominant species changes from Aeromonas caviae in winter to Aeromonas sobria in the spring and fall while the inflow dominant species is Aeromonas caviae, which is constant throughout the seasons.

Sewage treatment in developing countries

Few reliable figures on the share of the wastewater collected in sewers that is being treated in the world exist. In many developing countries the bulk of domestic and industrial wastewater is discharged without any treatment or after primary treatment only. In Latin America about 15% of collected wastewater passes through treatment plants (with varying levels of actual treatment). In Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, a below average country in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 with respect to wastewater treatment, 97 percent of the country’s sewage
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

 is discharged raw into the environment. In a relatively developed Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern country such as Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, the majority of Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

's population has totally untreated sewage injected to the city’s groundwater. However now the construction of major parts of the sewage system, collection and treatment, in Tehran is almost complete, and under development, due to be fully completed by the end of 2012. In Isfahan, Iran's third largest city, sewage treatment was started more than 100 years ago.

In Israel, about 50 percent of agricultural water usage (total use was 1 billion cubic metres in 2008) is provided through reclaimed sewer water. Future plans call for increased use of treated sewer water as well as more desalination plants.

Most of sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 is without wastewater treatment.

See also

  • Composting toilet
    Composting toilet
    A composting toilet is a dry toilet that using a predominantly aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, via composting or managed aerobic decomposition...

  • Waste disposal
  • Water pollution
    Water pollution
    Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

  • Water reclamation
    Water reclamation
    Water reclamation is a process by which wastewater from homes and businesses is cleaned using biological and chemical treatment so that the water can be returned to the environment safely to augment the natural systems from which it came...

  • In situ oxidation
  • Environmental Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutant
    Environmental persistent pharmaceutical pollutant
    The term Environmental Pharmaceutical Persistent Pollutant , was suggested in the nomination 2010 of pharmaceuticals and environment as an emerging issue to Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management by the International Society of Doctors for the Environment .Pharmaceuticals are...

    EPPP

External links

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