Sewerage is the infrastructure that carries wastewater. Wastewater is produced through domestic and industrial use of water. In this wlog, we will follow our waste water, down our sinks, through the pipes and see where it ends up at and how it can affect our water cycle and environment.
Wastewater or Sewage is just various contaminants mixed in water. There is a wide range of contaminants that pollute our water; Based on these contaminants, water can be classified into two types. First being, grey water, it is water coming from our sinks, dishwashers, wash basins, etc. It is water used to wash hands, fruits and vegetables, to cook and to clean utensils. It is mixed with mild soaps, disinfectants and some amount of nutrients.
The second type is black water, this is the water coming from our toilets, bathrooms, industrial waste run offs. It contains hard chemicals, lots of nutrients and human feces with water.
After the removal of contaminants of from wastewater, it is safe to be released into the environment. However, 90 percent of wastewater is released without any kind of treatment. This causes problems like water pollution and spread of diseases. Biosolids that are removed from the contaminated water, also known as sludge, can be used as fertilizers. It is important to let the sludge dry completely before use, to avoid the risk of pathogenic infections. It is profitable for farmers to use wastewater or sewage directly for irrigation. However, if proper care is not taken this might lead to problems like ecotoxicity and eutrophication. Ecotoxicity is degradation of quality of soil, water, air due to the release of harmful chemicals and metals in the environment. These toxic substances could bio-magnify and enter our food and cause spread of diseases. Hence, it is important to clean the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or consuming them. One of the other threats, is that of eutrophication; It is the algal growth in water bodies due to addition of excess nutrients. These nutrients are added due to run off into the water bodies.
Thus, it is important to decontaminate the wastewater and treating it properly before introducing it back into our surroundings. In our country, we need more infrastructure of wastewater treatment plants. Many plants are currently not in working condition, this needs to be paid attention to and must be repaired. Communities can come to together to set up water treatment plants in their area. Solutions like biofilters, creating green roofs and various treatments can be used to decontaminate our water. Planting trees and restoring wetlands are most cost-effective ways to clean our water. It’s a law of ecology that everything must go somewhere. Thus, it is up to us, to ensure that our water flows freely, or it is choked with contamination.