Wastewater Management Systems: How they work

Wastewater Management Systems: How they work

Water that has already been used and is no longer fit to be used again is called wastewater and Wastewater Management Systems help us purify the wastewater. Daily human activities like brushing, bathing, using the toilet, cooking, cleaning, etc. produce wastewater. Industries using water for their processes also produce wastewater. No matter what the source is, it is important to treat wastewater before releasing it into the water bodies. Wastewater management is the process by which water that is no longer usable is treated to remove toxins, bacteria, particulates, etc., making it safe to be released into the environment.

Wastewater usually contains 99.9 percent water by weight and 0.1 percent waste that needs to be removed. The waste is usually dominated by organic matter, germs (even dangerous pathogens), particulates and dissolved solids, chemicals like ammonia and nitrate, and, of course, it has a bad odour. If left untreated, wastewater will find its way back to the surface or to the water bodies and will get back into circulation. This, in turn, can pose a serious health risk for the general population.

There are two main methods of treating wastewater: chemical or physical, and biological processes. Biological plants use certain bacteria to treat waste, whereas chemical plants use physical processes and chemicals to eliminate contaminants.

How do wastewater systems work?

Improvement in technology has allowed wastewater management systems to evolve and advance. Today, many companies, like Reflections Wastewater Systems, offer state-of-the-art systems to suit every need. Here is a brief explanation of how wastewater is treated:


In the first stage, wastewater enters the treatment chamber where it flows through a screen. In this ‘pre-treatment’ phase, all large solid items like bottles, plastics, branches, etc. are removed. Next, it is sent to the grit chamber where smaller particles like sand, glass, small stones, etc. settle to the bottom. At this stage, some treatment plants skim grease and other oils from the surface of the water by turning them into froth using air blowers.

Primary Wastewater Treatment:

At this point, wastewater still contains organic and inorganic matter along with some solids. The pre-treated wastewater is sent to a number of basins and tanks for further clarification. This separates the contaminants from water, allowing them to settle at the bottom of the tank as ‘sludge’. This ‘sludge’ is processed further in a ‘digester’. At this point, about half of solid waste, organic matter and germs are eliminated. Oils and grease will also be removed now if they haven’t already been removed. Some systems will have no further stages, and the water will be treated with chlorine to kill bacteria and odour and discharged. The solids will be removed and dumped in a landfill.

Secondary Wastewater Treatment:

Water is moved to an aerated tank where plants and beneficial microorganisms are added to break down the organic compounds in the sludge. This happens over several hours. This activated sludge is used again to treat fresh sludge in the aeration tank, or it is sent to another tank where it is disinfected which kills any remaining pathogenic bacteria.

Tertiary Wastewater Treatment:

In some systems, this is the final stage where treated water is sent to yet another tank where more sludge settles at the bottom of the tank. Nitrates and phosphates are removed from the water; it is disinfected with chlorine and sent back into circulation. The resulting solid ‘sludge’ from this stage is treated to be used as fertilizer or to produce methane that can power the plant.

Of course, wastewater management systems could use many more processes than these three, but the basics of treating the water remain the same.

What is Wastewater Management and why is it needed?

What is Wastewater Management and why is it needed?

Around 71 percent of Earth’s surface is covered with water, yet, only 2.5 percent of this is available as freshwater. Of this, only 0.007 percent is available for human consumption. The amount of freshwater has remained approximately the same through the centuries, but as the human population exploded, the number of people depending on this finite resource has also grown. This has caused a severe water crisis in many parts of the world.

Of course, water is an absolute necessity for life, which makes it even more important to conserve this precious resource. One way to manage water resources is through wastewater management.

What is wastewater management?

Very simply put, wastewater management is the process by which wastewater, which has been used and cannot be utilised further, is released back into the environment after it is treated. Bathing, using the toilet, rainwater runoff, industrial processes, etc. produce a lot of wastewater. At this stage, it is brimming with bacteria, chemicals, and other toxic pollutants. The aim of wastewater management is to treat this water to eliminate all harmful toxins and germs and make it safe to be released back into the environment.

Wastewater management systems can either use chemical or biological treatment plants. Chemical waste management plants use chemical or physical processes to treat wastewater, whereas biological treatment plans employ bacteria to do this task. While most households use biological systems, industries usually rely on chemical or physical systems to treat their wastewater.

Why is wastewater management important?

There is limited freshwater available for use by humans. While water scarcity is not an immediate issue in most developed countries, many developing nations are facing a shortage of potable water. New Zealand’s water resources are not in immediate danger; however, making it available in the right place at the right time is a challenge. A recent report by New Zealand’s Ministry of Environment stated that human activity is “significantly” affecting the quality and quantity of freshwater in the country. Water shortage might be an abstract concept for most right now, but it is a reality many places around the world, including California in the United States of America, are facing at the moment. Here are a few reasons why wastewater management is important:

1)    Water conservation in homes:

We use a lot of water on a daily basis. Our daily activities like bathing, brushing teeth, washing clothes and dishes, etc. produce a lot of wastewater. This water has to be properly treated before it is let back into the water bodies. If it is released untreated, it could contaminate fresh water sources and disrupt ecosystems.   

2)    Sustainable development:

Freshwater resources will face increased stress in the future as the world population continues to grow. In fact, a UN report has revealed that the world will only have 60 percent of its total water needs by 2030. Therefore, it has become crucial that water is recycled wherever and whenever possible. The recycled water should not pose a threat to public health hence wastewater management is essential to ensure sustainable development.

3)    Reduced stress on freshwater bodies: 

Less than 1 percent of water is available as fresh water, and our resources are already stressed with the present demand. This means every drop of water is precious and we cannot afford to waste it. By properly treating wastewater that is generated by homes and industries, we can contribute towards reducing complete dependency on freshwater resources. 

We need to be more mindful of how we use water and in our approach to conserving it. Water conservation and management efforts need to be doubled, with each person taking responsibility for this resource in their vicinity. Wastewater management is one of the ways we can ensure we are taking care and unburdening our water resources.

With more than 3000 wastewater systems treating in excess of 2.5 million litres of wastewater every day throughout the region, our track record speaks for itself.

Contact Us

© 2019 - Reflection. Website Maintenance by My Engine Lab