Wastewater is basically used water that is put through a wastewater treatment process because it contains a very high volume of harmful bacteria and contaminants. This is an extremely important process because untreated wastewater can be detrimental to human health and also to the environment around us.
Wastewater from a domestic household is produced when a toilet is flushed, a shower is operated or when a tap is turned on. In industry, wastewater is produced in similar ways but it can also include pesticides or chemicals and is, of course, produced in much larger quantities.
The Importance of Wastewater Treatment
The primary aim of wastewater treatment is to rid wastewater of as much solid and semi-solid materials before the remaining water is discharged.
This remaining water is known as effluent and it is the (not entirely pleasant) by-product of the wastewater treatment process that is produced once wastewater has been disposed of and treated.
It is produced by each and every one of us and where it ends up has the potential to affect us all.
Where Does Effluent Go?
Generally speaking, effluent is returned to the general water cycle and environment by finding its way from treatment plants and sewers into bodies of water such as streams, rivers, lakes and, ultimately, the ocean.
This means that if processes to treat wastewater are not of a high enough standard, it can mean serious consequences for those waters by polluting them immeasurably and causing untold damage to marine life and wildlife.
In addition, it can have adverse effects on the water supply and affect humans, causing widespread disease and sickness.
When the soil around domestic waste water treatment systems fails to absorb wastewater, it can leave stagnant puddles of sludge on the surface of the ground. In such instances, humans that come into contact with these puddles can be exposed to pathogens that are dangerous so it’s a very serious matter.
Let’s put that into context. When it comes to drinking water, the amount of E. coli and coliform bacteria in it should be zero. In contrast, generally speaking, one litre of effluent contains over 1 million E. Coli bacteria.
As you can see, it’s vitally important that wastewater is treated properly and to a high standard. This is recognised at a national and European level as there are now standards in place to which wastewater must be treated and, by law, everyone must adhere to them.
How to Treat your Effluent
As a homeowner in Ireland, you’re responsible for maintaining your domestic waste water treatment system, as laid out by the Water Services Act.
When your waste water treatment system is correctly designed, fitted, and preserved, it will serve you for many years and not pose a threat to humans, animals or to the environment.
If you’re concerned that your system isn’t working properly and it needs to be serviced, take action straight away and get to the root cause of why it’s not operating as it should be.