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sewage treatment:see septic tankseptic tank,
underground sedimentation tank in which sewage is retained for a short period while it is decomposed and purified by bacterial action. The organic matter in the sewage settles to the bottom of the tank, a film forms excluding atmospheric oxygen, and anaerobic
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system for the removal and disposal of chiefly liquid wastes and of rainwater, which are collectively called sewage. The average person in the industrialized world produces between 60 and 140 gallons of sewage per day.
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sewage treatment[′sü·ij ‚trēt·mənt]
Unit processes used to separate, modify, remove, and destroy objectionable, hazardous, and pathogenic substances carried by wastewater in solution or suspension in order to render the water fit and safe for intended uses. Treatment removes unwanted constituents without affecting or altering the water molecules themselves, so that wastewater containing contaminants can be converted to safe drinking water. Stringent water quality and effluent standards have been developed that require reduction of suspended solids (turbidity), biochemical oxygen demand (related to degradable organics), and coliform organisms (indicators of fecal pollution); control of pH as well as the concentration of certain organic chemicals and heavy metals; and use of bioassays to guarantee safety of treated discharges to the environment.
In all cases, the impurities, contaminants, and solids removed from all wastewater treatment processes must ultimately be collected, handled, and disposed of safely, without damage to humans or the environment.
Treatment processes are chosen on the basis of composition, characteristics, and concentration of materials present in solution or suspension. The processes are classified as pretreatment, preliminary, primary, secondary, or tertiary treatment, depending on type, sequence, and method of removal of the harmful and unacceptable constituents. Pretreatment processes equalize flows and loadings, and precondition wastewaters to neutralize or remove toxics and industrial wastes that could adversely affect sewers or inhibit operations of publicly owned treatment works. Preliminary treatment processes protect plant mechanical equipment; remove extraneous matter such as grit, trash, and debris; reduce odors; and render incoming sewage more amenable to subsequent treatment and handling. Primary treatment employs mechanical and physical unit processes to separate and remove floatables and suspended solids and to prepare wastewater for biological treatment. Secondary treatment utilizes aerobic microorganisms in biological reactors to feed on dissolved and colloidal organic matter. As these microorganisms reduce biochemical oxygen demand and turbidity (suspended solids), they grow, multiply, and form an organic floc, which must be captured and removed in final settling tanks. Tertiary treatment, or advanced treatment, removes specific residual substances, trace organic materials, nutrients, and other constituents that are not removed by biological processes. Most advanced wastewater treatment systems include denitrification and ammonia stripping, carbon adsorption of trace organics, and chemical precipitation. Evaporation, distillation, electrodialysis, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, freeze drying, freeze-thaw, floatation, and land application, with particular emphasis on the increased use of natural and constructed wetlands, are being studied and utilized as methods for advanced wastewater treatment to improve the quality of the treated discharge to reduce unwanted effects on the receiving environment. See Absorption, Sewage, Sewage disposal
On-site sewage treatment for individual homes or small institutions uses septic tanks, which provide separation of solids in a closed, buried unit. Effluent is discharged to subsurface absorption systems. See Septic tank, Unit processes, Water treatment