An Introduction to Effluent Treatment

Clean water is a basic necessity. Historically, broad access to potable water was a critical step in improving public health. Water is also a fundamental component in many industrial processes. Its unique properties and easy availability make it an ideal substance for tasks that involve dissolving and washing.

To address public safety and broader environmental concerns, used water cannot go directly into natural waterways. Factories and municipalities must treat effluent water to remove impurities and hazardous substances. Adequate wastewater treatment is a multi-step process with variations that depend on the type of impurities present.

Preparing Wastewater Effluent

When used water flows toward a wastewater treatment plant, it carries a wide variety of solid matter. Household wastewater can include food particles, human waste, suspended fats and oils, and detergents. If stormwater runoff also leads to the treatment plant, it may contain trash, gasoline, and biomatter like fallen leaves.

The primary goal of a wastewater treatment plant is to produce clean effluent that can safely return to the environment. Wastewater passes through filter screens and sedimentation tanks to remove most of the solid debris. A secondary treatment like chlorine or exposure to UV light destroys harmful bacteria.

Treating Industrial Effluent

Water used in industrial processes often requires more advanced treatment than municipal wastewater. Chemical reactions may result in water that is highly acidic or alkaline. Industrial water is prone to carry heavy metals or other hazardous chemicals.

The level of treatment necessary depends on the destination for the industrial effluent. Water that goes into local waterways must meet strict environmental regulations. In addition to removing any solids, the plant water treatment facility must balance the pH level and remove toxins.

In some cases, industrial wastewater flows to a municipal wastewater treatment plant. This water may still need chemical treatments to balance the pH level, but it can contain solid impurities.

Types of Effluent Wastewater Treatments

Wastewater treatments like sedimentation have been around for centuries. Even ancient people recognized that if water was still, impurities sank to the bottom. Modern effluent wastewater treatments involve a combination of physical and chemical techniques.

Eliminating Toxins

Industrial wastewater can contain toxic chemicals. Ion exchange and reverse osmosis treatments can remove many of these dangerous substances. Activated charcoal adsorption is another cost-effective technique to improve water purity.

Balancing the pH

Healthy water requires a pH level that is near neutral. Most aquatic life can tolerate a pH range between 6.5 and 9.0. Effluent released with an unbalanced pH will destroy sensitive habitats. Facilities will treat the water with an environmentally-friendly acid or base to prevent this damage. Sodium carbonate is a standard solution for acidic water. The acetic acid in white vinegar can reduce the pH of alkaline water.

The Growing Importance of Treating Effluent Water

Changes in the climate continue to point to the effects of the human industry over time. With rising temperatures, water scarcity is becoming a severe issue. Dry regions of the earth are seeing droughts that last longer and stress water supplies. Producing clean, safe effluent from both local wastewater and industrial sources will be critical in years to come.

Clean wastewater effluent will also play a role in maintaining sensitive environments. As sea levels rise, coastal wetlands will protect cities by absorbing some of the force of incoming waves. Chemicals coming downstream from industrial sites harm these ecosystems and remove their natural protective ability. They also damage the incredible biodiversity found in these areas. 

Fortunately, we are in an era where implementing smart water technology and remote monitoring practices can help usher in a sustainable future for the collection, treatment, and distribution of water.

SCADA Technology and Effluent Treatment

Supervisory control and data acquisition system technology will improve an organization’s ability to monitor effluent purity. As water flows through the treatment process, sensors send real-time data about pH levels and other measurements of quality. For physical processes, the system will send alerts about flow rates and changes in water pressure. Managers can then adjust the system to maintain ideal treatment times.

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in cloud-based SCADA technology for water distribution and wastewater management systems. A well-designed system will provide consistent effluent water quality to meet regulations and promote environmental responsibility. Contact us today to learn more about how SCADA technology will improve your water treatment system.