The Effects of Wastewater on Water Quality

Every organism depends on a clean water supply for survival. Human beings use billions of gallons every day. After use, wastewater can carry harmful chemicals and bacteria that damage the environment. Proper treatment is necessary to prevent wastewater problems.

Clean Water and Wastewater

Many substances will dissolve in water, so wastewater naturally absorbs chemicals during daily use. The force of rushing water also pulls undissolved solids and oils in its flow. Every time it rains, the runoff from the drainage system contains impurities such as motor oil.

Household sewage in water brings chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus into the water stream. These powerful fertilizers disrupt the ecological balance in natural water sources.

Wastewater Problems in Urban Areas

Population density makes water and wastewater collection and distribution challenging in urban areas. These regions may need help keeping up with the demand for clean water.

At the same time, such areas may have insufficient resources for adequate water pollution treatments. Wastewater may flow directly into local water resources, where it can cause permanent environmental damage. A lack of treatment contributes to the release of dissolved chemicals into the local ground and air. Wastewater pollution can cause the spread of illness when bacteria from dirty water infect the local water supply.

Wastewater Pollution and Natural Resources

Growth in industrial agriculture creates another issue for the water quality of natural water resources. Farmers use fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus to increase their yields. Field runoff contains large quantities of these chemicals that make their way into water resources.

Standard water pollution treatments do not remove these chemicals, so their concentrations increase in water bodies that receive effluent from treatment plants. The presence of these substances creates favorable conditions for eutrophication.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients water plants need for growth. Water bodies experiencing eutrophication will see abundant aquatic plant life and algae blooms. As the ecosystem changes, other organisms will have difficulty finding the resources they need to thrive, leading to species loss.

Common Water Pollution Treatments

Water treatment systems around the world use a similar series of processes. These steps remove a wide range of impurities.


Using filters removes many undissolved impurities. Large screens capture solids like litter or improperly flushed hygiene products. The water treatment plant must periodically clear the filters to maintain the water flow.

Reverse osmosis is a more advanced filtering technique. Using membrane technology, the water treatment plant can remove molecular impurities. However, the cost of the process makes it impractical for many large-scale operations.


Gravity is another tool commonly used in water treatment. In many facilities, water flows into settling ponds where smaller undissolved impurities like sand particles sink to the bottom to form a sludge. Clean water then flows to the next step.


A forced mixing of air, water, and beneficial bacteria in aeration tanks speeds up the natural biodegradation of organic impurities. Adding oxygen to the water flow also improves the quality as it heads to local water resources.


Disinfection (such as chlorination) is the final step in some water treatment plants. This process kills microorganisms, making the water safer for its return to the water cycle. For many decades, chlorine has been the primary choice for this step. However, non-chemical processes such as UV treatment are growing in popularity.

The Critical Role of Wastewater Treatment Plants

Wastewater treatment plants will play a critical role in maintaining the clean water supply as more regions deal with water shortages. In some places, these facilities will not only have to make water safe for returning to the local environment, but they will also have to produce potable water for redistribution. Investing in plants now is an important step in preventing wastewater problems in the future.

SCADA Systems and Measuring Water Qualities

System control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology is another tool for improving the operation of wastewater treatment facilities. Sensors connected to the system provide real-time information about water flow and pressure during processing. Additional sensors send data about pH levels and impurity concentrations. Managers will know immediately when there are changes to the water quality that require attention.

Cloud-Based SCADA for Reducing Wastewater Problems

High Tide Technologies designs, installs, and maintains SCADA technology for municipal water collection, distribution, and treatment systems. Our cloud-based SCADA software allows technicians to access the data they need from any location on a phone or tablet. This fast access will streamline decision-making, troubleshooting, and maintenance, improving efficiency.

Contact us today to learn how your wastewater treatment facility can benefit from our SCADA services.