In a nutshell, wastewater treatment entails converting water that is no longer suitable for consumption or use into water that is safe to be discharged back into the environment. Wastewater includes rainwater runoff as well as water that has been used for bathing, washing, flushing toilets, and industrial processes.


Where is wastewater collected from?

Industrial wastewater is a by-product of industrial and commercial processes. Efforts have been made to reduce the amount of water used in these processes or to reuse water throughout the process. Despite these efforts some industrial processes need water in order to function properly and there is inevitably some waste.

Industries that produce wastewater have different complications to deal with in order to treat the wastewater they produce and to extract the specific chemicals or contaminants that result from various processes. Industry wastewater can be affected by one or many of the following:

  • Arsenic
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Selenium
  • Nitrates
  • Lead
  • Biochemical oxygen demand
  • Suspended solids
  • Antibiotics
  • Hormones
  • Parasites

Agricultural processes create wastewater that needs to be treated due to nutrient runoff and the presence of pesticides and sediment. There are very few, if any, industries that do not create this thing during their processes.

What is removed during the treatment process?

The wastewater treatment process works to remove contaminants that can harm people and the environment. These contaminants include bacteria, chemicals and toxins. Contaminants can also include any number of things depending on where the water has come from. For example, agricultural wastewater may contain pesticide or antibiotics whereas the wastewater from electric power plants will contain metals like lead and chromium.

Can you drink treated water?

In many countries, including South Africa, treated water is discharged from the water treatment plant into rivers which ends up in damns from which water is taken to be treated and then pumped back through the tap.

Many companies make it their mission to make large- and small-scale wastewater treatment facilities available for industry- or community-specific needs. Learn more here.