Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems vs. Septic Systems | Differences and Similarities
Whether you live in a home or an apartment, in the city or the country, you have a wastewater treatment system. Wastewater treatment systems treat water that is contaminated with pollutants. These systems aim to remove the contaminants from the water so that the water can be reused or released back into the environment. There are many different types of wastewater treatment systems, but they all work to achieve the same goal.
How Do Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems Work?
Municipal wastewater treatment plants are usually located near sources of fresh water, such as rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. These plants treat water from homes, businesses, and industries within the municipality or city. The treated water is then released back into the environment.
Municipal wastewater treatment plants use a variety of processes to remove contaminants from water, including:
- Physical. Physical processes involve using physical means to remove contaminants from water. These processes include filtration, settled sewage sludge digestion, gravity separation, flotation, and sometimes manually removing larger items by hand.
- Biological. Biological processes use bacteria and other microorganisms to break down organic matter in water. These processes include activated sludge digestion, trickling filters, and aerobic digestion.
- Chemical. Chemical processes involve using chemical agents to remove contaminants from water. These agents can be either synthetic, like chlorine or ozone, or natural, like alum and lime.
Municipal wastewater treatment plants use a combination of these processes to treat wastewater. The specific combination of processes will vary depending on the type of plant, and the contaminates that need to be removed.
How Do Septic Systems Work?
Septic systems are smaller than municipal wastewater treatment plants and usually located on individual properties, such as homes or some businesses. They are more common in rural areas that are too far to access a municipal wastewater plant economically. Septic systems treat wastewater from toilets, sinks, bathtubs, washing machines, and dishwashers and then release it back into the environment. This process happens in your backyard in a buried septic tank and drain field as opposed to within the confines of a large plant.
Septic systems use both physical and biological processes to remove contaminants from water. The most common processes used in septic systems are filtration and aerobic digestion. Aerobic digestion is a process in which bacteria break down organic matter in the presence of oxygen.
While different types of wastewater treatment systems are available, depending on your needs and where you live, they are all an important part of our world today. They help us to clean contaminated water so that it can be reused or released back into the environment without harming it, which is important to everyone.