As humans, we tend to produce a lot of poo throughout our lifetime. It is believed that an average adult is known to flush around 145kg or 320lbs of poo down the toilet every year. However, what happens to the overall waste? Where does it go? Let us know about the same in detail.
There is no denying the fact that the items that we flush down the toilet turned out to be immensely useful. As a matter of fact, a significant amount of poo that gets flushed ends up in the process of fertilizing crops. At the same time, some portion of our flushed poo is utilized in the form of fuel –heating or powering facilities that we use at home. Eventually, the rest of it would end up in landfills. However, before the fate of the poop that you flush gets decided, a myriad of essential steps helps in ensuring that the same remain free from disease, safe to be used in farms, and even waterways.
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From the toilet, the poop would flow through the sewage system of the city in addition to the water draining from our streets, sinks, and showers. From here, it will go to the wastewater treatment plant. Let us help you know about where your all poo would go when you flush the same in Sydney.
Sewage Water Treatment in Sydney
When you press the flush button in your toilet, your poo, wee, toilet paper, and water –all of these go down the pipe referred to as the “sewer.” The toilet would then flush the waste down the given pipe. The sewer pipe in your home is also responsible for collecting and removing other types of waste items. This could be soap-based water from showers and baths or water that is left from washing clothes and dishes. Together, these waste items are referred to as “sewage.” The pipes through which they travel are referred to as “sewerage pipes.”
The waste collected from your house goes downhill. Then, these join the other types of wastes from other houses and nearby areas while flowing into bigger sewer pipes. As a matter of fact, some of these pipes tend to be larger than a bus. When you live in a big city like Sydney, the waste items from thousands of people in the city appears like a river of sewage.
The bigger sewer pipes will collect and take the entire sewage to a specific location where it receives proper treatment. The given place is referred to as the sewage treatment plant. Towns and cities have proper sewage treatment plants. These appear as large-sized factories wherein all harmful items get removed from the sewage. This serves to be an important part of any city’s life.
Importance of Sewage Water Treatment
Regarded as vital for life, clean & healthy water is one of the most crucial resources on Earth. Wastewater can be regarded as used water. It is also regarded as a valuable resource –especially during instances of water shortages or recurring droughts in most areas of the world. However, it is important to note that wastewater contains a myriad of harmful substances. Therefore, it should not be released back into the environment until the same has been treated.
As such, the overall importance of wastewater treatment turns out to be twofold –restoring the water supply and protecting the planet from harmful toxins.
Restoring Water Supply
When you go through the global drought map, you will observe that most areas on the map do not have access to ample water supply. All major communities –especially areas having water scarcity, should make sure that they have proper sewage water treatment processes. This is to ensure that treated water can be either returned or reused to the respective water cycle, but not wasted at all.
Protection of the Planet
Wastewater or sewage water is known to include contaminants from both commercials as well as residential use. When the water is left untreated, the pathogens and chemical compounds in sewage water could significantly harm the overall health of animals, bird, and plants, living in or near the water body. It could also lead to the contamination of crops or drinking water –ultimately affecting human health. Wastewater treatment, therefore, turns out to be fundamental when it comes to protecting the health of several types of ecosystems.
When sewage water or wastewater is treated properly, it serves as a source of water supply for several applications. Effective wastewater treatment helps in allowing the maximum volume of water to be reused rather than getting wasted.
Sewage Water Treatment Steps
As you would flush down your toilet, the entire collection of sewage water is then taken to the sewage water treatment centre in Sydney. The wastewater here then undergoes a series of treatment steps. These are:
Screening & Pumping
The wastewater that comes in is known to pass through advanced screening equipment wherein objects like wood fragments, rags, grease, and plastics get removed. The materials that are removed are then washed, pressed, and later on, disposed of in landfills. The screened wastewater then gets pumped to the next stage –grit removal.
In the given step, heavy yet fine materials like gravel and sand get removed from the sewage or wastewater. The given materials also get disposed of in the landfills.
The materials that take time to settle down are then taken out with the help of large-sized tanks –referred to as clarifiers. The settled material is referred to as the primary sludge. It is pumped off the bottom with the wastewater exiting the tank from its top. Floating debris like grease gets skimmed off the top while being sent to the digesters with the help of settled materials. In the given step, the chemicals also get added for removing phosphorus.
Activated Sludge or Aeration
In the given step, the wastewater is responsible for receiving most of the treatment. With the help of biological degradation, the pollutants get consumed by microorganisms while being transformed into nitrogen, water, and cell tissue. The biological activity that takes place during this stage turns out to be quite similar to the ones occurring at the bottom of rivers and lakes. However, in these areas, the process of degradation might take several years to be accomplished.
Large-sized circular tanks –referred to as secondary clarifiers help in the separation of treated wastewater from the biology from the respective aeration tanks. This would yield an affluent –almost 90 percent treated. The biology or activated sludge gets continuously pumped from the bottom of the clarifiers while being returned to the aeration tanks.
The clarified effluent gets filtered and polished in the given step. It is achieved by filtering through the media of 10-micron polyester. The material gets captured on the surface of the respective disc filters while getting periodically backwashed. Later on, the same is returned to the plant’s head for further treatment.
For delivering the assurance that treated wastewater remains virtually free from all pathogens or bacteria, ultraviolet disinfection gets applied after the process of filtration. The process of ultraviolet disinfection helps in killing remaining bacteria to significant levels within the discharge permit.
The treated water now remains in a highly stabilized and high-quality state. The same is then aerated upon the requirement for bringing the dissolved oxygen up to proper permit levels. After the given step, the treated water is made to pass through the effluent outfall to join the river or lakes. The water that is getting discharged into the natural water bodies should be capable of meeting stringent requirements. Pollutant removal level is maintained at around 98 percent or even higher.
The primary sludge gets pumped from the primary clarifiers and their bottom. At the same time, the continuous flow of activated sludge from the activated sludge or aeration process is ensured. The same should be treated for reducing the overall volume and producing some usable end product.
Now that you know what happens to your poo upon flushing the same down, you can become a wise citizen, and utilise water and other natural resources effectively.