Water treatment describes those processes used to make water more acceptable for a desired end-use. These can include use as drinking water, industrial processes, medical and many other uses. The goal of all water treatment process is to remove existing contaminants in the water, or reduce the concentration of such contaminants so the water becomes […]
Water treatment describes those processes used to make water more acceptable for a desired end-use. These can include use as drinking water, industrial processes, medical and many other uses. The goal of all water treatment process is to remove existing contaminants in the water, or reduce the concentration of such contaminants so the water becomes fit for its desired end-use. One such use is returning water that has been used back into the natural environment without adverse ecological impact.
The processes involved in treating water for drinking purpose may be solids separation using physical processes such as settling and filtration, and chemical processes such as disinfection and coagulation. Biological processes are also employed in the treatment of wastewater and these processes may include, for example, aerated lagoons, activated sludge or slow sand filters.
Water purification is the removal of contaminants from untreated water to produce drinking water that is pure enough for the most critical of its intended uses, usually for human consumption. Substances that are removed during the process of drinking water treatment include suspended solids, bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, minerals such as iron, manganese and sulphur, and other chemical pollutants such as fertilisers.
Measures taken to ensure water quality not only relate to the treatment of the water, but to its conveyance and distribution after treatment as well. It is therefore common practice to have residual disinfectants in the treated water in order to kill any bacteriological contamination during distribution.
World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines are generally followed throughout the world for drinking water quality requirements. In addition of the WHO guidelines, each country or territory or water supply body can have their own guidelines in order for consumers to have access to safe drinking water.
A combination selected from the following processes is used for municipal drinking water treatment worldwide:
- Pre-chlorination – for algae control and arresting any biological growth
- Aeration – along with pre-chlorination for removal of dissolved iron and manganese
- Coagulation – for flocculation
- Coagulant aids, also known as polyelectrolytes – to improve coagulation and for thicker floc formation
- Sedimentation – for solids separation, that is, removal of suspended solids trapped in the floc
- Filtration – removing particles from water
- Desalination – Process of removing salt from the water
- Disinfection – for killing bacteria.
There is no unique solution (selection of processes) for any type of water. Also, it is difficult to standardise the solution in the form of processes for water from different sources. Treatability studies for each source of water in different seasons need to be carried out to arrive at most appropriate processes.
The above mentioned technologies are well developed and generalised designs are available which are used by many water utilities (public or private). In addition to the generalised solutions, a number of private companies provide solutions by patenting their technologies.
Sewage treatment is the process that removes the majority of the contaminants from wastewater or sewage and produces both a liquid effluent suitable for disposal to the natural environment and a sludge. To be effective, sewage must be conveyed to a treatment plant by appropriate pipes and infrastructure and the process itself must be subject to regulation and controls. Some wastewaters require different and sometimes specialized treatment methods. At the simplest level, treatment of sewage and most wastewaters is carried out through separation of solids from liquids, usually by sedimentation. By progressively converting dissolved material into solids, usually a biological floc which is then settled out, an effluent stream of increasing purity is produced.