Water treatment is a process that the vast majority of us give very little thought to. We turn on the faucet and out it comes, ready to hydrate ourselves or wash our waste. But before it gets to that stage, it will have gone through a lot to ensure that it is safe to use in our homes.
It is a vital component of everyday life; after all, water makes up about 60% of the average human body, while it is essential that there is enough clean water to sustain our vast and complex ecosystems. So without water treatment, where would we be? How does the process work and what are some of the technologies used? Read on to learn more.
Why is water treatment so important?
If our wastewater were not properly treated, the impact would be severe. Without the process, our drinking water would be contaminated, recreational water sites would be forced to close and our natural water-dwelling wildlife would be deprived of the oxygen it needs to survive. That’s why residential households choose to install in-line water filters to ensure they drink only safe drinking water. When you consider an inline water filter for your home, it goes through a water treatment that makes it safe to drink.
How does the water treatment process work?
There are a few stages in the water treatment process:
- First, sand and gravel, as well as larger foreign objects, such as toilet paper or debris, are filtered out.
- Then, the water is transferred to large tanks where the sludge falls to the bottom and is removed for separate treatment. The same happens with the oils, which rise to the surface and are skimmed off.
- Bacteria are then added to break down biological elements in the water, such as soap and food waste.
- Finally, the water is disinfected, perhaps by chlorination or the application of ultraviolet lights, which kill any harmful bacteria or viruses. Sometimes a combination of techniques will be used.
What are some common examples of water treatment technologies?
There are a number of different water treatment techniques, including:
- Slow sand filters use sand and gravel of various sizes in a tube or container, where the operator looks through a sight glass to monitor the water level. The complex biofilm on the surface of the sand breaks down contaminants, producing water with a drastically reduced bacterial cell count.
- Aeration is where oxygen is transferred to the water to remove gases and other volatile compounds in the form of air removal.
- Screens are a relatively rudimentary but effective method of water treatment. Screens of varying levels of roughness can be used to remove weeds and debris, down to much smaller particles.
- Nanotechnology is a relatively new method of water treatment that may be more effective and efficient than other processes. Nanomembranes soften water and remove contaminants, and this can be achieved because of the nanoparticles’ high surface-to-volume ratio, small size and organized structure.