Water treatment is a part of our everyday life that we may not give much thought to. Where does our water go after it goes down the drain? Is it damaging the earth in any way? There are many questions around urban wastewater treatment, and we hope to give you some useful information to help you better understand how water treatment systems work!
Water treatment is a process that makes water suitable for use or for returning it back to its home (such as a lake, ocean, or river). Respectively, water is required to be treated before and after it is used! However, depending on what the water was used for, methods of treatment can differ.
The different methods for treating water depend on two types of water. One is called greywater, which is the water that runs from baths, dishes, and washing. The second type is called black water which is the less sanitary type that’s run from toilets.
All water treatments aim to remove solids, bacteria, algae, plants, inorganic & organic substances. This is done through filtration and sediment separation. To remove harmful pollutants, the process of bacteria digestion is an important part of the treatment system. This is how we turn water into acceptable drinking water.
In Victoria, B.C., drinking water comes from the Sooke Reservoir. The watershed is surrounded by forest which provides a certain amount of source water protection. The water is treated with three processes: Ultraviolet light is used to inactivate parasites, free chlorine is used to kill viruses and other bacteria, and finally chloramine is used to prolong a chlorine residual in the distribution system. No fluoride or other harsh chemicals are used during the treatment process—making it a fairly environmentally friendly system.
Although Victoria, B.C. doesn’t have a severely damaging footprint on the earth from its energy uses for the water treatment system, they could definitely be improving! Victoria could take a lesson or two from the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL)—a wastewater treatment plant located in Rhinebeck, New York.
Firstly, the operations at the OCSL are powered completely by solar and geothermal energy. Secondly, the OCSL does not use any chemicals to treat the water. Instead, they try to mimic nature’s processes such as using a combination of plans, algae, gravel and sand filtration systems, and microorganisms to treat the water and make the water acceptable for use or for going back into its natural habitat. Their process allows nature to work in harmony to remove toxins and break down nutrients to give life to plants that continue the cycle of cleansing such as removing odorous gases.
What makes OCSL even more admirable is their commitment to teaching others how to live in harmony with nature. CEO Skip Backus says, “The OSCL is a dynamic, living and breathing demonstration of how interconnected we all are with the world around us.” He continues, “Our goal is to help people reexamine how they relate to the world by showing them what’s possible in terms of environmental sustainability, green energy, and regenerative design.”
In order to guarantee a sustainable future, we need to start looking at places like the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. Implementing greener practices will help us to reduce our environmental impact, and teach us more about how we are all connected to the earth and that we need to work with nature, not against it.