Wastewater Treatment: What it Treats, and What it Doesn’t

Feb 08 , 2023

Wastewater Treatment: What it Treats, and What it Doesn’t

Comprehensive water treatment systems are one of the modern marvels of our age. Through advances in chemistry, public health and engineering, water treatment systems supply us with clean water for farming, cooking, and personal use while cutting down on waterborne diseases and pollution. While we’re very lucky to have these advancements, many folks might want an additional line of defense in the form of a water filtration device.  

You may have some people ask why you would want additional filtration given our current water treatment infrastructure. To answer that question, we’re going to look at what our water treatment facilities do, what they don’t do and what could still be in your water after treatment.

It all starts when water enters the treatment facility. All the water we use for cleaning, food preparation and waste elimination will wind up at the facility along with runoff, rainwater and whatever else might wash into the sewer system. Once there, the water will go through a series of stages that will filter out solids, sediment, chemicals, pathogens and other harmful substances. After this, the water is deemed clean enough to be stored for redistribution or to enter a local body of water for collection later.

What does this process entail exactly? The stages of filtration begin first with filtering out larger solids, then sediment and then bacterium, pathogens and other hazards at the molecular level. This is done by adding chemicals with a positive charge that bolster coagulation and flocculation, where the harmful substances bind together for easy removal. In the next stage, the sewage is shaken and aerated, then filtered through substances like sand, gravel and charcoal.

In the last stage, the water is actively disinfected through the addition of substances like chlorine, chloramine or chlorine dioxide. Before it’s released, treatment plants may offer additional filtration depending on local needs. This can include changing the water’s pH to combat pipe corrosion and make it easier to integrate into the local watershed without harming the environment. In summary, this process promises to eliminate bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals, including some heavy metals.

Developed and refined in the mid- to late 20th century, these treatment methods are well-equipped to deal with threats of the time. With new advancements in research and technology, however, come new challenges that will require different mitigation methods. For instance, researchers have noted the presence of pharmaceuticals and hormones in the United States’ water supply. Various treatments, like carbon, can reduce such substances by up to 95%, but that still leaves trace amounts in the water. Other hard-to-remove substances include nitrates, nitrites and PFAS.

Beyond what’s left in the water, some folks may object to the additives themselves, like chlorine. In the disinfection stage, the chlorine is largely eliminated when it kills contaminants, but small amounts often remain after filtration. Others have noted the aging of our country’s water treatment infrastructure and worry that our treatment plants need repairs or updates to meet the population’s current needs. (See also our recent article about lead in drinking water.)

As we’ve shown here, our modern water treatment systems are good at filtering out many contaminants – but certainly not all of them. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: If you want and need a water filtration system, any reason is valid. If you feel as though you need another layer of protection from what might be in your water, you need a whole-home filtration system from King Water Filtration. KWF’s systems will give you comprehensive filtration to keep nitrates, chlorine, pharmaceuticals and many other hard-to-filter contaminants out of your home’s water while also improving the taste and smell.

If you’d like to know more, you can set up a consultation by visiting our contact page or calling 1-855-957-2166.