In Queensland, we know that water is important, and we owe plenty of gratitude to the pristine purification and treatment systems that keep the state healthy. However, the other side of the coin is something we dont talk about often, but it just as important as water treatment. For many, waste is something that is kept behind closed doors, to be dealt with discreetly.
But what happens to the waste when its disposed of? Its important to understand different sewage treatments, especially because they clean up something that everyone has in common. In ancient societies, waste was removed away from civilisation, tended to on the surface, and sometimes sold for secondary use such as fertiliser. But there werent any methods in place for lessening the toxicity of waste. And as you can imagine, outbreaks of diseases due to unsanitary practices were quite common.
Humanity had to develop more sophisticated methods to fight contamination. There are two types of waste: greywater and blackwater. Greywater is wastewater used for cleaning purposes, such as laundry, dish washing, and bathing activities. Blackwater is wastewater related to human waste: fecal matter and urine. These two types of waste waters are dealt with differently to reduce water pollution – greywater is recycled for other purposes, while blackwater is disposed of in a stricter, more sanitary manner.
Sewage treatment is dealt with in three different stages. Primary treatment is similar to a filtration process, where waste is kept in a confined area and particles are naturally separated. As the solids slowly settle to the bottom, lighter elements such as oil and grease rise to the surface. Materials that either sink or rise are removed, and the remainder of wastewater continues onto the secondary treatment.
This next step is more biological in nature, where hazardous materials are actually dissolved with the aid of micro-organisms. The final, tertiary treatment involves the process of reusing waste in a controlled environment. Treated waste is disinfected and eventually released into streams and rivers, or recycled into parks or athletic facilities.
When it comes to household sewage treatments, you got a few options – particularly four primary classes, depending on regulations and the type of waste. Class one deals with things such as portable toilets, composting, and recirculation. These methods are not recommended, but are still types of sewage nonetheless, and can be temporary options in case of emergencies. Class two is strictly used for non-human residential waste, such as water from cleaning appliances.
Class three systems are cesspools, large underground concrete habitats that are now banned due to contamination risk, but was once a popular option for older societies. Finally, class four is the most common system in contemporary times, using septic tanks to hold sewage in a confined manner.
Its good to be informed about the different types of sewage treatment, especially for homeowners or property managers. The more you know, the more you can make the right decisions when it comes to dealing with waste in your household.