Wastewater Basics

Whether using conventional treatment or advanced treatment, wastewater follows a specific treatment path in order to meet water quality standards.

Primary Treatment separates the solid matter from the liquid waste. This 'wastewater', composed of nutrients, liquid wastes and primarily water, can be treated more quickly than solid waste which stays in the system until it breaks down.

Secondary Treatment exposes wastewater to aerobic bacteria in order to break down suspended organic matter, pathogens and other contaminants. Sewage treatment plants often use baffles with a special film coating of aerobic bacteria. Wetlands habitats naturally supply this aerobic bacteria through the microbes and bacteria found there.

Tertiary Treatment is the last step and involves the removal of nutrients from the wastewater. Many sewage treatment plants neglect this last step because of the costs involved. Nutrient removal is an important method of curtailing downstream effects such as eutrophication and algal blooms, which destroy ecosystems and habitats. Advanced wastewater treatment, such as the systems developed by IWS include tertiary treatment as a standard practice.