top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureIn-Pipe Technology

A Dive Into Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater treatment is an often overlooked factor in water conservation, yet it plays a critical role. Used or contaminated water must go through various treatments to ensure that dangerous pollutants aren't released into the environment and jeopardizing other bodies of water.


Even something as common as flushing your toilet can produce wastewater - emphasizing its importance for preserving our precious resources!


Rainwater and runoff are not the only pollutants to end up at tertiary wastewater treatment plants; industrial and agricultural sources can also contribute. But, some of these processes prove more challenging than others - treating industrial wastewater is particularly complexed.

Sunset at a wastewater treatment plant
A Dive Into Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

Domestic wastewater is particularly complex in composition, containing much higher concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene products than industrial waste. As a result, it necessitates the use of an efficient tertiary treatment process to ensure proper purification before release into nature or reuse.


Who is Responsible for Ensuring that Tertiary Wastewater Treatment is Done Properly?

Ensuring proper tertiary wastewater treatment is an essential job to protect people and the environment. It falls on everyone from local municipalities, industry operators, regulatory agencies and citizens who must be aware of their responsibilities towards maintaining high-quality standards for water treatment processes.


Local governments are often essential in providing municipalities with the necessary permits and funding to upgrade or sustain effluent discharges, enabling them to practice much-needed treatments.


Wastewater treatment has become a regional responsibility, with state level governments having the power to set standards for tertiary wastewater treatments.


As such, operators must abide by these regulations and obtain proper permits or licensing from their local government in order to ensure that operations are within compliance of all current laws.


Municipal governments play a key role in monitoring and implementing tertiary wastewater treatment processes to help keep our environments safe.


These programs are essential for reducing the number of pollutants released from commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities into sewers - ultimately protecting nature from hazardous substances.

What Can Cities Do to Discharge Wastewater Safely?


Municipal wastewater treatment facilities are designed to safely and efficiently process liquid wastes. This is achieved through three distinct levels of treatment: primary, secondary, and tertiary.


Primary and secondary treatments remove suspended solids from the water while tertiary treatments include additional processes such as nitrification-denitrification for nutrient removal.


By employing all stages of processing, these systems ensure that our waterways remain free from pollutants!




Solids, like sticks and garbage in wastewater, are a primary source of pollution - accounting for 35% of all pollutants. Fortunately screens and settling tanks effectively catch them before they become an environmental hazard.


These mechanisms capture large items using tiny openings that prevent their entry into the water supply while allowing treated clean water to pass through safely. The collected material is then disposed off at landfills ensuring its safe removal from our eco-systems!


After undergoing primary wastewater treatment, the water is fed into clarifiers or settling tanks to allow solids and detritus to settle out. During this stage of filtration, around half of the pollutant load - known as Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) – can be eliminated from the wastewater before it reaches secondary treatment processes.


Afterwards, any scum that has risen during settling is removed for further processing.

Primary treatment is an essential process to reduce hazardous substances in wastewater, removing up to 95% of solid particles and 55% fecal matter. Yet this isn't enough - pollutants can still remain present after the procedure has finished.


To ensure wastewater is free from pollutants, secondary treatment employs bacteria and oxygen to break down the remaining impurities. Oxygen helps these microorganisms process contaminants more efficiently before being moved into settling tanks where sediments are removed, resulting in up to 95 percent pollutant-free water.


By introducing a sand filter, treatment plants are able to drastically reduce the number of pollutants in water before it is treated with chlorine, ozone or ultraviolet light and released back into ecosystems.



Sludge removal at a wastewater treatment plant
Sludge Removal Processes

Sludge and scum from settling tanks undergo a separate process for further purification ensuring that only clean wastewater can pass on downstream.

An intriguing process takes place within wastewater treatment plants: the temperature is precisely controlled to 38 degrees Celsius, allowing anaerobic bacteria - which don't need oxygen- to break down sludge and reduce odors.


This bacterial feast turns organic matter into highly usable combustible gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that can be used to fuel heating systems!


Centrifuges are a vital part of wastewater treatment, utilizing spinning force to separate liquid and solid substances. The extracted liquids can be reintroduced into the system while solids may provide valuable fertilizer for agricultural applications.


To protect our environment from pollutants, tertiary wastewater treatment is used to remove dissolved materials like color and heavy metals as well as organic chemicals and nutrients that can be harmful if released into the environment.


This advanced process involves using a combination of biological, chemical, and physical processes so we can ensure cleaner water for future generations. Wastewater is processed in a three-step method, beginning with primary and secondary ‘treatment plants’ before passing onto the more complex tertiary treatment.


This involves specially designed bioreactors which feature bacteria to breakdown pollutants across multiple tanks whose environments vary drastically - from oxygen levels to temperature and pH balance.


Water is filtered through tanks and purged of ammonia and phosphorus, thanks to a process that other bacteria cannot facilitate. After spending around nine hours in bioreactors, the water enters secondary clarifiers where bacteria-filled sludge collects at the bottom.



For more informational articles on tertiary wastewater treatment like this one, click here, or you can reach us directly at: 630.509.2488

5 views0 comments
bottom of page