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Everything You Need to Know About Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

Updated: Jan 17

Tertiary wastewater treatment is a process used by municipalities and other organizations to treat water that has already been through the primary and secondary stages of treatment. It is an important part of the wastewater management process and involves a series of steps that remove pollutants from wastewater before it can be safely released into the environment.


Aerial image of a wastewater treatment plant
Everything You Need to Know About Tertiary Wastewater Treatment


In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at how tertiary wastewater treatment works and what methods are available for treating wastewater.

What is Tertiary Wastewater Treatment?

Wastewater treatment is a complex process that utilizes various treatments to remove contaminants from wastewater. Primary processes like filtration and settling separate out solids such as oil, sand and debris; while secondary methods employ biological strategies relying on bacteria to break down dissolved organic material.


When combined, these two approaches are essential for creating clean water supplies by removing the majority of pollutants present in sewage-based systems.

Tertiary treatment offers an advanced level of water purification, allowing wastewater to become clean enough for reuse in a range of activities – from industrial processes that require large amounts of water, all the way up to making it safe and suitable for consumption as drinking water.


Methods Used in Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

The most common methods used in this type of water treatment include sedimentation tanks, filtration systems, membrane systems (such as reverse osmosis and nanofiltration), activated carbon filters, ion exchange processes and ultraviolet disinfection systems.

By combining several different methods together—sedimentation tanks with filtration systems for example—it is possible to produce a much higher quality effluent than could be achieved with only one method alone.

Processes Involved in Tertiary Wastewater Treatment

The processes involved in tertiary wastewater treatment vary depending on the method used but typically involve some sort of physical separation or chemical reaction to remove pollutants from the water.


Sedimentation tanks use gravitational forces to settle out particles from the water while filtration systems use porous media such as sand or activated carbon to trap particles or absorb pollutants from the liquid stream.


Membrane systems remove dissolved substances by forcing them through a semipermeable membrane while ion exchange processes remove ions or charged particles by exchanging them with other ions or molecules within a resin bed.


Finally, ultraviolet disinfection uses UV light to neutralize microbial contaminants before they can enter downstream waterways or aquifers.

Tertiary wastewater treatment is an important part of producing safe drinking water and meeting environmental discharge requirements when releasing effluent into local ecosystems.


By using a combination of physical separation techniques such as sedimentation tanks and filtration systems along with chemical reactions like ion exchange processes and UV disinfection technologies it is possible to produce highly treated effluent that meets even the strictest standards set by local authorities.


With advances in technology continuing to develop new ways to improve upon existing methods of tertiary wastewater treatment, municipalities have access to better ways than ever before for treating their waste streams so they can protect public health and preserve natural resources at the same time.



To learn more about how In-pipe Technology is tackling compliance issues, odor control, FOG control, and nutrient removal issues visit our website. Our case studies will give you a deep dive of how we've helped cities across the country battle various plant operation issues.

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