Here’s what one wastewater facility does with sewage…

Journalists from the Tampa Bay Times recently explored a question asked by a reader, “Where does my used wastewater go?”. For people not in the industry, this is not a topic that is often pondered and can result in ignorance about harmful flushing behavior *ahem, wet wipes*.

So where does it go? An education coordinator of a water reclamation facility in the St. Petersburg FL area says that most children they tour around the facility think of the movie Finding Nemo and believe there is a pipe from their house straight into the ocean. She explains to the students that once you flush, the contents join up when they reach the city’s pipes and head into a treatment facility. On average there are 22 million gallons that flow through the facility daily. The sewage heads into the pump station first where the trash is turned into tiny pieces and then fed to the headworks screens to trap the trash from going any further. Contrary to popular belief, the part of the tour that is the smelliest is the screened out trash because it’s a large dumpster full of rotting trash, heavily laced with wet wipes and other non-flushables. The next stop is the “teacups” which spin quickly, sending the heavier contents of the sludge to the bottom. The heavier contents are sent to the dumpster and the liquid is sent further down the line. At this point, if the facility is treating the water into drinking water, the process is more extensive to remove all microbes and other substances, but for this facility, the water is being used for irrigation purposes and the microbes are kept in to remove the nitrogen in the anoxic tanks. After the nitrogen is removed, the water heads through aeration tanks and then over to large round tanks with a massive “arm” that removes any additional heavy solids for future use as fertilizer. Once the water is clear it is disinfected and sent to large tanks to be sent off a lawn, car wash or decorative fountain near you!

Click here to read more about the process of wastewater treatment here.