Water Quality And Pollution – The Raison D’etre For Wastewater Treatment
Water as a chemical:
Pure water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It exists as liquid at ambient temperature.
Water – what it contains:
Water has both living and non-living organisms and substances in it. The living organisms can be further subdivided into macro- and micro- organisms. Macro organisms, which are biological, are those that are visible to the naked eye or can be seen through a microscope.
In contrast, microbiological micro-organisms are not visible even through a microscope.
Water quality criteria:
The quality of water is a function of several factors. These include its source, location, geological conditions, depth of water level, seasonal changes, domestic activity, agricultural activity, industrial activity, etc.
Excessive exploitation of natural resources and the use of technological advances with no concern for the ecology adversely affect air, water and land, alike.
The substances present in water can be classified as floating matter and suspended matter. Floating matter takes the form of leaves, twigs, dead organisms and algae. Examples of suspended matter present in water are silt, clay, decaying vegetable matter, bacteria, microorganisms, algae, insoluble iron, and manganese.
There are also dissolved impurities which include gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc., as well as chemical substances, minerals and salts.
Water sources and water quality:
Water quality differs according to the source. For instance, the turbidity in surface water is usually high, while ground water and sub-soil water on river beds are colorless and clear. Again, sub-soil water and ground water are more likely to have totally dissolved solids than surface water. The presence of hardness, alkalinity, fluoride, chloride and nitrate are all more likely in ground water than in surface level or sub-soil water. Bacteria and organic matter are more likely to be found in surface level water than in ground or sub-soil water.
Water is essential for living, just like air. One may live without air for a few minutes. But, without water, one is sure to die within a few days. We all know about air pollution. Water pollution is also the gift of modern man to posterity.
How water gets polluted:
Pollution of water sources is caused by sewage and sullage from human settlements, dumping of solid wastes, wastewater from industries, and chemicals in agriculture. When foreign materials harmful to us are added, the water is sure to get polluted. Two readily such foreign materials that come readily to mind are industrial waste and sewage from cities.
Why we need good water:
We need good water for drinking by humans and animals, supporting aquatic life, generating electric power, irrigating crops in fields, and recreation such as water-based sports.
Thus the need for wastewater treatment can never be overemphasized.
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