Have you wondered how all the waste water and fluids generated from our homes, offices, factories and other places are treated? Also, which of these liquid wastes pose serious challenges in treatment and disposal?
A large portion of domestic waste water (what we call sewage waste) pose little or no disposal challenges. Sewage disposal plants world over have been able to do a commendable job of treating such water, and even reclaiming a portion of that.
So, sewage water is not exactly a challenge. So what is?
Liquid waste that currently pose significant disposal challenges are mainly from the industrial sector (especially industries that let out hazardous/harmful chemicals in their waste water), and from the medical facilities/hospitals.
Industrial Waste Water
It will be very difficult and expensive to treat industrial waste once they mix with the general sewage stream. This is why most of the industries generating such hazardous waste water have been compelled by law to treat the water within their boundaries (in what are called Effluent Treatment Plants or ETPs), and strict benchmarks exist in most countries on the extent to which they have to treat the water before letting it out into the sewage.
Medical Liquid Waste
Another sector that faces significant challenges in liquid waste treatment is the medical / hospital sector, given the harmful substances waste water from these facilities could contain – pathological, infectious and chemical waste. Similar to industrial waste water treatment, many countries have detailed and strict regulations and procedures on how liquid waste from hospitals and other medical facilities should be handled and treated, before they are let out to join the general sewage.
Living in South India, I have been witness to indiscriminate water pollution by textile dyeing units in a textile manufacturing hub in my state. Such pollution happened in spite of the strict water treatment regulations – which the companies were gleefully violating. The ground water pollution became so horrific that the pollution control board had to shut down hundreds of dyeing units in that town, pretty much closing all industrial activity there. Let me just say that the firms do not deserve any pity for this – they were simply asking for it!