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Where Does It Go When It Goes Down The Drain?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Life here in America, when you get right down to it, is pretty amazing. We have electricity, Amazon, the internet, roofs over our heads and of course, clean running water in both the hot and cold varieties. We have talked water in the past and today’s topic is going to be all about where the waste goes, and what happens to it.

So, let’s begin at the toilet. You’ve taken care of business and flushed. That is the beginning of a very long journey for what was just flushed away. The typical sewer system in a single-family home is a four-inch pipe which then connects to the city system with increasingly larger pipes until gravity can no longer do the job and the waste hits a lift station (as shown in the accompanying photo). The pumps in the lift station begin the job of breaking down the waste for processing. After leaving the lift station it is then off to your friendly neighborhood waste treatment plant.

The first stage in the treatment process is the larger waste removal. Using what I would describe as very large sieves, all larger pieces are removed and then this waste is ground and often transported to a waste storage facility. This leaves us with a nice material which I can only describe as sludge. This sludge is then pumped into a pressurized air tank to help separate smaller solids from the liquid. Again, back into another holding or settling tank with the heavier solids, going back into the waste grinder. We are getting closer to water at this point. It is what is considered recycled water and can only be used for limited agricultural purposes.

Our recycled water is then pumped into yet another holding tank to again allow for settling and further waste removal. The water then travels through a series of filtration and is passed over ultra violet light for the disinfection process. We are getting closer to sending the water back to you at this point. After the UV disinfection process chlorine and ammonia are added to make sure the treatment plant has killed all the bacteria and the water is then returned to use, or in some cases returned to the aquifer from whence it came.

I can’t speak to how many treatment plants there are here in America, I can only tell you the one in our home of Coral Springs processes 5.5 million gallons of sewage daily. The waste passes through forty- three lift stations before it gets to the plant and Coral Springs specifically uses a deep well injection method to put the water they have cleaned back to use.

Well, I hope I haven’t grossed you out too badly, if you’re thinking about adding a water filtration system to your home now I also get that. Today’s journey was just an overview of the process, which I’m sure if you dig up a waste water engineer they could really gross you out.

Until next time my friends, I was signing up for a food website and I thought “beefstew1” would be a great password, however they said it wasn’t stroganoff!

House Whisperer out!!


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