Effects of Wastewater on the Environment
How Wastewater Can Harm the Environment
M.W. Watermark™ is passionate about keeping our planet’s water supply clean and usable. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to creating powerful water and wastewater treatment equipment. When wastewater gets dumped into waterways before it’s been properly treated, it can have devastating and lasting effects on the environment. Fortunately, government regulations, like the Clean Water Act, have helped keep wastewater pollution under control over the past several decades.
What is Wastewater Composed of?
Wastewater is a byproduct of industrial processing. Virtually all industries produce some type of wastewater, including the mining, oil and gas, stone fabrication and concrete industries. Depending on what’s being made or done, water might be used for cooling, transporting, washing, diluting or fabricating products. Those products continue on through the cycle, while the now dirty water, or effluent, gets left behind.
This water essentially turns into liquid waste. As a result of the processing it had to go through, it may contain any number of harmful substances. The composition of wastewater varies from one manufacturer to the next, but in general, here are some common things it might contain.
- Heavy metals
- Toxic chemicals
- Oil and grease
- Organic and inorganic materials
As you might imagine, this effluent poses numerous hazards for humans, animals and the environment as a whole. It can be toxic, corrosive, reactive, acidic and ignitable, and accordingly it must undergo treatment before being reused or redirected into the water supply.
Dangerous Wastewater Effects
Waterways are generally most at risk to the harmful effects of wastewater. Toxic compounds in the effluent can seriously disrupt aquatic ecosystems. For example, if a large amount of biodegradable substances end up in the water, organisms will start to break them down. This is a bad thing, because when they do, these organisms use a lot of dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen is critical for marine life to thrive. As it becomes depleted, fish can be impacted in life-threatening ways.
Other types of waste, like oil and grease, are harder to break down and can settle on the surface of the water. This blocks light, which photosynthetic aquatic plants need. It can also suffocate fish and get caught in birds’ feathers.
And just as heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, are toxic to humans, they’re also toxic to animals. If someone drank from or ate fish from a contaminated water source, they could be faced with serious health effects. The same is true for the animals and plants living in the water.
Other Harmful Characteristics of Effluent
When untreated wastewater gets dumped, it’s often warm or even hot. In these cases, it can elevate the temperature of the water, which further disrupts the ecosystem. Fish are cold blooded, so they rely on the water to regulate their own body temperature. If the water is too warm, it can increase respiration, feeding and movement. Additionally, the temperature of the water also affects the amount of oxygen in it.
Help Us Make a Difference
If you need to follow federal wastewater regulations and protect the environment from the damaging effects of effluent, make sure you’re using effective wastewater treatment equipment at your facility. We can design and build a custom filter press tailored to your specific solid-liquid separation needs. Give us a call at 616-399-8850 or fill out our online contact form to find out more. In the meantime, you’re welcome to look through our Filter Press Product Brochure.
About M.W. Watermark
M.W. WATERMARK wants to make a difference. We are passionate about the world’s water. We are innovative, focused on customer service and always try to exceed expectations. We are an environmentally conscious company with people who are energized, encouraged and inspired to make a difference on our planet by helping to keep our shared, finite water supply clean and usable for generations to come. We build amazing, custom water and wastewater treatment equipment. Together, we can make a difference.