Friday, October 4, 2013

Stages of Cleaning Waste Water and Introduction to Water Treatment Plants

Hello out there,
This is only my second blog for my internship experience, but I have a lot to say.
Here is what I have learned and experienced so far:
I have a much deeper understanding of the waste water treatment plant in Gunnison. Contrary to popular belief, the waste water treatment plant does not smell bad!

Here is a quick overview of the cleaning process:
There are four stages to cleaning water. This is standard for most waste water treatment plants, but there is some variation from plant to plant.
1. The first stage is pre-treatment, which is removing hard waste that does not include human waste such as paper towels, condoms, etc.
2. The second stage is introducing the bugs (micro-organisms) to the waste, providing an oxygen rich environment to allow them to digest the waste efficiently.
3. The third stage is clarifying the waste water, which can vary depending on the treatment plant. The purpose of the clarifier is to allow the solid waste and bugs to settle to the bottom (where they die), which is a slow process. There is a slow moving scraper, which keeps the water moving, and pushes oils and greases on the top layer of the water into a trap.
4. The fourth stage is cleaning the water by using UV lights. The lights do not kill the bugs, but destroys the ability for the bugs to reproduce. On a side note, the solid waste takes about 22 days to cycle through the treatment plant, and in that time recycles through the stages two and three over and over to make the water even more pure. The sludge removed from the water is then separated in a splitter, removing the water from the solid waste. The waste then is dehydrated even more, which is then turned into compost.

The treatment plants are essentially run by the bugs- they are doing all of the work to decompose the waste. The Front Range areas that were affected by flooding actually had to bring in live bugs in order to start the plants back up again since the bugs that were in the plants died off after eating all of the available food supply.
Go bugs!

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