Wastewater and the Environmental Laboratory

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Wastewater in the City of Amarillo Wastewater System is classified as domestic wastewater. This water begins as potable tap water, and is consumed by the Public in the normal course of maintaining our homes and businesses. Wastewater begins its trip to the wastewater treatment plant when it enters a sink drain, toilet, floor drain, etc…

Domestic wastewater also has a common title of “grey water” due to the final mixed color.
Wastewater contains a multitude of live bacteria, which is used by the wastewater treatment plant to continue digestion of the suspended and dissolved matter in the waste. Consequently the wastewater treatment plant feeds oxygen to the waste by means of air. The bacteria then thrive and continue digestion. After many additional treatment steps the water is purified to a level where it can safely be discharged to the receiving stream.

The original tap water changing to wastewater gains some items which pass through the treatment plant. Examples of this are seen in Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Fluoride, and others.

The modern treatment applied to wastewater is very good at removing items such as heavy metals. Examples of these are Lead, Copper, Zinc, Nickel, Chromium, and Iron. How did those get in the wastewater? We have a large City which contains multitudes of pipes made of various metals, home sink faucets, shower plumbing, floor drains made of metal, and businesses containing metal plumbing. Additionally common vitamins do contain many different metals. After treatment the majority of all metals are found in the final solid sludge produced by the treatment plant.

Organic molecules of many different types are digested and used as food by the bacteria.
The bacteria left over in treatment is found in the sludge, and continues degradation into simple terminal products such as carbon, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water.