AN INTRO TO WASTE WATER
Not all water is created equal. Well, technically it is, but there are many variables that can change or alter the content and cleanliness of water.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, dirty water is the world’s biggest health risk, and it affects millions of people in the United States. Dirty water, or wastewater, can be created in many ways, including when water from rain and melting snow runs off roofs and roads into rivers and picks up toxic chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carrying organisms along the way.
Wastewater treatment plants are located across the country and serve to remove pollutants from contaminated water in homes and businesses. According to the EPA, wastewater treatment facilities filter 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day!
Wastewater contains nitrogen and phosphorus from human waste, food and some soaps and detergents. Once the water is cleaned to standards set by state and federal officials, it is often released into a nearby body of water, where it can sometimes become a source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Updated treatment systems allow some wastewater plants to produce water that contains less nitrogen and other pollutants, but it can be costly to make such changes.
Here in Memphis, wastewater is sent to two facilities, both of which release treated water into the Mississippi River. Recent efforts have been made to improve these treatment facilities in order to reduce the amount of pollutants released into the Mississippi, thus reducing Memphis’ carbon footprint and allowing for more (and safer) recreational activity on the river.