Domestic Wastewater contains and is composed of several ingredients, 99% of which is made up of water. The other 1% of its make up is organic and inorganic matter. Of the organic and inorganic mixture it can be broken down into several more ingredients; fats oils and grease, Pathogens, Nutrients, synthetic organic chemicals, and total suspended solids. Your wastewater system, if designed and installed properly, should remove these contaminates before the wastewater enters the groundwater/aquifer or surface water such as lakes, streams, or ponds. These ingredients or contaminates are dangerous, they are harmful to humans and the environment.
Fats, oil, and grease are harmful as it can clog and plug up pipes if poured down the drains and causes sewage to backup into your home. The fat oils and grease can also cause a film or clogging in the soil pores that is used to filter and recycle your wastewater. If clogging occurs in the soils it will cripple the soil and filthy wastewater will reach the freshwater supply causing contamination. To prevent this from happening we should refrain from putting fat, oils, or grease down the drain.
A Pathogen is a microorganism that causes infection in the host that it lives in. Examples of pathogens are; Bacterial which includes things like Salmonella and E.coli. Another example of a pathogen is a virus. Viruses cause Hepatitis A and Polio. Also Protozoa are a form of pathogen which can cause Malaria and Cryptosporidia. Helminthic which cause things like pinworms and roundworms is another pathogen that is of immediate concern to public health when groundwater or surface water is contaminated. Once contamination has happened, reversing such effects is nearly if not impossible.
Nutrients are important to allow life to grow. In wastewater treatment a good balance of nutrients are important to keep microorganisms alive and functioning at their full capacity. Microorganisms are an important key in the breakdown of filtering and cleaning of wastewater. Too much of nutrients, however is not good. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are two of the main nutrients that when in abundance will cause concern for the ecosystem. If there are excessive amounts of these two Nutrients they inhibit the food chain, all the microorganisms are lacking or starving making the food chain unbalanced. An example of phosphorus effecting the environment would be a lake with a large algae bloom, killing off all fish in that ecosystem. One reason this could happen would be a wastewater treatment system was installed to close to the lake and wastewater entered the lake before being treated. Large amounts of Nitrates infecting an aquifer/groundwater are very harmful to infants and small children because when consumed it decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of the hemoglobin in babies causing death. This is called blue baby syndrome. These are all very scary and real possibilities if you do not treat your wastewater or install your system properly.
Synthetic organic chemicals are household cleaners and chemicals that people put down their drains without even thinking. There is no solid 100% answer on the total effects of these chemicals, because of that it is strongly advised never to put these chemicals down your drains or toilettes.
Total suspended solids are made up of all the organic matter and particles that are made from human waste and food particles. There is also inorganic fibres and dirt from clothes and doing laundry.
All these ingredients together, if not treated by a properly designed and installed wastewater treatment system, will be a recipe for dangerous waste. This would be detrimental to the environment and the future of humans and wildlife. It is our responsibility as caregivers of the earth to make sure we educate ourselves on the impact we are making. Our goal is to make the smallest footprint possible so we can be proud of what we are leaving to our children and their futures. We like to say, “If you won’t put it in your mouth, and if it didn’t come from your body, don’t put it down your drain into the environment.”
Amanda Opdendries, Nicline Backhoe Services Ltd.