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Commonly Used Wastewater Terms

Like all specialized industries, wastewater management comes with its own set of technical jargon. To Wind River Environmental’s team of experts these are common terms, but to a layperson, they can be confusing. Here is a list of words and phrases commonly used in the wastewater treatment industry, along with an explanation of what they mean.

Aerobic Wastewater Treatment – As the name suggests, this kind of treatment depends on oxygen, which is required for aerobic bacterial breakdown of waste.

Bacteria – An essential part of the ecosystem, these microscopic living organisms exist nearly everywhere on earth, including within the human body. Bacteria are capable of digesting many organic and inorganic substances.

Biosolids – A type of sludge, this term refers to the rich organic material left over from aerobic wastewater treatment.

Dewatered Sludge – Sludge is solid waste material (sometimes biosolids) which settles out in the wastewater treatment process. After being dewatered (a process in which as much water as possible is removed from the sludge), what is left over can be compressed into a “cake” and disposed of or reused.

Digestion – During the process of digestion, microorganisms are used to break down sludge and other waste biologically. Aerobic digestion requires oxygen, while anaerobic digestion requires the absence of oxygen. The resulting byproducts include methane gas, carbon dioxide, sludge solids, and water.

Effluent – Water that has undergone the wastewater treatment process and is subsequently released as outflow. Proper treatment is critical, as effluent can contribute to water pollution.

Grease – Fats, soaps, oils, and waxes all contribute to grease found in wastewater.

Storm drain – Storm drains are pipelines or channel systems that funnel surface water and runoff into public waters. These drains do not feed into the sewer system.

If you have further questions about terms used during the wastewater process or are interested in our residential services please feel free to contact us. Our experts are ready to help!