An introduction to Wastewater

Introduction to Wastewater.
Wastewater is any liquid waste or sewage that comes from a residence, hospital, factory or any other building that uses water facilities.
From daily use of appliances at home to large amounts of waste that flows from industrial sites, we all contribute to the country's wastewater production.
If this waste is not treated properly it can cause damage to public health and cause major damage to the environment.

How bad is wastewater for the environment?
Untreated wastewater can have a massive negative impact on the environment, any untreated waste that gets dumped into existing bodies of water contaminates them with harmful substances such as; Sludge, inorganic & organic materials, pathogens and toxic chemicals. All of these contaminants damage and sometimes completely destroy local wildlife ecosystems. Dumping untreated waste into water systems causes a large amount of natural water to be unusable, which is an incredible waste of our most important finite resources.  

 Wastewater treatments:
Nature is incredibly good at coping with small amounts of contaminated water on its own, however if we didn't treat any of our waste we would face a massive environmental disaster!
Luckily the UK has an incredible and modern sewage system that means most residents of the UK don't have to worry about the waste they produce, however an estimated 4% of UK properties have an off-mains drainage system (mainly rural housing) and have to use alternative methods to treat their sewage.

What are my options if I am one of the 4%? 
If you have to sort your own sewage treatment there are options you can choose from, each having their own advantages and disadvantages.


A quick look as the pro's and con's:

Septic tanks:

  • Separates solid and liquid waste
  • Doesn't need a power supply
  • Relatively low installation, running and maintenance cost
  • Less servicing required overall
  • Doesn't treat liquid waste
  • More regular emptying required
  • CANNOT be emptied directly into watercourses
  • Only suitable if the ground is porous enough for a soakaway system

Sewage treatment plants:

  • Separates solid and liquid waste
  • Treats liquid giving a higher quality effluent
  • Less regular emptying required
  • CAN be discharged directly into a watercourse (Check local regulations first)
  • Sewage treated to a higher standard so has less impact on the environment
  • The only non-mains solutions that enables direct discharge into a watercourse
  • Mechanical parts require connection to a power supply
  • Mechanical parts require regular maintenance 

 Not every option is suitable for everyone because of budgeting concerns, some plants are incredibly expensive to purchase and also very expensive to keep running, and some options aren't available due to the requirement of specific conditions.

You should always choose the option that is fully compliant with current laws surrounding sewage treatment, for example, regulations set out in 2020 mean septic tanks can no longer legally discharge directly into a river or stream, they must drain into the public sewer system or into a drainage field.
Always check with an expert in the field to make sure you're sticking to these laws and regulations before you start spending money on a system that you aren't legally allowed to use.

Mrs WasteWater can offer you free consultations on your desired system to make sure you have the correct conditions to have it installed.

Water recycling:
Even if you don't need a wastewater system but want to make sure you are doing the best for the environment you also have a couple of options to help recycle water to the best of your ability!

Rainwater harvesters collect and store rainwater rather than letting it run off and drain away. The water is collected from a roof-like surface and redirected to a tank that is typically located underground.
With the use of a mains water connection and a pump, this stored rainwater can be used to help run your home, including the flushing of your toilets! Up to 50% of drinking water that is wasted running your home can be saved, which preserves groundwater reserves, thus taking the strain off of large wastewater treatment systems.

Rainwater harvesters that are large and used to run your home can be extremely expensive, not exactly for everyone (especially those on a smaller budget).
However you can purchase a smaller, less expensive versions of a rainwater harvester. Waterbutts and rain barrels work in the same manner just on a smaller scale for use in the garden!

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