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Wastewater Treatment: Dangers vs Benefits | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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View of the Carlsbad Desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Earnie Grafton

Cologne – London- This year, the World Water Day on March 22 shed lights on sewage water and water purification plants with their growing costs; these plants return sewage water to the regular water channels or to the ground waters, so it can be delivered treated for consumers.

For example, tap water in Germany has been known as having high-quality and being qualified for consumption. However, concerned experts still see that this treated water suffers from many problems like nitrate rate or drug residues.

What is “Wastewater”?

It is the water which became contaminated after being used in households, factories, companies and in irrigation, along with the dirty water found in toilettes, kitchens, hospitals, or workshops, and rainfalls polluted by dust and germs. Usually the severely polluted industrial sewage water would be treated in plants using special techniques, and sometimes, they can be treated through two phases.

The German Environment Authority said more techniques, energy and funds are constantly needed to purify sewage water and clear it from all its flaws.

Sewage water in Germany reaches gigantic quantities – up to 10 billion square meters annually.
According to the German Union of Water Companies and Sewage Waters, German households pour sewage water in around 10,000 public purification plants. According to the German Statistics Office, the wastewater network in Germany extends on 575,600 km.

Methods of sewage water treatment

Plants to treat wastewater work according to vital, chemical, and automatic techniques used to filter solid materials.

The German Statistics Office also said local municipalities have established more sewage treatment plants, which were also expanded with an extra purification technique.

The office said that using ozone and active carbon in purifying water has proved to be efficient. Experts see that it’s impossible to purify the water from all its flaws, because some drugs simply remain in the water, which compels enhancement in techniques used in filtering and renewal.

Materials stuck in the sewage water

Thousands of chemicals, pesticides, detergents, cosmetics residues, human wastes, human and veterinary drugs have been stuck in the water; it’s so hard to purify the water from the medical drugs’ residues.

But, techniques to eliminate drugs differ according to the material’s type; for example, water can be purified from up to 80% of Ibuprofen by using the traditional techniques of treatment. However, contrast materials used in x-rays cannot be completely eliminated. Therefore, drugs should not be thrown in toilettes, but through pharmacies or garbage containers, according to the German Environment Authority.

What about potable water?

According to the consumer protection department, tap water in Germany has good quality. Water plants transform waters of valleys, rivers, and ground water into potable water. However, water’s contamination with nitrate represents a problem for purification, along with nitrogen-based pesticides which are sucked by the ground water.