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Water Treatment at a glance

What is Water Treatment?
Water Treatment at a glanceWater treatment is a process employed to remove contaminants from the water, or to reduce the concentration of such contaminants, so that the water becomes fit for its desired end-use. Treated water is fit for drinking, industrial processing and even medical purposes.

History of Water Treatment
The concept of water treatment is probably the best example of the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention". Ever since the dawn of civilization, water has always been one of the core needs of existence. Man realized that water is life, not only because we drink it but also because water is required for various other important tasks like preparing food, bathing, cleaning, irrigating crops, and a variety of other tasks. The water available through water resources like rivers, lakes, or groundwater springs was not necessarily clean all the time carried a wide variety of dangerous diseases. As result of all these, an urgent need for sophisticated means of water treatment techniques was felt necessary through which the contaminated water can be purified and treated of its sludge & waste and safely returned to the environment or even better recycled.

Drinking Water Treatment
With various technological developments new ways of drinking water treatment has come up in the recent past. But all drinking water treatment process comprises of the following few steps :

Aeration : Aeration involves passing or mixing air in the raw water to remove the excess iron and manganese. This is generally achieved by using a Venturi tube, aeration turbines or compressed air which can be combined with diffuser(s) air stone(s), as well as fine bubble diffusers, coarse bubble diffusers or linear aeration tubing. Generally, porous ceramics are more preferred as they can disperse finer bubbles which means more gas is exposed to the liquid increasing the gas transfer efficiency.

Flocculation : This significant process is widely utilized in purification of drinking water, sewage water treatment, storm water treatment and treatment of various other industrial wastewater streams. Though often used interchangeably with coagulation, it is in fact a distinct process that similar to coagulation aids in sediment and contaminant transport. Usually, flocculation follows the coagulation process and helps in getting rid of of colloidal particles or flocs through rapid settlement in the solution. In certain cases, flocks also rise to the surface of the treated liquid, which can then be filtered out from the solution through the process of filtration.

Sedimentation : Sedimentation, also known as clarification or siltation, is a process of letting suspended material like clay or silts present in the source water settle by the force of gravity. These suspended particles or floc is created either from material in the water or from chemical used in coagulation or in other treatment processes like lime softening.

Filtration : Even after sedimentation, water may contain various unwanted particles. In order to remove that water is passed through a series of filters which trap and remove the unwanted particles. Beds of sand, charcoal or carbon in modern times, are used as filters.

Water Treatment at a glanceDisinfection : After all these process, water becomes pure to a large extent. Finally they are subjected to chlorination in order to remove the disease causing pathogens. Chlorine, a very common water disinfectant effectively eliminates all traces of pathogenic bacteria and is known to oxidize lipid contaminants in the water thus creating free radicals. Chlorinated water is very effective in preventing the spread of waterborne diseases.

Wastewater Treatment
Although earth is more occupied with water, only 3% of the available water is drinkable or can be used in other activities. The rest 97% of the water is saline, i.e salty. Over the years with industrialization and development, water pollution has also increased in an astounding rate. This is because after using, the contaminated water is dispersed into the natural water bodies. As a result it becomes unsafe for drinking as well as for irrigation and industrial uses. Likewise huge water bodies are becoming sewage dump and totally unusable; so a high time has come up when we need very sophisticated means of water treatment techniques through which the contaminated water can be purified to a large extent so that water can be treated of its sludge & waste and safely returned to the environment or possibly, utilized again in some other way.

On daily basis a large amount of waste water are released from a household through toilets wastes: soap, detergents, and cleaning products from drains and washing machines; food items from garbage disposals. Through drains, these wastes are dropped into an under ground storage tank. There the sludge sinks down to the bottom of the tank and oil floats on the top of the water. In between these two layers, water is dispersed into the surrounding soil through a network of pipes. The tank is required to be cleaned from time to time. In some localities, this waste water treatment process s carried out under public sewer system. There also the overall process is same only that is done in a larger way.

Different Processes Involved
Whether drawn from a well or from huge water bodies, drinking water may contain pollutants and unwanted particles like runoff from agriculture, pesticides used in farming, as well as harmful microbial organisms bacteria and cysts.

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