Unit 6 Discussion: Sewage & Wastewater Treatment


Part 1: Septic Tanks

For people living a good ways outside the city limits, a septic tanks is used for their sewage. Do some research and briefly explain, in your own words, how a septic tank works. What are the pros and cons?

Part 2: Wastewater Treatment

For more densely populate areas, wastewater is treated by the municipality.  Do you know where the wastewater from your community goes? Take a moment to check the local treatment plant's website, or stop by and visit or give them a call and find out the answers to the following questions. Post your results.

a. What is used to disinfect water: chlorine or ozone?
b. Upon treatment, where is the wastewater released?
c. What methods are used to treat sludge?
If you cannot find the answers you are looking for, use the sewage treatment of New York City as an example. Their process is described here:
d. Visit the EPA site below and go to the frequent questions. Write a brief synopsis on one of the guidelines for dealing with sewage (bio-solids).   

EPA Site for Use and Disposal of Biosolids (Sewage Sludge)

Since there are two parts to this post, you should write about 400 words altogether (not including works cited). Be sure to check the rubric to see how your comment will be assessed. Note that you are being asked to offer comments that are informed by the materials given. This means that you need to cite any facts or quotes that come from these materials, and these citations must be referenced at the end.  After making your initial post, read the postings of other students and politely challenge a position or interpretation that differs from your own. In all cases, cite evidence from the websites to bolster your argument. Cite your sources in APA or MLA format.


Tips for this post from your instructor:

It is good to know what happens after you flush the toilet. In rural areas, septic tanks are quite common and effective. As long as they are maintained they are a good solution to dealing with sewage. In cities it becomes necessary to have dedicated facilities to deal with all the sewage generated. There are several environmental impacts to be aware of here, particularly what happens to the water after it has been treated (in some cases it is actually sent back through as potable drinking water!), and what happens to the sludge, which can be quite toxic in concentrated amounts. Also keep in mind that sewage that is not treated and is allowed to enter the environment is a big problem, causing eutrophication of waterways (where algae blooms live off of the excess nitrogen in sewage and kill off the biodiversity in place) as well as creating unsanitary water (usually in the form of dangerous ecoli bacteria). This can be a big problem in the developing world where sewage treatment plants are uncommon. Here in the U.S. the biggest sewage problems are caused by animal farming - huge feedlots of chicken, cows, or pigs that cannot contain all the sewage created, thus allowing it to enter the environment. 

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