Wastewater treatment refers to the physical, chemical, and biological processes used to remove pollutants from wastewater before discharging it into a water body. Since the Clean Water Act was issued in 1972, there are now more than 16,000 publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants in operation in the United States. The continual construction of new plants as well as the upgrading of older plants creates a strong demand for highly skilled operators and designers.
The practice of designing municipal water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) is both art and science. Design is a responsibility shared by owners, regulatory personnel, and consultants, and a successful WRRF design is based on overall plant optimization as well as cost efficiency. Creating the most economical and attractive design for an integrated facility also requires designing to ensure facilities meet effluent regulatory requirements.
Planning, design, and construction are essential to wastewater treatment, but the process cannot be successful without enduring operations commitment. Wastewater treatment operators are the final and vital links in protecting public health and the water environment. Through observations and laboratory sampling, operators determine necessary maintenance and facility needs to keep their plants functioning effectively.
Industrial Wastewater Treatment
Wastewater from industries represents a significant portion of the total wastewater discharged worldwide. Approximately 255,000 mgd of industrial wastewater, treated by chemical, physical, and biological processes, is discharged daily into U.S. waterways. Industries commonly reuse wastewater and process water as water availability becomes scarce, and they are challenged to provide environmentally sustainable wastewater treatment while reducing compliance costs and maintaining value for their businesses.
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New Orleans, LA
Water Resource Recovery Facility 3D Virtual Tour
This virtual tour of a water resource recovery facility—commonly called a wastewater treatment plant—discusses how these facilities recycle the water and waste we flush down the drain. Water resource recovery facilities can also recover nutrients, generate energy, and create biosolids for use as fertilizer. This tour takes viewers through primary, secondary, and advanced treatment as well as the plant headworks and biosolids treatment process. It was developed by the Water Environment Federation and Gage 3D Studios.
- WEF Knowledge Center
Access online training courses on wastewater treatment topics, such as Energy Conservation 101, Fundamentals of Primary Treatment, and many others. Learn at your own pace to obtain continuing education hours.
- Skills Builder
Practice quizzes provided by WEF as a free resource for operator education.
- Wastewater Glossary
A glossary of terms related to the wastewater sector.
- Resources for Wastewater Operators
Find resources on certification, continuing education and training, technical resources, and networking opportunities.
Opportunities for Involvement
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