Major Funding The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation



Sewage: Glossary

A

aeration
the process of exposing wastewater to circulating oxygen
algal bloom
algal blooms happen when colonies of algae, simple plants that live in water, grow out of control due to excessive nutrients in the water and produce harmful effects on water quality as well as fish, birds, and people
alternative
different from the most widely-used method

B

bacteria
microscopic organisms that grow in nearly every environment on Earth. In wastewater treatment, they perform a variety of biological treatment such as consumption of dissolved organic matter and sludge digestion.
biological process
a process that occurs in living organisms
biosolids
the solid product of wastewater treatment processes that can be recycled for use as fertilizer or compost

C

cesspool
a pit in the ground that holds human waste and other garbage
chemical processes
a process where a substance undergoes a change by chemical means
chlorine
a chemical with a strong smell that is added to water to kill bacteria, as is used in swimming pools
complex
a process having many steps, complicated, not simple
contaminate
to make dirty or unfit for use

E

effluent
wastewater that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or septic tank
epidemic
an outbreak of disease that spreads rapidly to many people in an one area

F

fertilizer
a substance added to soil to make it better for growing plants, often used in gardens or farms
filtration
the process of using a device that cleans water as it passes through; water can be cleaned by going through a filter such as gravel, sand, or charcoal

G

gravity
the force that pulls things down toward the earth and keeps them from floating off into space

I

impurities
substances that contaminate or pollute water and make it unsafe or harmful
influent
wastewater flowing into a treatment process

M

methane
a type of gas that is made as sludge digests
microorganisms
microscopic organisms, either plant or animal, invisible to the naked eye, such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses.

N

nutrients
elements such as phosphorus and nitrogen that utilize oxygen in water and can cause excessive plant growth

O

organic matter
matter that comes from living things

P

physical process
a process where substance goes through a change, such as separating a mixture by filtration, but the composition of the substance itself is not changed
pollution
impurities that are dirty or harmful to life and health
protozoa
tiny one-celled living creatures such as amoeba

R

runoff
excess rainwater that is not absorbed by the earth

S

sanitation
the practice of keeping the public healthy by providing clean living conditions, such as sewage and trash disposal
scum
fats, oils, and greases that float on the top of liquid
sedimentation
the process of allowing heavier particles to sink to the bottom
septic system
a wastewater treatment system where sewage is treated on-site, rather than being carried away by sewers
sewage spill
the overflow, leaking or spillage of sewage from a sewer line or wastewater treatment plant, into a body of water, land area, or building
sewage treatment plant
a facility that receives dirty water that arrives from the sewers, cleans it and releases it, and that processes and recycles the solids removed from the dirty water
sludge
solid matter that settles to the bottom of septic tanks or wastewater treatment plant sedimentation tanks
stench
unpleasant smell
suspended solids
solid pollutants that either float on the surface of or are suspended in wastewater primarily due to their small size

T

toxic
poisonous, harmful

U

ultraviolet light
a type of light that is used in disinfection to kill disease-causing bacteria and viruses – the same type of light that causes a sunburn
upgrade
to improve and replace old equipment with newer and more efficient equipment

W

wastewater engineer
water specialists who design and oversee projects for safe disposal of wastewater and sewage
wastewater
used water that is flushed or goes down a drain

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