From keeping you hydrated to washing your dishes, water has an impact on nearly everything that you do. However, what happens to the water you’ve used to bathe, wash dishes, or do a load of laundry? That water, called wastewater, is taken away from your home through the sewer system or, in some cases, to private septic systems.
If you’ve never heard of wastewater before, you may have questions about what it is, why you’re billed for both wastewater and water, and how wastewater is treated to ensure it’s safe for reuse or to return to the environment.
What is Wastewater?
If you are connected to a sewer system, any time you wash dishes, do the laundry, or use the restroom, wastewater must flow away from your home and into the sewers. Wastewater is essentially all the used water that flows from your house into the sewer. Whether that water was used for bathing, laundry, industrial, sanitation, or other uses, it all leaves through your internal drains and into the sewer collection system.
After wastewater is taken away from your home, it’s moved by gravity or through pumping to a wastewater treatment plant. The treatment facility removes contaminants from the wastewater so it can be safely discharged to lagoons or nearby receiving streams or other bodies of water. This cycle is continually repeated to ensure that we have enough water to sustain our lifestyles and stay safe from contaminants that could otherwise threaten the environment and our water sources.
What Is the Difference Between Water and Wastewater on My Bill?
Wastewater bill charges include costs associated with safely moving and treating wastewater that comes from your home or business.
Your standard water bill, on the other hand, includes costs associated with bringing safe and clean water to you to drink or use in a variety of other ways. Typically, you’ll be charged for some fixed costs associated with providing water service each month and a charge based on the amount of water that your home uses throughout a standard billing cycle.
Essentially, your water bill involves the costs of bringing water to your home, while your wastewater bill involves the costs of taking used wastewater away from your home and treating it.
How is Wastewater Treated?
At the beginning of the wastewater treatment process, several steps provide what’s called primary wastewater treatment. As wastewater enters the treatment plant, it flows through screens to remove large floating objects like rags and sticks that could damage treatment equipment. After sewage has been screened, it passes into a grit chamber, where cinders, sand and small stones settle out.
After screening is completed, organic and inorganic solids are allowed time to settle to the bottom of a sedimentation tank. These biosolids, often referred to as sludge, are periodically removed and further treated for use as fertilizer, or incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.
In many communities, a secondary and tertiary treatment process utilizes biological processes and additional treatment methods to further purify and remove contaminants from wastewater.
Finally, wastewater passes through a disinfection process to kill or inactivate most microorganisms and pathogens before returning the discharge, also known as plant effluent, to the environment.
Indiana American Water is Committed to Water Protection
Indiana American Water is dedicated to keeping Indiana’s water sources clean and safe. We work with local organizations to improve and maintain the quality of our water so Indiana residents have access to clean, safe, and pure water for a variety of uses. Learn more about our goals and mission by visiting us online.