Wastewater treatment is a crucial process right across the country, providing residential communities and commercial operations with the services they need to function at their best. But what’s the role of bacteria in all of this? As it turns out – bacteria has a huge role to play, and bacteria wastewater treatment is making a real difference at facilities of all sizes.
Read on as we explore this in more detail, looking at the what, the why, and the how of bacteria wastewater treatment.
What Is Bacteria Wastewater Treatment?
Bacteria wastewater treatment involves using natural microorganisms to break down and remove harmful content from industrial, commercial, and residential wastewater. These microorganisms gain the energy they need to function by consuming the organic and inorganic matter they encounter in their environment – with this in mind, bacteria wastewater treatment is essentially a way to harness this natural process in achieving the aims of a wastewater treatment plant.
There are several methods to treat water, all of which involve bacteria to some extent. However, bacteria wastewater treatment refers to the active cultivation of a specific bacterial biome. Once formed, this biome will begin breaking down matter within the water in a natural manner.
Why Is Bacteria Wastewater Treatment Used?
What are the key advantages of bacteria wastewater treatment? Let’s take a look at why facility managers might choose to focus on bacteria and microorganisms as they process their wastewater.
Bacteria Occurs Naturally in Wastewater
It’s no surprise that there is already a great deal of bacteria in wastewater. In many cases, it is this bacteria that makes wastewater harmful in the first place, as it may include pathogens that can cause disease in humans and animals. While the potential for waterborne infection is a concern, the presence of natural bacteria provides a great opportunity for water treatment. Studies have found 28 core bacterial constituents in the activated sludge biome within the water treatment process, including Dokdonella kunshanensis, and bacteria from the Zoogloea and Nitrospira species.
Bacteria Reduces the Cost of Wastewater Treatment
As mentioned above, bacteria will naturally digest many of the contaminants found in wastewater. This is part of the natural process and function of the bacteria itself, and this digestion will take place with little to no outside stimulus, providing that the conditions are right for bacterial growth within the treatment chamber. The result is a real advantage for water treatment facilities, as the cost of the treatment process is reduced in a big way. There are still costs associated with this form of treatment – achieving the right conditions, altering the cocktail of bacteria, and conducting auxiliary water treatments all contribute to the expense of the process – but the overall investment is reduced. Significant savings are achievable when facilities embrace bacterial digestion, which is good news for budget-conscious treatment facilities.
Bacteria Reduces Dependency on Chemicals in the Treatment Process
Many chemicals are used in the treatment and disinfection of water. If water treatment facility managers can replace some of these chemicals with specially selected bacteria species, this is a big advantage. It requires large amounts of energy, time, and monetary investment to source, transport, and store these chemicals, and the presence of chemicals on-site or in the water itself can cause an ecological hazard. Bacteria wastewater treatment does not remove chemicals from the treatment procedure completely – chemicals such as chlorine are still used for disinfection, while aluminum and iron salts are used in the coagulation processes necessary for effective bacterial treatment. However, utilizing microorganisms does significantly reduce the amount of chemicals the treatment facility needs to handle.
Bacteria Gives Facility Managers Control
Bacterial wastewater treatment does not mean simply letting the bacteria get to work and hoping for the best. Instead, facility managers have control over the process. For example, wastewater treatment teams may use microalgaes and other additives, alongside the bacterial microorganisms, to achieve optimal results. They are also able to alter the ratios of different bacterium species involved in the process and remove species from the effluent after the process is complete, ensuring that this effluent does not transmit harmful microbes into the local water table.
How Does Bacteria Wastewater Treatment Work?
Bacteria wastewater treatment fits within the standard wastewater treatment process. The wastewater is pumped into the primary treatment phase, where larger suspended solids are removed. The process of flocculation and coagulation forms flocs – which are larger pieces of solid matter within the wastewater – and sludge. This solid content is denser than liquid water, so it sinks to the bottom of the primary treatment tank where it is removed and treated further.
The wastewater continues on its journey and enters the secondary treatment phase. It is here that bacteria wastewater treatment can begin. Specially cultivated forms of bacteria break down much of the remaining harmful constituents of the wastewater within the secondary treatment tank – typically, this is aerobic bacteria, which feeds off of the oxygen added to the water via the process of aeration. Anaerobic bacteria – i.e., bacteria that can break materials down even without the addition of oxygen – can be used, but aerobic processes are much faster, less costly, and produce fewer harmful byproducts.
After the bacterial treatment is completed, water moves to the final stages of the treatment process, where it is disinfected to remove any excess bacteria. It can then be returned to the nearby water table or even further processed and purified to provide water for drinking and human consumption.
Explore Our Range of Wastewater Treatment Products – Find Exactly What You Need
The Chemtech range is designed for wastewater treatment professionals across a range of facility types – from smaller commercial and residential treatment facilities to larger-scale municipal infrastructure. We offer a variety of bacteria wastewater treatment products, each designed to help wastewater treatment professionals improve efficiency, reliability, and effectiveness while reducing the cost of operation. Take a look at our range and find what you need, or reach out to our team directly to learn more.