Waste water or sewage is the material that we drain into the sewers and take away for treatment. In addition to the material flushed from toilets, waste water includes the material from other drains in houses, businesses and industries. Although sewage is usually over 99 per cent water, it also contains a variety of natural and synthetic materials that are damaging to health and the environment unless they are treated. The aim of waste water systems and sewage treatment is therefore to take the waste safely away from buildings, to convert it to materials that are not harmful, and to dispose of those materials safely. Traditional systems for waste water treatment are large and expensive, and create materials that require special disposal. It should be noted that some communities question the need for large-scale treatment systems and are seeking and implementing sustainable alternatives. The final sections outline some of the alternative options for the treatment of waste water. The Resource 5 section of this book has useful background information about the concepts, terms and principles of water technology which are relevant to water supplies for towns and buildings.
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