Guest blog: what is wastewater, and what can we do about it?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022
by Harman Brar

This is a guest blog post submitted by ENV student, Harman Brar.

What is wastewater?

Wastewater is any water that leaves a home or building through a drain. It could be your toilet, bathtub, or dishwasher. Wastewater is usually discharge into a body of water, after treatment. According to the Region of Waterloo website, each day, the Region of Waterloo wastewater plants treat about 155 million litres of wastewater - enough to fill about 3,600 backyard swimming pools.

What Is The City of Waterloo doing to manage wastewater?

Wastewater can be very expensive to manage, and it takes some time as well. According to the Region of Waterloo website, it takes wastewater around 24 hours to travel through a multi-stage treatment process. The solid material is treated separately from the liquids. Through this process, digestors break down solids and kill of potentially harmful micro-organisms. After the process is done, the liquids are returned to the local river system. The Region of Waterloo owns 13 wastewater treatment plants, seven pumping stations and a de-watering facility. The Region of Waterloo oversees operation of these facilities by the Ontario Clean Water Agency. The regional government is doing their job, but are we?

What can I do to manage wastewater?

As citizens, we all have a collective responsibility to take care of the land which we are living on. Not only will we be helping ourselves, but we’ll also be helping our community thrive. It is extremely important to treat/manage wastewater because it could really affect our health. Removing suspended solids and other pollutants, these wastewater treatment plants prevent water pollution, and in return, we have safe, clean drinking water. There are many ways we can all help the Region of Waterloo, and ourselves, save money on wastewater treatment. Whatever you pour down the sink or flush down the toilet, can be costly. By not thinking about what you are pouring down the sink, or flushing down the toilet, you are risking blocking your pipes in your home, which could lead to costly repairs. The job of the sewer system is to keep things moving, but by flushing wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton swobs, facial tissues, dental floss, etc., it leads to the sewers being blocked. Unfortunately, the city must put money towards solving this issue, all because we weren’t mindful of the things, we flush down our toilet, or pour in our sinks. You could end up causing harm to your own homes too, by creating blockage in your pipes, and leaving a bad smell in your home, yuck! By simply putting these types of products in the garbage, we can avoid making the city pay millions of dollars a year, and save ourselves money as well!

Moving forward

Overall, wastewater treatment is essential to a healthy community. Without treating this wastewater, we are risking our safety and health, and in times like these, we do not need any more health issues. The Region of Waterloo provides 24-hour emergency response to environmental spills, so if you notice any spills that could harm the environment, report it! Let us work together to help keep our community, and the environment safe, and build a better future for the next generation to come.