Why is Water Treatment Important and What are the Processes Involved?

Water is essential for survival. But it is a well-known fact that the distribution of water isn’t equitable. Water treatment solutions are developed to save humans from the scarcity of water. These solutions help people get access to water for various purposes.

Treating water is essential to save humans, other living organisms, industries, and the environment from the adverse effects of untreated water. Untreated water is a rich source of pathogens like algae, viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. It also adversely affects industrial processes and the life of industrial equipment. Water, when untreated, also negatively affects the environment.

What is water treatment?

Water gets treated to increase the quality of water and hence make it ideal for a specific purpose. The purpose can be anything from obtaining potable water to industrial use to replenishing the natural water table.

When water is treated, it is made free from contaminants or impurities that reduce water quality. In some cases, it becomes impossible to remove certain impurities completely. Then the concentration of the impurity is reduced to lessen the adverse effect.

What are the processes involved in treating water?

The standard water treatment involves the following steps:

  • Coagulation- In this process, alum, also known as aluminium sulfate, or polymer, is added to the water. This results in coagulation or sticking together of dirt. They form bigger and heavier particles called flocs. The process of filtration then removes flocs.
  • Sedimentation- This is the next step involved in treating water. In this process, the speed of the water is controlled. So the floc particles that remain slowly get settled down. These settled down floc is called sludge, and they are removed through pipes.
  • Filtration- In this process, water is made to move through a filter made of anthracite or gravel. This filter collects suspended impurities in water and further cleans the water. This filter is regularly cleaned by pumping water backward to remove any impurities stuck to it.
  • Disinfection- This process involves clearing the water of any infection-causing microbes. This is done by chlorinating the water. Chlorine disinfects water and makes it ready to be sent through distribution channels.
  • Sludge Drying- In this process, the sludge from sedimentation is then moved to sludge-drying lagoons. Sludge drying lagoons are set up in tropical or subtropical areas and are a popular sludge drying method.
  • Fluoridation- This process involves the treatment of water with fluoride ions. But the levels are controlled to save people from the problems of excess fluoride in drinking water. One of the most common side effects is tooth decay.
  • pH rectification- In this process, the pH of the water is balanced by adding lime to the water. Balancing the pH is essential to protect water channels and plumbing systems from getting corroded.

What are some challenges faced by water treatment solutions? How are they tackled?

Constituents of emerging concerns, also called CECs, are among the rising concerns when it comes to treating water. Pesticides, beauty products, and other kinds of chemicals called PFAS fall under these categories. These are contaminants that can’t be eliminated by water, heat, or even oil.

CECs seep into the ground deep and hence can contaminate drinking water.

So traditionally, treatments are futile when dealing with these new chemicals. Treatment solutions that use powdered or activated carbon and ion exchange resin are known to be effective in this case.

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