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Tertiary Treatment

Updated: Apr 3

Tertiary treatment is the last step in cleaning wastewater after primary and secondary treatment. Its main aim is to remove any remaining contaminants like nutrients, pathogens, and tiny pollutants to meet strict water quality rules before releasing it back into the environment or reusing it. This is crucial in places where clean water is scarce or where environmental laws demand top-level purification.

One common method of tertiary treatment is filtration. Here, treated water passes through different filters like sand, activated carbon, or membranes to catch tiny particles and impurities. Membrane filtration, for instance, uses special membranes with tiny holes to stop particles, bacteria, and viruses, making the water very clean.

Chemical processes are also important in tertiary treatment. For example, chemicals are added to the water to make small particles stick together into larger clumps, called flocs, which can then be easily removed. Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) use strong chemicals like ozone or UV light to break down harmful pollutants into harmless substances, making the water even cleaner.

Removing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus is another important part of tertiary treatment. These nutrients can harm water bodies if there are too many of them. Different methods like biological nutrient removal (BNR), chemical treatments, and membrane filtration are used to lower nutrient levels to safe levels, preventing harmful effects like algal blooms and restoring balance to aquatic ecosystems.

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