Why Is Disinfection Used In Wastewater Operations?

There are three basic stages in municipal wastewater operations: preliminary treatment, secondary treatment, and bio-remediation. Preliminary treatment utilizes physical processes to remove oils, fats, and solids. Secondary treatment combines biological and chemical processes to remove suspended solids, organic matter, and quinolone antibiotics. Biological decomposition and incorporation into microbial communities have been proposed as mechanisms of secondary treatment. The final stage is referred to as activated sludge treatment and is based on the oxidation of organic compounds by microorganisms.

Secondary treatment

Secondary treatment removes suspended and dissolved biological matter from wastewater. It generally follows primary treatment and is a process that uses microorganisms in an aerobic environment to break down the organic matter in wastewater treatment operations. These bacteria can break down organic matter and produce an inorganic end-product, including CO2, NH3, and H2O. There are several aerobic biological processes used in secondary treatment. The rate at which they breakdown sewage varies, but they all produce the same goal: removing biological matter.

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The first step is pretreatment, which involves the removal of solids and bulky matter from wastewater to protect pipelines and improve downstream processes. This stage typically involves sedimentation equipment that separates settling matter from water. This process decreases total suspended solids and reduces biological and chemical oxygen demands. Secondary treatment follows with biological processes that further reduce the amount of solids in wastewater. These processes typically take two to three weeks. These treatments remove contaminants and make wastewater suitable for discharge.


To effectively manage waterborne diseases, wastewater treatment facilities must employ disinfection during wastewater operations. Different methods of disinfection are employed to reduce the number of microbes and bacterial agents in wastewater. These methods eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other organisms from treated water and reduce the amount of chemicals needed for disinfection. Listed below are some of the most common types of disinfection. These processes may also be used for reducing the amount of organic materials in wastewater.

Before the advent of modern wastewater treatment technologies, the concept of dilution was the primary method for treating water. However, as populations grew, so did the incidence of infectious diseases. To protect the public’s health, science and technology advanced to identify the underlying causes of waterborne diseases and developed ways to mitigate these threats. For instance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a Manual on Municipal Wastewater Disinfection for a better understanding of effective methods for disinfecting wastewater.

Micropollutant removal

The enthalpy-driven hydrophobic interaction between micropollutants and sludge is not strictly followed by water. Enthalpic changes are likely to play a more important role. For example, amoxicillin, a very hydrophobic compound, adsorbed almost entirely to sludge. Its negatively charged surface also allows it to bind to negatively charged polysaccharides outside bacterial cell membranes.

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The initial concentration of the compound varies widely. For example, HRT is better than SRT for removing organic material. However, HRT does not perform as well for removing hydrophobic and rapidly biodegradable compounds. The SRT method allows for more diversification of microbial culture, which may increase the degradability of certain compounds. Ideally, SRT should last for more than fifteen days to ensure a healthy microbial community.


The State of New Hampshire is now requiring wastewater operators to have a certificate or CEUs to work on public WWTFs. This course covers the fundamentals of wastewater treatment, including the containment, conveying, and treatment of wastewater before discharge. The course also teaches operators about the importance of preventing pollution and cost efficiency. Training for wastewater operations is offered to operators in a variety of disciplines including Biological Wastewater Operator Training, Physical Chemical Wastewater Operator Training, and Continuing Education Units.

Basic to intermediate-level courses focus on the proper operation of biological wastewater treatment facilities. They cover wastewater terminology, secondary treatment types, safety, and chemical nomenclature. Students must also understand wastewater math and take an exam on the last day of class. This training will be useful for new wastewater operators as well as experienced ones. The course is typically offered in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Applicants must submit their application for certification at least 15 days before the exam date.

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