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Wastewater

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OVERVIEW

“Wastewater” refers to contaminated water that cannot be consumed. “Wastewater” is used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial, or agricultural activities, surface runoff or stormwater, and any sewer inflow or sewer infiltration. As a term, “wastewater” includes both industrial and sanitary (i.e., municipal) categories. Thus, there are industrial wastewater treatment systems and sanitary/municipal wastewater collection and treatment systems. “Sewage” is wastewater that is produced by a community of people (i.e., domestic/municipal wastewater), which mostly consists of greywater (from sinks, bathtubs, showers, dishwashers, and clothes washers), blackwater (the water used to flush toilets, combined with the human waste and toilet paper that it flushes away), and soaps/detergents. Thus, this term is associated with municipal wastewater systems. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that “the collection and treatment of domestic sewage and wastewater is vital to public health and clean water. It is among the most important factors responsible for the general level of good health enjoyed in the United States. Sewers collect sewage and wastewater from homes, businesses, and industries and deliver it to wastewater treatment facilities before it is discharged to water bodies or land, or reused.”

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