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Basically, wastewater is used water, however, it includes substances such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps and chemicals. In homes, this means water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Businesses and industries also contribute their share of used water that must be cleaned.
Fisheries - Clean water is critical to plants and animals that live in water. This is important to the fishing industry, sport fishing enthusiasts, and future generations.
Wildlife Habitats - Our rivers and ocean waters teem with life that depends on shoreline, beaches and marshes. They are critical habitats for hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic life. Migratory water birds use the areas for resting and feeding.
Recreation and Quality of Life - Water is a great playground for us all. The scenic and recreational values of our waters are reasons many people choose to live where they do. Visitors are drawn to water activities such as swimming, fishing, boating and picnicking.
Health Concerns - If it is not properly cleaned, water can carry disease. Since we live, work and play so close to water, harmful bacteria have to be removed to make water safe.
The major aim of wastewater treatment is to remove as much of the suspended solids as possible before the remaining water, called effluent, is discharged back to the environment. As solid material decays, it uses up oxygen, which is needed by the plants and animals living in the water. "Primary treatment" removes about 60 percent of suspended solids from wastewater. This treatment also involves aerating (stirring up) the wastewater, to put oxygen back in. Secondary treatment removes more than 90 percent of suspended solids.