Have you ever wondered where the water goes after you flush?
In College Station, that wastewater will go to either the Carter's Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, or the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, depending on where you live. Each of these award-winning plants is designed to remove organic matter, trash, and disease-causing microorganisms so that the effluent, or treated wastewater, may be safely discharged into the environment. All water leaving College Station's wastewater treatment facilities must meet regulatory limits set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the permits for each wastewater treatment facility. Wastewater in College Station is treated using screening and grit removal (to remove grease, grit, and large objects), aeration, clarification, biosolids digestion and dewatering, and disinfection.
The wastewater treatment process begins at the Headworks, where floating material, oils and greases, sand and silt and trash -EVERYTHING that gets flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain - are removed from the raw wastewater for disposal at the landfill. Screw lift pumps at the Headworks lift raw wastewater up a steep slope so that the wastewater travels through the rest of treatment process by gravity flow.
The ONLY things that should be flushed are human waste and toilet paper. Keep everything else, such as Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) and wipes of any kind (even if they're marked "flushable") OUT of the sanitary sewer.
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College Station uses biological processes rather than harsh chemicals to remove organic matter present in the wastewater before discharging the clean effluent into the receiving water body. Through an "activated sludge" process, bacteria, protozoa, and macro invertebrates feed on the pathogenic organisms and organic matter entering from raw sewage eventually cleaning the colloidal matter from the raw wastewater.
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The final step before treated wastewater can be released back to the environment is disinfection. Disinfection is needed to inactivate harmful microorganisms and protect both public health and the health of the receiving stream.
The decision about which disinfectant to use must take into account several factors, including treatment goals, regulatory requirements and cost. Many wastewater treatment plants still use chlorine for disinfection, followed up with additional treatment to remove the chlorine before the effluent is returned to the environment. College Station's wastewater is disinfected with ultraviolet (UV) light, because we have found that UV light treatment is safer and less expensive for our operators to use than chlorine. The UV light disrupts the genetic material of disease-causing organisms, preventing the organisms from reproducing and spreading disease. Wastewater effluent disinfected with UV light can be safely discharged directly into the receiving stream with no further treatment.
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WORKING WITH NATURE TO PRODUCE CLEAN WATER
College Station's Wastewater Treatment plants utilize biological processes to remove organic matter present in the sewage before discharge into the receiving water body. Through careful analysis of microorganisms, proper aeration, and meticulous balance of solids (food and microbes), what was once a potentially dangerous waste product, raw sewage, has been transformed into clean water and a valuable soil amendment.
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