What Is Wastewater?
Monday, May 10, 2021

Wastewater treatment plants process roughly 34 billion gallons of wastewater per day in the United States. Wastewater management is an integral part of our nation's economy and livelihood.

Without this vital public service, we would face water shortages and exposure to harmful toxins. But what is wastewater?

This guide aims to provide you with all the information you need when it comes to understanding the broad term "wastewater". That way, by knowing what it is, your facility can handle it the right way.

Water and Wastewater

Conventional water is free from impurities and is, in most cases, safe to drink. Treatment plants process and distribute water to a public utility company for use by the general populace.

Sewage treatment is a vital service that allows us to recycle our water and maintain the integrity of our water resources.

Any water used by humans is considered to be wastewater. A facility must process it before it is safe for human use again. A variety of different entities can produce wastewater.

Some of the common ones are individual households, industrial complexes, and runoff from farms or streets.

What Is Wastewater From Households?

Every time you flush your toilet, you are producing wastewater. This water must be treated by a wastewater management plant.

As soon as you use water in your home and it goes out through your sewer line it is considered to be wastewater. This includes the water you shower with, brush your teeth with, cook with, and clean with.

Your lawn and driveway also produce wastewater in the form of runoff every time it rains. We will talk more about runoff wastewater later.

Commercial and Industrial Wastewater

Commercial entities and industrial facilities also produce wastewater. An example of this would be the water a nuclear power plant uses to cool its reactor.

Manufacturing plants and mining operations also use water in many aspects of their daily operations. Once this water has entered the facility, it is discharged as wastewater.


Wastewater can be from both point sources (direct from a sewer line) or non-point sources. An example of a non-point source of wastewater would be runoff from city streets.

Runoff is what happens when there is more water than the land can absorb. This causes a stream of water to flow down the landscape.

Runoff is a form of wastewater that can be particularly derogatory to humans and the environment if it comes from things such as farm fields or industrial facilities.

The best way to process runoff is by having proper drainage systems that direct it to a wastewater treatment plant. Then, a team of wastewater operators can clean the runoff and return it to the natural environment.

Manage Your Wastewater the Right Way

The best way to manage your wastewater is to capture it and direct it to a wastewater treatment plant.

If you are still asking yourself, "What is wastewater?" keep in mind that any water that has been used by humans meets this definition.

If you need someone to process your wastewater, contact us today. That way, you can ensure that the wastewater you produce safely returns to the environment.