Solutions to Contaminated Water: Removal & Purification

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over some of the many ways by which contaminated water can either be removed outright from an area or simply be purified without removal.

Contaminated Water

Water that we swim in, shower in, or drink can be contaminated with all sorts of substances. Some may naturally leach into the water from the earth. Other substances may be there as a result of human activities. These contaminants range from elements like lead to chemicals like DDT to bacteria like E. coli. In this lesson, you'll find out about the general ways by which contaminated water may be removed and/or purified.

Removal

Let's say that you have a large amount of contaminated water which you don't intend to purify (or cannot) and certainly do not need. What do you do with all that water? There is more than way to dispose of that water or remove it. The method used will depend on precisely what has contaminated the water; here are some possible removal methods:

  • The water can be discharged directly to surface water. The types of water that can be discharged to surface water include those from a storm-water system, a drinking water system, or water that was contained and treated but placed into temporary storage of some sort.
  • The water can be disposed of via a wastewater treatment plant. This may mean utilizing publicly or privately owned water treatment facilities.
  • The water may need to be transferred to a hazardous or medical/infectious waste facility.
  • The water may be allowed to be injected underground and disposed of that way.

Purification

There are also numerous ways by which water can be purified. This depends on whether or not the method is employed by a facility or by an at-home filter. Each method has its own pros and cons in terms of what it can remove and how cost-effective that is.

Water can be purified at large water treatment facilities. Here large particles and dirt can be easily removed via processes like sedimentation, where large particles settle out of the water. These same facilities can also help remove infectious organisms and chemicals via filtration. Speaking of chemicals, chemicals like chlorine can be added to the water by these treatment facilities in order to kill infectious organisms.

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