Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why do people want to learn about wastewater treatment?

Wastewater... what's that? Sounds yucky... what an unpalatable topic... Far removed from the drinking water that we are accustomed to... Something best left out of sight and mind... Let someone else handle it... Government, perhaps? Or PUB?

Yes, those will be the typical reactions to wastewater. Then why do people still pay money (albeit with PIC (productivity and innovation credit) grant from the government) to attend a course on wastewater treatment? And no, this is not a WSQ (workforce skills qualifications) course so you don't get the normal WSQ goodies from a typical WSQ course. (Well, neither do you need to fulfil the typical requirements from a WSQ course either.)

A bit of background... I just finished teaching this course over 6 evenings. It gives a broad overview of how wastewater is treatment. Of course, it does not go into design, construction of a wastewater treatment  plant. It is studied from the perspective of a plant operator about several standard unit  operations as follows.
  1. Activated sludge
  2. Sludge digestion
  3. Chlorination
  4. Industrial waste
  5. Coagulation & flocculation
  6. Sedimentation
  7. Filtration
Basic enough for anyone but still, why pay money to study it???

It turns out that most of these participants are working (or business owners) in the water and/or wastewater industries. They have extensive in the areas they are servicing e.g. project, pumps, controllers but they don't have a good idea of the overall picture in a water or wastewater treatment plant. No doubt, some of these participants are interested to expand their business into new areas in the industry. However, the others simply want to understand how their services fit into the overall scheme of things. And there is always the odd participant who does not come from the industry at all. He is there to satisfy his curiosity of this seemingly little known and perhaps confusing industry.

Just in case you also feel that wastewater should be kept out of sight and mind, always remember that what goes in (food, water) must come out somehow (solid waste, liquid waste). And nature does not discriminate between clean water and wastewater. Dispose of your wastewater without care and it will end up as your drinking water. This is especially evident after disasters when every relief agency is fighting to provide drinking water to the victims, yet ignoring the fundamental necessity of waste management. Water borne diseases inevitably break out and supposedly clean water sources are contaminated with waste.

Have a good holiday, folks! But don't forget to keep an eye on where your waste goes.