Due to diminishing water resources and increasing costs associated with waste water disposal, along with stricter discharge regulations, phosphate and waste water treatment and management is becoming ever more essential. The municipal sector, which incorporates water and associated wastes originating from residential areas, commercial and industrial operations and institutions, consumes the greatest proportion of water and thus waste water discharge. All water that is consumed by these users must be treated before it is released back into the environment.
Although nature has an innate ability to naturally flush out toxins from the water, the increased pressure from population and industrial expansion has created an urgent requirement to assist nature in the reduction of phosphate and waste water pollutants. Clean water is critical to all aspects of life, not only human health. Fisheries, with the plants and animals contained in these ecosystems, is critically dependent upon clean water. Wildlife habitats, such as oceans and rivers, teem with life that depends upon shoreline, beaches and marshes. Additionally, this natural resource provides a recreation haven for many, with scenic and recreational values of this natural resource held high in the psyche of most humans.
The process of wastewater treatment endeavours to remove as much of the floating solids as possible from the water, which is termed effluent, before it is released back into the environment. If the solid material is not removed, as they decay in the natural environment they utilise precious oxygen which reduces the amount of oxygen available to living plants and animals who call the body of water their home. There are a variety of practices to remove contaminants from wastewater, including physical, chemical and biological. In most instances, a variety of methods are combined to ensure varying types of contaminants are removed, with the variety of systems being termed primary, secondary and tertiary waste water treatments. As well as nutrient removal, some of the more scrupulous treatments include the removal of specific contaminants.
Among the various systems employed to decontaminate the water, a new practice that is emerging involves the filtration of effluents form waste water. This process has become widely accepted for the supplemental removal of suspended solids from waste-water effluents of biological and chemical treatment processes, in addition to the removal of chemically precipitated phosphorus.
Controlling phosphorous discharged from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants is a key factor in preventing eutrophication of surface waters, being one of the major nutrients contributing in the increased eutrophication of lakes and natural waters. The presence of phosphorus can lead to many water quality issues, including increasing algal presence in the water, which raise health concerns and reduce the value of recreational and conservational principles.