Wastewater consists of liquid and solid wastes from domestic residences, commercial properties, industrial plants and agricultural facilities. Wastewater contains a variety of pollutants in various concentrations and therefore needs to be properly treated or the wastewater will be a hazard to public health and the environment.

Wastewater is characterized based on its physical, chemical and biological composition. Wastewater characteristics vary by industry and the specific characteristics will determine the treatment technology used to meet the requirements for compliance with discharge standards.

Aerial view of waste water treatment plant with tanks
Aerial view of waste water treatment plant with tanks

Physical characteristics of wastewater

  • Color: Fresh wastewater is usually brown and pale yellow, but turns black over time
  • Suspended solids(TSS): These are insoluble solids suspended in the liquid and visible to the naked eye
  • Turbidity: the turbidity of wastewater can be high due to the presence of suspended solids
  • Temperature: The temperature of the wastewater will be higher due to more biological activity
  • Odor: The wastewater may have an unpleasant odor due to the reaction of various components

Chemical properties of wastewater

  • Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD): This is a measure of the amount of organic matter in the wastewater based on the oxygen required to oxidize it
  • Total Organic Carbon (TOC) – TOC is a measure of the carbon in organic material
  • Nitrogen: it is measured in different forms: nitrite, nitrate, ammonia and organic nitrogen (the amount of nitrogen in organic compounds)
  • Phosphorus: it is usually measured in its mineral and organic forms, total phosphorus
  • Chlorine (Cl-)
  • Sulfate (SO4-2)
  • Heavy metals
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Arsenic (As)
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Nickel (Ni)
  • Chromium (Cr)
  • Silver (Ag)

Wastewater biological parameters

  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)BOD is the amount of oxygen required to stabilize organic matter using microorganisms.
  • Oil and grease – mainly from food waste and petroleum products
  • Microorganisms in wastewater – Wastewater contains the following:
    • microorganisms
    • Bacteria
    • Protozoa
    • Algae
    • Viruses
    • Rotifers
    • nematodes

GL Environment’s extensive water and wastewater treatment experience as an integrated supplier to the water treatment industry can help you adapt your industry’s specific applications with the appropriate treatment methods.

Our Apure brand water quality monitoring instruments provide continuous and accurate measurement of various wastewater parameters, as well as customized IOT solutions for water quality monitoring to aid intelligence. KUOSI, a brand of water treatment equipment under GL Environment, supplies wastewater screens, dissolved air flotation units, polymer preparation systems, filter presses, volute screw presses, sodium hypochlorite generator systems and more, feel free to contact us for equipment quotes or consulting solutions.