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Sources of Wastewater

by | Mar 26, 2022 | Wastewater Management

Domestic Wastewater


The water that is disposed of from homes and workplaces is known as domestic wastewater. It was once known as sewage. Domestic sources of wastewater are toilets, sinks, showers, and washing machines.

Domestic wastewater strength and composition vary hourly, daily, and seasonal, with average strength, influenced by per capita water use, habits, nutrition, living standard, and lifestyle. The fundamental reason is that residential water use varies. Developed-country households consume more water than developing-country households.

Domestic wastewater has a grey color, a musty odor, and a solids concentration of roughly 0.1 percent on a physical level. The solids can be dissolved as well as suspended. Chemical and biological processes can precipitate dissolved solids. When suspended materials are released into the receiving environment, they might form sludge deposits and anaerobic conditions.

Biologically, wastewater comprises a wide range of microbes. Protista, particularly bacteria, algae, and protozoa, are the most significant group in wastewater treatment. In addition, wastewater contains many harmful organisms, most of which come from individuals who have been affected by a disease or who are carriers of disease. Typical fecal coliform concentrations in raw wastewater range from several hundred thousand to tens of millions per 100 ml of sample.

Characteristics of Wastewater

Wastewater is classified based on its physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. The qualities of domestic wastewater differ greatly depending on the sources of wastewater. As a result, the treatment approaches to be employed to meet the compliance discharge criteria will be determined by the unique features.

Because of the enormous number of contaminants, each substance’s properties are rarely considered. Pollutant or characteristic classes are made up of materials that have comparable polluting impacts.

Physical Characteristics:

Color – Fresh sewage is usually brown or greenish, but it becomes black with time.

Odor – Sewage-contaminated wastewater usually has a strong odor.

Temperature – Wastewater can have a higher temperature due to increased biological activity.

Turbidity – Wastewater will have higher turbidity, or cloudiness, due to suspended particles.

Chemical Characteristics:

Wastewater contains a variety of compounds in various forms. The quantity of organic matter in wastewater is measured by the amount of oxygen required to oxidize it, known as chemical oxygen demand (COD). Nitrogen is measured in various ways: nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and organic nitrogen are all examples of nitrogen compounds. Total phosphorus, chlorine (Cl-), sulfates (SO4-2), and heavy metals are also present in their mineral and organic forms.

Biological Characteristics:

BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) — BOD is the quantity of oxygen necessary for microorganisms to stabilize organic materials. Oil and grease are produced by the combustion of food waste and petroleum products. Wastewater includes a large number of microbes.

Sources/Types of Wastewater

Domestic Wastewater- It can come from several wastewater sources, including hospitals, businesses, and other commercial establishments. Water gathered during a storm might be considered household trash. Water discharges from our daily hygiene activities are typical wastewater sources, such as bathing, cooking, and cleaning meat, vegetables, and textiles. Domestic wastewater can be properly treated despite being highly polluted.

Blackwater – Blackwater is a kind of residential wastewater typically generated by toilets, dishwashers, and kitchen sinks. Human feces have been found in this form of effluent. As a result, effluent from flush toilets and even bidets contribute to this problem. Every contaminant that enters our toilets, bathrooms, and sink drains is contained in this water.

Greywater – Feces haven’t polluted this kind of wastewater. Non-toilet units such as baths, washers and dryers, washbasins, laundry, tubs, spas basins, and anything in between produce this type of effluent. This sewage water hasn’t had any urination or human waste added to it.

Greywater, unlike blackwater, carries fewer germs. However, it should be noted that it includes trace levels of dangerous pollutants that might cause sickness if consumed. Greywater is treated differently from blackwater since it does not contain feces or urine. Greywater is usually acceptable for re-use following treatment in a proper wastewater treatment plant.

Domestic sources of wastewater

Effects of Wastewater

Human welfare has been influenced by drinking water and irrigation water quality. Drinking water contamination by feces has repeatedly resulted in waterborne illnesses that have devastated entire cities’ populations. Epidemics of bacterial and viral illnesses caused by infectious agents in drinking water still occur occasionally.

Farm crops die due to contaminated domestic sources of wastewater in the vicinity of septic tanks, agriculture fields, and buildings, with a rise in non-useful plants. They tend to alter the color and odor of groundwater in adverse situations.

The concentration of inorganic elements has grown dramatically due to the increasing discharge of residential wastewater into groundwater and soil. Furthermore, the toxicity levels and heavy metals are far higher than those suggested by the guidelines. Groundwater now contains various harmful chemical compositions in many regions and has become polluted groundwater.

Domestic wastewater is regarded as the primary source of groundwater contamination. There are several hazardous and harmful chemical elements in it where it has a significant impact on public health issues.

Groundwater becomes acidic when the pH value decreases, and sulfates and chlorides contents rise dramatically. As a result of the complicated chemical reactions, the total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration rises.

Industrial Wastewater


This effluent is often generated by manufacturing or commercial facilities. This water has a high concentration of contaminants such as oil, silt, poisonous chemicals, ink, medicines, pesticides, sand, silt, and chemicals, and it may be more difficult to clean than domestic wastewater.

Industrial wastewater isn’t only a by-product of the oil and gas, mining, and chemical sectors. It is also a by-product of the food and beverage manufacturers, the clothing and shoes you wear, the computer you use, and the car you drive.

Any organic and inorganic contaminants to freshwater used in industrial operations must be controlled to conform with existing rules. Before wastewater may be safely released to land, into water bodies, or utilized in plant operations, organic matter, metals, and other contaminants must be removed.

Industrial wastewaters (also agro-industrial wastewaters) are discharges produced by human activities related to the processing and producing raw materials. Agro-industries are sources of wastewaters that can include high levels of pollutants and hence contribute considerably to the overall pollution burden put on the environment.

It’s somewhat paradoxical that the very resources that facilitated industrial growth and urbanization first. They are now threatened sources of wastewater by such development and urbanization as a result of excessive and improper use.

Characteristics of Wastewater

Depending on the wastewater sources, i.e., kind of industry and commodities treated, industrial (including agro-industrial) wastewaters contain a wide range of compositions. Some of these wastewaters are highly organic, quickly biodegradable, mostly inorganic, or possibly inhibiting. TSS, BOD, and COD levels might be in the tens of thousands of mg/L.

Industrial wastewaters may be highly nutrient deficient as a result of these extremely high organic contents. In contrast to sewage, pH levels high beyond the range of 6–9 are also common. High amounts of dissolved metal salts may also be present in these wastewaters. The flow pattern of industrial wastewater streams can differ significantly from that of household sewage since the former is impacted by the nature of manufacturing operations rather than the typical activities seen in a home.

Aside from daily activities, spillages and dumping may seldom occur within the plant but might have serious consequences for the wastewater elements.

Industrial wastewaters are occasionally released into a sewage system that serves commercial and residential properties. Municipal wastewater is a mixture of wastewater streams whose quality varies based on the number of industrial wastewaters in it and the types of enterprises that contribute to industrial wastewater streams.

Sources/Types of Wastewaters

Even for wastewaters from the same sort of business but various places, industrial wastewaters can have extremely distinct properties. The operational processes utilized at each location and the raw materials used are major factors in these variances.

Some of the common sources of wastewaters are from the following industries:

  • Dairy Industry – The dairy business is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet. Dairy wastewater has grown in tandem with the rise in dairy product production. The dairy sector generates a substantial amount of high-strength effluent, with COD levels ranging from 0.38 to 72.5 g/L, BOD levels ranging from 0.19 to 68.6 mg/L, and TKN levels ranging from 1462 mg TKN/L, making them environmentally hazardous if not treated.
  • Tannery Industry – Tanneries are often considered polluting industrial complexes that produce a wide range of high-strength wastewaters. At least 300 kg of chemicals is applied to every tonne of hides during the tanning process. Tannery effluent is one of the most dangerous pollutants produced by industry. Heavy metals, hazardous compounds, chloride, lime with high dissolved and suspended salts, and other contaminants are causing major concerns.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry – The flow and content of pharmaceutical industrial effluent vary greatly. In general, these wastewaters have a high organic matter concentration, with a major portion of them being easily biodegradable (alcohol, acetone, etc.). Organic molecules that degrade slowly and refractory chemicals. Compounds that inhibit and are harmful (antibiotics).
  • Sugar Industry – For every tonne of sugar cane crushed in India, 1,000 liters of wastewater are produced. The wastewater produced by these enterprises has a significant level of pollutants. Sugars, oil and grease, chemicals like chlorides and sulfates, and heavy metals are all found in sugar factory wastewater.
  • Oil Industry – A large spectrum of hydrocarbon species and a lot of free oil contribute significantly to the organics loading in the oil refining business. The variety of complicated hydrocarbons in the petrochemical sector is considerably greater. Industrial wastewaters from here are perhaps the most challenging to treat using biological treatment because there are numerous refractory and inhibitory substances in the wastewater influent.

Effects of Wastewater

Industrial wastewaters affect the purity of water and can obstruct oxygen dissolution. Oil and grease may be found in many industrial wastewaters (O&G). While some of the latter are organic in origin, most are mineral oils.

Whether organic or mineral, both kinds generate interference at the air-water contact and prevent oxygen transmission. The O&G (especially mineral oils) may be inhibitory and interfere with the passage of oxygen from the atmosphere to water.

Industrial discharges, unlike home sewage, can have temperatures that are significantly higher than ambient temperatures. These increase the temperature of the incoming water and decrease the oxygen solubility.

Eutrophication – The discharge of nitrogenous and phosphorous chemicals into receiving water bodies can change the fertility of such bodies of water. Excessive plant growth might result from increased fertility. Algal growth might be a part of the latter. Increased turbidity, oxygen depletion, and toxicity concerns can all result from such expansion in a waterbody.

Such potentially inhibiting or hazardous chemicals can be found in many industrial wastewaters. The presence of such compounds in an environment may cause a population to favor members of the community who are more tolerant of the drugs while excluding others who are not, resulting in biodiversity loss.

effects of wastewater industrial sources




  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.


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