Where does all the Human Waste Go?

Human WasteSeveral decades ago, many cities did not have sewage systems. That means all the stuff you usually flush down in toilets would be thrown on the streets, which can cause high pollution in the environment. It is no surprise to find some urban areas, especially in developing countries, without sewage treatments. So, where does the human waste go after flushing a toilet? It is simple. The waste is directed to a nearby river, which is a big concern when it comes to environmental conservation and public hygiene.

A sewage system is a great investment that should be a priority in all cities. Given the constant increase in human population, there is tons of human waste generated on daily basis. With a sewage treatment facility, managing that enormous waste is easier and efficient. Therefore, let us look at how a sewage treatment system works.

sewage system

Sewage treatment can be broken down into two classes; storm sewers and sanitary sewers. Storm sewers are less polluted because they contain materials that are washed away by surface runoff. Sometimes, treatment may be done to remove substances like vehicle oil. On the other hand, sanitary sewers contain human waste and other rotten substances. The treatment process involves three stages, which are explained below.

Primary sewage treatment

sewage treatmentBasically, your house is connected to a sewer through pipes. Once people flush the toilet, the waste flows through the pipes and released into a treatment plant. Here, it goes through a series of filters. The large pieces are filtered out during this stage, but there are several filters that eliminate pieces depending on their sizes. Once the sewage is separated into liquid and sludge, the solid stuff may be taken to a landfill.

Secondary sewage treatment

This stage gets rid of nasty odors and bacteria from the water and sludge. It normally uses the bacteria to feed on the available organic compounds and nutrients. Water, inorganic salts, and carbon dioxide are left behind. The fundamental treatment of the sludge is known as digestion whereby it is ‘eaten’ up by the bacteria. The sludge is pumped into digesters (usually concrete digesters) containing bacteria, which feed on it to release methane. Any remaining water is drained, and then the dry sludge can be used as fertilizer.

Tertiary sewage treatment

This is the third or last treatment stage that gets rid of all stuff from the water. The water is cleaned thoroughly through a series of chemical treatments to restore a normal taste and odor. Phosphates and nitrates are usually the most harmful chemicals left, and therefore rotifers and algae are used to absorb the chemicals. The water is sterilized and then released into water sources.

Now you have understood the basic sewage treatment, but some of you might be asking if the type of toilet may affect the level of sanitation in their homes. Alright, there are many types of toilets on the market. Basically, an ideal toilet should be able to flush all the waste without wasting water.

Let us look at a few tips to help you when buying a new toilet;

Toilet bowl shapes

Toilets come in two types of bowl shapes; elongated and round front. The elongated models have more options that offer a comfortable seat and usually require a bigger space. If you have limited space, the round front toilets can be your better option.

Toilet design

The three basic designs include one-piece, two-piece, and wall mount. One-piece models are typically expensive, though they are attractive and easy to clean. Two-piece models are the most common, but they come in a variety of prices to choose from. Wall-mount toilets are less popular, and their cost is also high. They have an advantage because you can clean the area under the toilet and these toilets are compact enough to fit in small bathrooms.

Toilet height

A standard toilet height is usually 15 feet from the ground level to the top of the toilet seat. The majority of people prefer the standard height, but there are other toilets with different height to suit the needs of various people. For instance, a person with a disability may prefer a toilet height of 17 feet. In other words, the choice of a toilet may depend on an individual comfort height.

One flush/two flush

The toilet designs have improved significantly over the years. With the traditional low flush toilets, you had to flush twice in order to get the stuff washed down. One flush toilet means it has enough pressure to get rid of the waste with a single flush. The dual flush toilets are more improved options because they have additional features to save water. A full flush uses about 1.6 gallons while a partial flush uses about 0.8 gallons of water.

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