4. Approaches for Treating Water and Sewage

Learning Objectives

  • Understand water and wastewater treatment concepts and processes at scales from households to cities, including disinfection by filtration and chlorination, dry sanitation methods, sewage treatment, and the economics of wastewater treatment.

Key Concepts

Scale, sanitation methods, economics

1. Sanitation and clean water

In the western industrialized countries, water is nearly always treated and distributed at the community level to individual households, and human excretion is conveyed by municipal sewers to wastewater treatment plants, with varying levels of treatment before discharge. We take this for granted, often ignorant of the fact that water sanitation was once deemed the greatest medical advances of civilization by the British Medical Journal.

However, much of the Global South lacks these amenities. This submodule examines basic processes by which water is sanitized for drinking and human excreta is handled to prevent disease transmission.

2. Approaches for Treating Water and Sewage

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Key Readings

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  • What are some potential positive and negative social effects of moving from community water taps to household-level delivery of piped water?
  • Thinking again of your city, how much wastewater (including household greywater) is reused? If wastewater is recycled, is it at the municipal level (piped sewage followed by treatment before reuse) or at the household level (like using wash water for garden irrigation). What are the cultural traditions or laws that guide this practice?

Further Readings

Further Readings

Other related International Waters Lessons and Submodules


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