How wastewater gets treated
Turning waste into something clean and renewable is an amazing process. At our six wastewater treatment facilities, we take what gets flushed and washed down the drain, and transform it into treated effluent that replenishes our underground aquifers and waters parks or golf courses.
It all begins in your home
Every drop of water that you rinse down the drain or flush enters the sewer system below your home. Most of the wastewater system is gravity-fed, which means all the waste flows down toward its ultimate destination, the wastewater treatment facility.
The lift station
As gravity helps waste flow through the system and closer to the treatment facility, it typically encounters a lift station. These engineering marvels can take millions of gallons of waste and — literally — boost it so it can continue flowing down to the treatment facility. Typically, several different sewer lines connect to lift stations.
Screening and filtering
Once inside the wastewater treatment facility, the waste is screened and we remove any solid or foreign material that doesn't belong in the sewer system. We then continue filtering and screening until all the solids are removed, dried out, and sent to a local landfill. We focus on the liquid, because that's where the water is.
That liquid is full of microorganisms that we use at all of our wastewater treatment facilities to feast on nitrogen and ammonia, helping to break down any remaining organic matter and take the yucky stuff out of the water. Once they've finished their work, we separate the microorganisms from the liquid.
In our Anthem wastewater treatment facility, the liquid gets further purified in a membrane filtering system that looks like gigantic spaghetti noodles. Its microscopically sized filters make the water clean enough to reuse at local parks and golf courses. If you see purple pipes at your park, it means that park is watered using A+-rated effluent from our treatment facility.
More testing and filtering
Before we finish, we do extra tests and filtering to make sure the waste is gone, and the resulting treated water is ready to be reused.
After all that work, we're left with a product called treated effluent that can recycled in a variety of ways. At EPCOR, we're proud to recycle 90 to 95% of the effluent we create. Here's how we reuse it:
Recharging: Deep underground, there are aquifers full of water. Eventually, that water can reach your home to help you water your lawn or wash your dishes. We can recharge the aquifer with treated wastewater. The process is slow and gradual, and the earth functions as a final filter.
Recycling: We also recycle the treated effluent by using it to water parks, golf courses or area green belts. Depending on your community, you might use a park that's watered using high-quality wastewater.
Reusing: Our wastewater treatment facilities are complex and contain a lot of machinery that needs cooling. We reuse some of the treated wastewater to help operate our facilities. In addition, EPCOR partners with other municipalities to help cool the reactors at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.