What  Can  You  Do  to  Protect  Local  Waterways?
Wastewater Treatment 101

4 Many communities have a wastewater treatment
  plant that incorporates a series of processes to
  remove pollutants from water used in homes,
  small businesses, industries, and other facilities.
  All wastewater first goes through the primary
  treatment process, which involves screening
  and settling out large particles.

4 The wastewater then moves on to the
  secondary treatment process, during which
  organic matter is removed by allowing bacteria
  to break down the pollutants. The treated
  wastewater is then usually disinfected with
  chlorine to remove the remaining bacteria.

4 Some communities go one step further and put
  the wastewater through an advanced
  treatment process to reduce the level of
  pollutants of special concern to the local
  waterbody, such as nitrogen or phosphorus.
  After this step, the treated water finally flows
  through pipes back to a local water body.
Flush Responsibly!

Don't pour household products such as
cleansers, beauty products, medicine, auto
fluids, paint, and lawn care products
down the drain. Properly dispose of them
at your local household hazardous waste
   Wastewater treatment facilities are designed
   to treat organic materials, not hazardous
   chemicals. If you pour hazardous chemicals
   down the drain, they might end up in your
   local rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

Dispose of excess household grease (meat
fats,  lard, cooking oil, shortening, butter
and margarine, etc.) diapers, condoms,
and personal hygiene products in the
garbage can.
   These materials can clog  pipes, and could
   cause raw sewage to overflow in your
   home or yard,  or in public areas. Overflows
   often occur during periods of high rainfall or
   snowmelt and can result in basement
   backups, overflows at manholes, or
   discharges directly to rivers, lakes, and
   coastal waters.

Don't pour used motor oil down the drain.
   Used motor oil can diminish the
   effectiveness of the treatment process, and
   might allow contaminants to be discharged.
   The contaminants could pollute local
   waterways or harm aquatic life.

If you're a dark room hobbyist, dispose of
spent fixer, developer, and other
photographic chemicals in separate
containers and transport them to a
hazardous waste facility.
   Like household hazardous wastes and used
   motor oil, photographic chemicals can
   interfere with the wastewater treatment
   process and could result  in pollutants being
   discharged into local waterways.

          Not Down
    X cleaners
    X beauty
    X medicine
    X auto fluids
    X paint
    X lawn care
X grease
X diapers
X condoms
X feminine hygiene
X motor oil
X photographic
Does  All  the
Dirty  Water
 For more information on
the wastewater treatment
 process, please contact
your local health or public
works department. Please
 visit www.epa.gov/owm
 for more information on
 wastewater treatment.
      United States
      Environmental Protection
                    December 2002
                                        •ocect me
What You Flush or Pour Down Your
  Drain Affects the  Rivers, Lakes,
        and Coastal Waters in
            Our Community
                                                     Where does the water go after
                                                  you flush the toilet or drain the sinks
                                                             in your home?
                                                    When the wastewater flushed from your toilet
                                                   or drained from your household sinks, washing
                                                  machine, or dishwasher leaves your home, it flows
                                                  through your community's sanitary sewer system to
                                                 a wastewater treatment facility. The wastewater from
                                                   homes, along with wastewater from businesses,
                                                 industries, and other facilities, is treated by a variety of
                                                processes (see inside for more information) to reduce or
                                                             remove pollutants.

                                                What happens to the treated water when
                                                it leaves the wastewater treatment plant?
                                                The treated wastewater is released into local waterways
                                                where its used again for any number of purposes, such
                                                  as supplying drinking water, irrigating crops, and
                                                            sustaining aquatic life.