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Tertiary vs Secondary Wastewater for Groundwater Recharge

Compare and contrast the secondary water treatment methods to the tertiary water treatment
It is a common practice, particularly in the Western United States, to treat wastewater to a very high level, and then inject it back into ground, where it can be used to replenish the groundwater table. Suppose that you are managing a large water district. A local city council member wants to use secondary treated wastewater instead of tertiary treated wastewater to recharge the groundwater basin.


1) Compare and contrast the secondary water treatment methods to the tertiary water treatment (also known as advanced or final water treatment) methods, in the context of the wastewater treatment process. In your answer, consider that there are multiple secondary water treatment methods and multiple tertiary water treatment methods.

2) Discuss the appropriate uses of reclaimed water.

3) Explain whether you would recommend secondary treatment or tertiary treatment for the groundwater recharge, if this water were to end up being used for drinking. Describe the rationale of your choice.

Solution Preview

The terms primary waste water treatment, secondary waste water treatment, and advanced waste water treatment (tertiary) are typically used to refer to different types of wastewater treatment systems. Sedimentation to remove settled suspended solids from wastewater is known as primary treatment. Processes used to remove biochemical oxygen demand by removal of dissolved and fine suspended biodegradable organic matter from wastewater known as secondary treatment. Secondary wastewater treatment systems usually utilize biological treatment processes. Tertiary treatment (also known as advanced wastewater treatment) refers to any treatment process or processes to remove some type of water contamination not removed by primary and secondary wastewater treatment methods. Many advanced treatment systems use chemical wastewater treatment processes, but physical treatment and biological treatment ...

Solution Summary

There are three basic steps of wastewater treatment, primary, secondary, tertiary treatment. Based on treatment methods state your recommendation of tertiary or secondary prior to groundwater recharge. What are the concerns?