The environment is a key aspect of life, the air we breathe, the water we drink, even the food that sustains the living organisms are extracted from the environment. Environmental engineering provides an opportunity for engineering principles to be used to maintain the ecosystem. Additionally, it also provides an opportunity to restore the original status of polluted land and also provide alternative energy sources that are environmentally friendly among others. Environmental engineering is divided into different sub-sections; these are water and waste water treatment, development of new technologies to protect the environment, air, and water pollution control among others (Zhou and Smith 247). One of the sub-sections that have captured my interest is waste water treatment. Approximately 97% of water on earth is salty, leaving only 3% fresh for drinking. Additionally, 70% of the human body is water, thus considering the ratio of people globally against the 3% fresh water, there is necessity to adopt new ways of recycling water (Zhou and Smith 250).
Water is life; it is a primary component in the body. Globally, two out of ten people have access to clean and safe water for drinking. At the same time, approximately 24 gallons of water are used to flush toilets every day. The concept of recycling water for drinking is an uncommon and criticized by people who dread the idea of drinking water recycled from wasted water. Advanced wastewater treatment uses additional steps to remove effluents of higher quality than normal (Zhou and Smith 255). Despite the high costs used in advanced treatment, it is worth every penny because the water that is refined is of good quality.
The processes involved in advanced wastewater treatment include reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis involves extracting all the dissolved water minerals and deionizes it to its original state. It is an advanced method that is commonly used to turn salty ocean water into fresh water that is safe to drink (Zhou and Smith 262). Another process in advanced water treatment is membrane filtration that is widely used in biotechnological and chemical processes. It is divided into different categories, based on size of particles that can be separated. That is, microfiltration, nano-filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultrafiltration (Zhou and Smith 258). As discussed above, reverse osmosis primarily deals with desalination and deionization of water. Microfiltration on the other hand removes all bacteria or microorganisms and suspended particles. Nano-filtration is a technique that deals with water softening, micro-pollutant removal and decolouring processes. Ultrafiltration separates species according to molecular size. Generally, membrane filtration is a widely recognized process especially in water treatment plants, with each membrane appropriate for different purposes. Another process behind advanced wastewater treatment is water oxidation that involves separating water into two elements that is hydrogen and oxygen. It is carried out mostly in treatment plants that need oxygen for other purposes like filling up oxygen tanks for medical purposes.
The Safe drinking water act of 1974 permits every citizen a right to access quality drinking water. It also empowers environmental protection agencies to set standards that prevent exposure to contaminations in water systems (Zhou and Smith 260). This act has provided a leeway for high standard water recycling centers that ensure good quality water is produced. It is a step up especially in the field of environmental engineering, specifically wastewater treatment. Most treatment plants are able to acquire sophisticated and more advanced equipment that facilitate proper water treatment. The government has also participated in the facilitation of financial assists whenever possible to ensure the fresh supply of water is sufficient.
Every child when growing has a dream of changing the world. I knew that studying engineering would make my dream possible, but specifically environmental engineering. It is a thrilling subject especially after learning how microorganisms are able to decontaminate millions of gallons of water, making it unsafe for consumption. The presentation by our guest speaker in the area of water reuse and recycle for sustainability of human population is what inspired me to pursue this field. People need to recognize the importance of our ecosystem, the need to manage the minimal resources. The human population is always increasing, but the resources at our disposal are becoming less every day. My dream of changing the world is bound to come true given that water is a rare commodity. In the field of waste water treatment, I have the opportunity to contribute to human survival on earth. I have the opportunity of transforming the unused water such as salty ocean water into usable form. Such contributions are made possible in the field of environmental engineering.
In summary, advanced water treatment is a sure way recycling already used water to a state where it can be consumed without posing any threat to life. However, there have been critics on the concept and the benefits of having quality water for drinking. Many companies and treatment plants have now embraced the different techniques of recycling water in large volumes to ensure sufficient supply.
Zhou, H. and Smith, Daniel W.. “Advanced technologies in water and wastewater treatment.” Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 1.4 (2002): 247-264.