Types of Waste Water

The composition of water changes as it travels from its source.
••• water drop is falling down and impact with water surface image by Alexander Potapov from Fotolia.com

As water flows through the surface of the earth, it takes on many of the characteristics of the materials that it encounters. In its travels, water picks up minerals and organic matter from vegetation or soil, which causes the once-pure water to harbor natural impurities. Two categories of wastewater are used or discarded by people: domestic and industrial.

Domestic Wastewater

Although domestic wastewater originates from domestic household activities, it can also include water that is discharged from commercial and business buildings and institutions, along with ground water. Water that collects from a storm can also be present in domestic wastewater. The source of domestic wastewater typically consists of liquid discharge from sanitary facilities, bathing, laundry and cooking. This type of water can be treated due to its characteristics.

Industrial Wastewater

Industrial wastewater, which originates from the manufacturing process, can be more difficult to treat due to the examination that must take place at an industry-based level. Industrial sources of wastewater contain contaminants such as:

  • oils
  • pharmaceuticals
  • pesticides
  • silt
  • chemicals
  • other byproducts


Wastewater, which is constantly changing, is classified as having set particles, or colloids, which are materials that do not settle readily, along with solids that are in a dissolved state. It also contains large numbers of microscopic organisms that are mostly bacteria, which are capable of consuming the organic components of fats, proteins and carbohydrates that force changes to the wastewater.


Efficient and effective treatment for wastewater requires that it pass through a network of pipes, pumps and pump stations within a specific amount of time. The collection of water needs to be done with a velocity of at least two feet per second to ensure that solids are not settling and clogging up the pipes, causing odors. Manholes at every 300-500 feet allow inspection and cleaning of the sewer. In low-land areas, a pump station is typically installed to lift the wastewater to a higher elevation to ensure a flow that works with gravity.


About the Author

Meghan McCoy began her journalism career in 2007, covering topics such as education, fitness entertainment and the arts. Her articles have appeared in "The Scottsdale Times," "The Apache Junction News," "The Cape Coral Daily Breeze" and "Charlotte Woman." McCoy received a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in mass Communication and sociology from Arizona State University.

Photo Credits

  • water drop is falling down and impact with water surface image by Alexander Potapov from Fotolia.com