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Wastewater Treatment – A Brief History

For a long time, wastewater treatment was not a big concern in the United States. In the past, companies dumped their wastes into rivers, streams, and the ocean without a second thought as to what the waste might do. The industrial wastewater treatment industry began in the early 1970’s. Pollution from manufacturing was a growing concern in the United States. In response to the pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created on December 2nd 1970.

An example of the growing pollution problem in the United States is the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. The river caught on fire a total of 13 times before 1969 but the incident in 1969 caught the attention of the press and helped spark the movement to create the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act is the legislation that sets the standards for industrial wastewater treatment in the United States.

The Cayuhoga River Fire of 1969 – Photo: Cleveland State University Library

Which states regulate for wastewater treatment?

While every state has companies that produce industrial wastewater, not all states are as strict on regulation. States such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and California (to name a few) are much stricter in regulation then others. Even though some states are not as strict as others, there are still federal regulations that every state must meet. Regulation covers both industrial waste as well as human waste, but for the purpose of this post our focus is industrial waste only.

At Practical Applications Inc, we mainly focus on wastewater treatment in the state of Massachusetts. However, as environmental concerns continue to grow, we see customers from all around the globe.

To learn about wastewater treatment in your state, check out the EPA’s regulations.

Industries that require treatment:

Sources of industrial wastewater include businesses such as:

  • Breweries – waste coming from malt production, wort production, and beer production.
  • Complex Organic Chemicals –  include pesticides, pharmaceuticals, paints and dyes, petro-chemicals, detergents, plastics, paper pollution, etc.
  • Dairy industry – turning milk into consumer products using processes such as chilling, pasteurization, and homogenization.
  • Food industry – contaminants are mostly food particles but in such large amounts that they cause a high oxygen demand on bodies of water.
  • Iron and Steel industry – powerful reduction reactions in blast furnaces produce contaminants such as ammonia and cyanide along with other chemicals.
  • Mines and quarries – produce contaminants in water such as fine particles and hydraulic oils.
  • Nuclear Industry – Produces radioactive wastes.
  • Pharmaceutical industry – produces chemicals and biological wastes.
  • Pulp and paper industry – large amount of amount of lignocellulosic materials and water during the manufacturing process.

In conclusion, wastewater treatment has been around since the 1970’s and is an important part in keeping our environment and communities safe.

For more information about industrial wastewater treatment, visit our blog to read more articles.