Wastewater treatment plants physically and chemically filter sewage so that used water can be reintroduced into lakes, streams, and reservoirs. Such facilities are essential in protecting the environment, renewing vital water resources, and preserving the health of citizens. Professionals in wastewater treatment jobs perform a number of specialized tasks to design, improve, and maintain facilities and systems. Wastewater treatment jobs are held by environmental scientists, civil and chemical engineers, plant operators, and industrial mechanics.
Municipal government bodies often consult environmental scientists to assess the ecological impacts of a wastewater facility. Scientists take soil and water samples from local resources to check for contamination. They can determine the need for new wastewater treatment facilities or suggest ways to improve an existing plant's effectiveness in removing harmful substances from water sources.
Many important wastewater treatment jobs are held by professionals who specialize in civil, municipal, and chemical engineering. Engineers create blueprints and design new treatment facilities that will meet the needs of a city. They research advances in mechanical and chemical treatment processes to implement cutting-edge technology in their designs. An engineer might also be contracted to evaluate structural concerns about an existing treatment plant and make plans on how to improve it.
Engineers usually design wastewater treatment facilities that are comprised of control rooms, large pumps and pipes, and three or more huge tanks for different stages of filtering and waste removal. Raw sewage passes through the series of tanks, where solids are removed and chemical treatments are used to kill microbial parasites and bacteria. From the final tank, clean water is distributed back into public supplies, nearby watersheds, or irrigation canals.
Plant operators and quality control supervisors hold on-site wastewater treatment jobs to oversee the filtration process. Some workers operate machinery or monitor gauges in automated control rooms to direct the process. Quality control supervisors usually check the levels of certain chemicals in different tanks and extract water samples from the final stages to ensure it is free from toxins and bacteria. They are usually required to obtain certification or licensure to handle chemicals and make decisions regarding the effectiveness of treatment procedures.
Many skilled industrial plumbers and mechanics are permanently staffed or contracted for wastewater treatment jobs. Professional mechanics and plumbers may be needed when control room equipment suddenly breaks down or a large blockage disrupts water flow through pipes and tanks. Since most plants operate around the clock, repairmen and women often assume on-call status to deal with emergency situations whenever they occur.