Wastewater treatment is rarely the most glamorous aspect of architecture and design, yet it’s both unavoidable in a practical sense, and also necessary to take seriously if you’re interested in sustainability.

With that in mind, here are a handful of cutting-edge ways to deal with wastewater that are more eco-conscious than the traditional approaches most of us are used to.

Septic Systems: Affordable and Effective

When it comes to sustainable wastewater treatment, septic systems are a popular choice for a variety of reasons.

As the name suggests, these systems use an underground tank and drain field combination to treat wastewater on-site. The tanks separate solids from liquids, before allowing the liquid portion of the waste into a series of pipes that lead outwards in order to be discharged away from buildings or streams.

Reliable septic system installations have many advantages. For instance, they require minimal maintenance and do not need electricity, making them ideal solutions for off-grid applications. Furthermore, their design is relatively simple, so there’s no requirement for complex engineering calculations. Better yet, they don’t generate any hazardous byproducts like some other treatments might, so it’s a win on all accounts.

Constructed Wetlands: Environmentally Sound on Several Levels

Another way to make wastewater treatment innately sustainable is through the use of constructed wetlands.

These are man-made systems designed to replicate the natural filtration process of wetland ecosystems, using plants and soils that naturally absorb pollutants from water sources.

This type of setup is often used in areas where traditional sewage treatment methods are not suitable or feasible due to lack of space or infrastructure.

Not only do they provide effective pollutant removal, but they also have other benefits. This includes helping to improve air quality, as the wetlands act like carbon sinks, and creating habitats for wildlife such as birds and amphibians

Like septic systems, the maintenance involved is modest, especially once the wetland is properly established. This means as a long-term prospect, it’s eminently appealing.

Biological Filtration: Removing Pollutants from Water Sources

Keeping water sources clean in the first place is a challenge that modern society is having to face up to, and biological filtration is an effective and sustainable solution in this context.

This type of filter uses naturally occurring microorganisms to break down organic matter in wastewater, resulting in cleaner water that can be safely discharged into the environment.

Again, the environmental risks are much lower here than in the case of using man-made chemicals to clean up wastewater and purify water sources.

Moreover, the main advantage of biological filters is their ability to treat a wide range of contaminants. They’re particularly effective at removing nutrients like nitrogen, which cause algal growth and oxygen depletion when present in high levels. They are also equipped to tackle heavy metals like lead or cadmium, which may be found in some industrial wastewaters.

The result is that, with a little bit of biological ingenuity and clever planning, these systems provide a viable option for cutting down the proportion of pollutants being released into local ecosystems, all while without relying on complex mechanical processes or chemicals.

In turn this allows for water sources to be processed and preserved, meaning that they are cleaner for everyone to enjoy right now, and also more robustly protected for future generations as well. At a time when climate change is impacting every industry, architecture included, this needs to be at the top of the agenda.

The Bottom Line

We need to be unified in our efforts to reduce water pollution and also avoid waste when it comes to processing the water supplied to and used within buildings of all sizes, whether residential or commercial. Keeping this in mind at the design phase can make a big difference.


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