areas will be developed as well. The USDA is investing $183 million in 60 water and wastewater infrastructure projects through Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program (WEP)
, which provides technical assistance and financing to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for small and rural communities. The American Society of Civil Engineering estimates that $3.6 trillion by 2020 must be spent to take care of the backlog of overdue maintenance and the modernization of America’s water infrastructure.
Two of the most common methods of treating wastewater are aerobic and anaerobic treatment. These are often used as part of a multi-stage process that may also include filtration, separation, or chemical treatment.
Aerobic treatment uses the injection or diffusion of a carefully defined ratio of air or oxygen to water to create the ideal environment for microorganisms and other bacteria to thrive. The microorganisms then consume and break down the pollutants in the water. It is very important that the operators of the facility to have accurate readings of the flow of air or oxygen to the different pools or tanks in order to monitor the dissolution of the gases into the water. Inefficiencies and blockages can be located by monitoring the flow of gases in each pipe.
Anaerobic treatment uses the absence of air to allow bacteria that thrive in low-oxygen environments to feed on the waste and break it down. Biogas, or methane, is the main by-product of this process. Anaerobic digesters are used to contain the waste during this process. An outlet allows the slow release of the methane by-product to pass out of the digester to a collection unit. This methane can then be used as a fuel to power equipment at the facility or sold as a power source to consumers.
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