Providing clean, safe water to the developed world and underprivileged communities is not just a task carried about by civil and structural engineers, but a moral obligation in order to improve the lives of our fellow human beings, and the lives of those less fortunate. Ensuring that everyone has access to clean water takes a significant amount of planning on a civil engineer’s part, but doing so should always be considered a priority.
The process of wastewater treatment involves both mechanical and biological methods of sanitizing and maintaining high-quality water. In developed countries, this is done by developing intricate plumbing systems that delivers this contaminated water to a processing plant where it is then sanitized and refiltered back into the public water supply. During this process, any solid matter found within the water is filtered, and can actually be redistributed as biomaterials for fertilizer, among other beneficial products.
Civil engineers help these processing plants by regulating the quality of water repurposed, ensuring it is meeting compliance standards, and it is safe for the general population to drink. Should the plant not be meeting these standards, civil engineers can survey the ins and outs of its location and practices to find out why the water being redistributed is still undrinkable. Water contamination can include things like high levels of copper, pesticides, bacteria, and sediment from lakes or rivers.
The design of these processing plants and their inner workings is also something typically done by civil engineers. From water treatment to sewage systems, professionals in this industry must accurately design and maintain these structures to ensure functionality, while receiving the proper permits and licenses necessary to carry out these tasks. Many civil engineers will work alongside state agencies to monitor the processing plant’s practices, ensuring they operate under the standard guidelines, as well as work with third-party companies that that particular plant may have a contract with.
In the event of a water-related emergency, many plants will go to civil engineers for help. This can be anything from extremely low water levels to faulty equipment within the plant, or significantly contaminated water supplies. Engineers in this field are well equipped with the skills necessary to come up with fast solutions, getting the processing plant back up to speed.
The role a civil engineer holds in water treatment is a crucial one. Designing and maintaining the processing plants responsible for decontaminating the public water supply is a task not to be treated lightly, and the professionals assigned to it understand the importance of their duties.