Friday, June 23, 2017

Where Does our Used Water Go?

You wake-up in the morning, you do number 1, maybe even number 2. You flush, take a shower, brush your teeth, and thank God that your household has access to clean water.

But what we don’t normally think about is where all that used water goes.

We use up all this clean water in our everyday lives to clean ourselves and our households, but we don’t stop to think how much wastewater we create in a day.

A few days ago when I became aware of this thought, I honestly felt a sense of panic. It’s like realizing that you misunderstood the essay question when you’ve already passed your paper to your professor.

So where does all this wastewater go? Are we just constantly dumping all the dirty water back to Mother Earth? Eeewww… Are we already swimming in our own filth?

Maynilad Water Treatment Center

Thankfully Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) helped ease my slight panic by taking us for a tour of their Wastewater Management Plant in Paco, Manila. Aha! There is hope for the motherland!

Urban Water Cycle Maynilad

First, it would be wise to understand how the urban water cycle goes.

The water from the bodies of water like the sea evaporates into the sky, condenses into the clouds, and becomes rain; the dams catch the rain. Water from the dam goes through water treatment, is gathered by the reservoir, and is distributed to households and buildings for us to use.

When we use the water for cleaning and stuff, it becomes wastewater and goes down the drain, into our septic tanks. And here’s when the wastewater treatment begins.

When septic tanks are desludged by Maynilad, (Maynilad does this service at no extra cost! More details later on), it is taken to one of their Wastewater Treatment Plants for cleaning. 

When we were there at the treatment center, we climbed up the tanks to see the step-by-step treatment process undergone by the wastewater. It was surprising that it wasn’t as smelly as I thought it would be.

Here’s a peek at the different treatment stages. As you can see the water is dirty and dark.

Maynilad Water Treatment

Maynilad Water Treatment

Maynilad Water Treatment

Maynilad Water Treatment

Maynilad Water Treatment

This part strains solid stuff away from the dirty water. So please don’t throw away weird stuff down the drain. Like sanitary napkins and… you know… other stuff…

So anyway, from that murky color….

Maynilad Water treatment

To this! We watched as one of the workers scooped up this treated wastewater from one of the tanks. See how clear it is compared to when it first came in? It’s like magic!

So the clean, treated wastewater goes back to the nearest water bodies, and thus begins another urban water cycle.  While the wastes per se (you know, the number 2s), are taken to another Maynilad plant to be converted into biosolids / fertilizers for agricultural use.

Why do we need to treat wastewater?

According to a study by University of the Philippines, Maynilad customers consume about 35 gallons a day per person. Eighty percent (80%) of that becomes wastewater. 

Imagine all of that going back into different bodies of water, or contaminating our groundwater.

Just imagine all the sickness we can get when wastewater comes back to us untreated. From diarrhea, hepatitis, leptospirosis, among others. Not to mention how bad it will be for the environment.

Thankfully, Maynilad provides services to protect our communities and the environment:

Plant Operation and Network Maintenance
Provide sewer service connections
Maintain / repair sewer network
Attend to customer complaints
Operate and maintain wastewater treatment facilities
Plan for sewerage coverage expansion

Septic Tank Desludging
Provide regular cleaning of septic tanks
Operate and maintain septage treatment plants
Attend to customer complaints
Fleet maintenance
Plan for sanitation coverage expansion

With these services, they’ve helped my mind become at peace knowing that the dirty water we produce everyday is not just being thrown back directly to mother earth.

Aside from making its way back to the urban water cycle, the wastewater can also help save clean water. For instance, some fire stations or barangays get treated wastewater from Maynilad and use it to clean their streets, instead of using clean water.

Can you just imagine how much clean water is saved when wastewater is used for these tasks?

On our part, of course, we also need to make some effort in terms of wastewater management. So what can we do?

For one, stop throwing trash in the toilet. Like used napkins, a bunch of tissue paper at a time, or anything solid that may clog the toilet. Clogging the toilet will result to overflowing of your toilet (eeeeew) that can result to sickness due to exposure to wastewater; or clog the sewage pipes that can result to bursting of pipes under the ground; and not to mention the expenses needed for damage control.

Estero de Santibanez

Take for example Estero de Santibañez. The tributary here before was filled with trash. But because of the great teamwork of the people living around it, they all took it upon themselves to help clean the river, and to keep it clean.

Now, they can actually fish for food here! It’s amazing! Other people actually come here to fish.

Estero de Santibanez

This cleaning movement was started and is still being implemented by River Warriors in the community. Though there are a lot of stuff outside their houses, I did not see any trash lying around. Not a candy wrapper in sight. It’s really amazing!

Another thing we can do to help, especially for sewered areas, is to ask Maynilad how you can connect to their sewer lines to ensure that your wastes are properly discharged.

girl wearing hard hat

Hopefully this post will help spread awareness to different households so that we can be more conscious about how we can help in wastewater management. Responsible water use and proper trash disposal is key for the good of our kids and for the whole family! 

Oh, and I didn’t forget! Here are the details on how to avail of Maynilad Septic Tank cleaning at no extra cost. Happy siphoning!

As mentioned earlier, Maynilad offers septic tank cleaning at no extra cost! To avail of this service, the following factors should be checked:
1.) Must be domestic quality wastewater. Meaning this only applies to residents, or semi-business customers
2.) You can avail of the service provided that you have not been served for the past 5-7 years.
3.) Your Maynilad account should be updated
4.) Your septic tank should be readily available. Meaning:
- Septic tank manhole should have at least 0.5m x 0.5m, or 2x2 feet.
- Your road / street should be accessible for Maynilad’s desludging equipment
- The septic tank manhole should already be readily accessible / open for the Maynilad staff. Because in other households (including mine), looks like the manhole is under the garage tiles. Hassle! ☹

So I need to hire someone to open it up first before I schedule the cleaning.

On the scheduled cleaning day, make sure to prepare your latest Maynilad water bill, plus your septic tank should be ready-to-open. The cleaning takes around 15-20 minutes only.


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