Effluent generally means the wastes in liquid state or sewage that gets disposed into river or sea. The source of discharge can be anything including sewage system, factory, nuclear plant etc. Effluent is one of the major causes for water pollution.
Constituents of effluent mainly depends on the source from which it is generated. Effluent may sometimes contain nutrient resources and water. This type of effluent can promote crop and pasture growth, if utilized efficiently. This can reduce usage of fertilizer and quantity of water required for irrigation. In some other contexts, Effluents may be harmful to both the underground and surface water resources. It can also affect physical and chemical characteristics of soil, if it is not managed properly.
The various effluents are formed as a result of industrial wastes into water bodies. These are commonly called industrial effluents. It mainly includes discharge of sulphur oxide and contaminated water. Sulphur oxide when discharged into atmosphere results in acid rain, which harmfully affects the water bodies. When contaminated water is discharged, it gives birth to infectious diseases. Many thermal power plants discharge heated water which can reduce oxygen content in water bodies. Organisms in these water bodies cannot tolerate with the temperature change and will either die or migrate. This leads to disruption of life cycles of marine organisms. Surface run-offs containing petroleum products also harms aquatic life. The petroleum products flow on water surface cuts the sunlight which is required for aquatic photosynthesis. Agricultural practices may also cause effluent discharge which may contain excess nutrients, fertilizers, insecticides etc. Fertilizer and nutrient run-offs can cause eutrophication in water bodies. Run-offs containing pesticides will adversely affect the environmental balance.
It is very important that effluent should be treated properly before disposal. Any of the physical, chemical or biological treatment methods can be used depending on the source of effluent. Popular treatment methods are sedimentation, screening, chlorination, neutralization, aerobic and anaerobic treatments etc.
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