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🚰 "Down the Drain & Back Again"

Water Smarts Podcast

Photo by Kato Twofold / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Bronson Mack & Crystal Zuelke
Guest: Kim Adler | Assistant Manager | Clark County Water Reclamation District
Category: 🚰 Utilities

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:16] “We often refer to ourselves as the unseen utility. Unlike power where you flip a switch and the light turns on, or gas where you turn a knob and the flame comes up on your stove, when you flush the toilet, the water just goes away. People typically don't think about us until they receive a bill or there's a problem. But simply put, we clean the water so that it can be used as a water source for another day.”

[5:39] “Here in Clark County we recycle 100% of our wastewater. If you flush it or if it goes down the drain, it travels to a wastewater treatment facility and we treat that wastewater to a very high degree. We meet strict water quality and safety standards. And in the Las Vegas area, it's returned to Lake Mead via the Las Vegas Wash. On average, we collect, treat and return over 110 million gallons a day of wastewater. And because we have a limited Colorado River supply here in Southern Nevada, extending our water supply is incredibly important. For every gallon that we treat and return to the lake, we can take another gallon out.”

[7:18] “The water is treated to Clean Water Act standards meeting or exceeding all discharge permit requirements. The first few steps in our treatment process are more physical in nature. They include removing particles and items from the wastewater and letting solids settle. So one of the things we always tell people is to not use their toilet or sink as a trash can. For toilets if it's not one of the three Ps pee, poo, or toilet paper it belongs in the trash.

[7:48] “After the physical process, then we begin the biological processes to further clean the water. We use something called aeration basins, which are large rectangular tanks that cultivate an environment with and without air, so that little micro organisms break down ammonia in the wastewater or stimulate micro organisms to remove phosphorus. The little tiny waste eating micro organisms use the food that wastewater provides to grow and reproduce. We tightly control the environment to promote the growth of the right types of micro organisms.”

[8:23] “Next, water moves through something called a dual media filter. The filters are large covered concrete boxes layered with gravel, sand and anthracite coal that trap tiny particles. Then finally, the water passes through channels that are equipped with ultraviolet lamps that destroy disease-causing organisms' ability to reproduce. And so finally, that clean water is safe to return to the environment. […] And at every stage, we're constantly monitoring, testing and controlling to make sure that every drop is safe for the environment and the water care cycle. On average, we conduct over 8500 water quality laboratory analysis tests per month to ensure our regulatory compliance on our effluent discharge.

[12:10] “Because we treat and return more than 110 million gallons of water a day back to the environment, investing in the infrastructure is paramount. It's important to maintain the sanitary sewer system for public safety and the environment. No one wants a sewer clog or sewer pipe break in their neighborhood. We have a $1.5 billion 15 year capital improvement plan that outlines projects that will increase the capacity of our Valley sewer system as needed. We also maintain and upgrade existing facilities for reliability.”

[16:25] “I enjoy the great holiday feast, too. The cleanup part is always challenging. […] A lot of times, we just want to get rid of it as fast as we can and pour it down that kitchen sink. But in doing so, we're really risking the integrity of our home plumbing system and the public sewer system. So what we ask people to do is to just can it. All you need to do is grab any sort of container, it can be a pasta jar, it can be a coffee can, and you just line it with some paper, newspaper, paper towel, pour your cooking grease into it, wait for it to cool and solidify and then you can just throw it in the trash and reuse that can this way it keeps all that kind of nasty stuff out of your sink and keeps your pipes protected. And it also doesn't cause a lot of damage to our sewer infrastructure.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 26 min | 🗓️ 11/17/2021
✅ Time saved: 24 min