Wastewater treatment is a process used to convert wastewater – which is water no longer needed or suitable for its most recent use – into an effluent that can be either returned to the water cycle with minimal environmental issues or reused. The latter is called water reclamation and implies avoidance of disposal by use of treated wastewater effluent for various purposes. Treatment means removing impurities from water being treated; and some methods of treatment are applicable to both water and wastewater. The physical infrastructure used for wastewater treatment is called a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

The treatment of wastewater belongs to the overarching field of Public Works – Environmental, with the management of human waste, solid waste, sewage treatment, stormwater (drainage) management, and water treatment. By-products from wastewater treatment plants, such as screenings, grit and sewage sludge may also be treated in a wastewater treatment plant. If the wastewater is predominantly from municipal sources (households and small industries) it is called sewage and its treatment is called sewage treatment.

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