Wastewater

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Wastewater is used water that is generated from residences, commercial buildings and industrial plants. It is also sometimes called sanitary sewage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American produces 100 gallons of wastewater each day. The goal of the City of Rochester is to return wastewater to the water cycle at the Zumbro River, with as little environmental impact as possible.

After water goes down the drain or the toilet is flushed, where does the water go? Wastewater is carried from homes, and commercial and industrial businesses, through a network of buried pipes, called a sanitary sewer collection system, to the Water Reclamation Plant located in NW Rochester. Once there, the water undergoes an advanced and complex process that reduces contaminants to levels required by Water Reclamation Plant’s operating permit before being returned to the environment via the Zumbro River.

In the hydrological cycle, water is cleaned by nature through multiple chemical, physical, and biological processes. Examples of natural, water-cleaning processes are filtering water through soil, bacteria and algae feeding on suspended nutrients, or solids settling to the bottom of a lake. The Water Reclamation Plant's engineered processes mimics natural processes to treat most pollutants at a much faster rate and in a controlled environment. As the City’s population has grown, the municipal Water Reclamation Plant has expanded operations and can continue to do so in order to serve a population of over 300,000 people.

Learn more about the City of Rochester's Water Reclamation Plant.