Wastewater Treatment

In general, most people don't like to think about wastewater treatment. Once water is used and goes down the drain, it's "Out of sight, Out of mind." But many fascinating things occur as the wastewater is collected and treated before returning it to the environment.

Collection System

Used water from our homes enters a vast underground network of pipes called sewers. These pipes convey the wastewater from our homes and businesses to a central location where it can be cleaned. In the collection system, the lines are laid with a slight downward slope so that the wastewater will flow naturally. We call this gravity flow.

By laying the sewers with a downhill slope, eventually the sewers would become too deep for construction to be practical. That is when a lift station is built. The lift station pumps the wastewater from a low elevation back up to a higher elevation where gravity flow can resume.
Manholes are located at specific intervals along the sewer line to allow workers access to the sewers for maintenance and repairs.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

The wastewater eventually arrives at the treatment plant where several process are employed to remove the pollutants from the water. The various steps are outlined below.
  1. Preliminary Treatment
  2. Primary Treatment
  3. Secondary Treatment
  4. Disinfection
  5. Dewatering
Preliminary treatment, otherwise known as pre-treatment. This is where large objects and inorganic particles are removed. Surprisingly, there are a lot of different things in the wastewater stream that you may not think of. Things like:
  • Bottles
  • Cans
  • Golf balls
  • Sticks
  • Tennis balls
  • Toys
This junk can cause severe problems if it is allowed to enter pumps and other equipment, so we screen it and remove it.

In addition to the trash that can be found in wastewater, there is a lot of inorganic particles such as gravel, sand, metal and metal particles. These items, called grit, can cause excessive wear to pumps and other equipment, thus the grit is removed before the wastewater flows to the main Treatment Plant.


This has been a rather brief and simplified look at what happens to our wastewater as it leaves our homes and businesses and is treated to be safely returned to the environment. The actual treatment process is much more complicated than what has been described above. However, we hope that this overview gives you a little bit of understanding as to what is happening at The Weirton Wastewater Treatment plant.

Tours of the Weirton Wastewater Treatment Plant are available for groups of 5 or more. If your group is interested in touring our facility, please contact the plant.

Some Interesting Facts

The Weirton Wastewater Treatment Plant is designed to treat 4 million gallons of wastewater a day. However, during wet weather, it can treat a maximum of 20 million gallons in a day. To put this in perspective, a typical bathtub holds around 40 gallons of water. The Weirton Plant can effectively treat 100,000 bathtubs-full of water every day. That's equivalent to about 69 bathtubs of water every minute. At a peak flow of 20 million gallons a day, the plant is processing about 347 bathtubs of water every minute.

Wastewater is made up mostly of... water! People in the wastewater field measure the pollutants in the water in units called p.p.m. or parts per million. The wastewater that is received at the treatment plant has about 200 p.p.m. suspended solids in it. After it has been treated by the various plant processes, the water that leaves the plant has only about 20 p.p.m. suspended solids.