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Where Peterborough’s sewage goes, even if you don’t want to think about it

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When you flush the toilet or drain the bathtub, where does the wastewater go? Although you may not want to think too much about raw sewage and its treatment, this is an important water issue to consider. Here in the City of Peterborough, we are fortunate to have the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) treat our sewage, meaning that we don’t have to worry about this topic on a daily basis — or maybe we do.

After my July article about water treatment I wanted to learn more about wastewater treatment. I reached out to Kent Keeling, chief environmental officer with the City of Peterborough, to get a better sense of how our wastewater system works.

Keeling says there is an important distinction between sanitary sewers and storm sewers. “The sanitary sewer system connects your home (toilets, showers, sinks etc.) to the Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment prior to re-entering the Otonabee River,” explains Keeling. “By contrast, storm sewers are connected to the square curbside grates on the city’s streets. These are meant to carry rainwater away to the nearest lake, river, or stream without any treatment.”

You may notice both types of sewers in your neighbourhood, but only the contents of the sanitary sewers are slated for treatment. The storm sewers carry water from rain or melting snow directly to the Otonabee River without any form of treatment. This means that garbage, road salt, and other debris washed into a storm drain ends up in the river.

Now that we know only sewage is treated, I asked........

© Peterborough Examiner

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