Posted by : Saurabh Gupta Saturday, April 27, 2013

Introduction to Environmental Engineering
What is Environmental Engineering?
It is the application of scientific and engineering principles to the environmental issues and their solutions. Generally, it includes supply of water, disposal and recycling of wastes, drainage of communities, control of water, soil, atmospheric pollution and environmental impacts of different activities carried out on earth.
The practice and application of engineering laws in compliance with the safety of environment and the code of ethics prescribed as standards. Some of those are as below

Environmental engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment (air, water, and/or land resources), to provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation and for other organisms, and to remediate polluted sites. It involves waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, environmental sustainability, and public health issues as well as a knowledge of environmental engineering law. It also includes studies on the environmental impact of proposed construction projects.
Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies to evaluate the significance of such hazards, advise on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. Environmental engineers also design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems[1][2] as well as address local and worldwide environmental issues such as the effects of acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution and air pollution from automobile exhausts and industrial sources.[3][4][5][6] At many universities, Environmental Engineering programs follow either the Department of Civil Engineering or The Department of Chemical Engineering at Engineering faculties. Environmental "civil" engineers focus on hydrology, water resources management, bioremediation, and water treatment plant design. Environmental "chemical" engineers, on the other hand, focus on environmental chemistry, advanced air and water treatment technologies and separation processes

Population Forecasting Methods

Population is one of the most important factors for design of the water systems, so it should be estimated, so as to know the increasing demand and ensure continuous supply to them.
Population data is obtained by previous records and the rate of increase is found out and this used for further analysis, which may be by using the methods described below
1.    Arithmetic growth method
2.    Geometric growth method
3.    Curvilinear method
4.    Logistic method
5.    Decline growth method
6.    Ratio growth

Arithmetic growth method:

It is based on the assumption that the rate of growth of population is constant. It means that the each year population increase by the same increment.
dp / dt = Ka
dp / dt is the rate of change of population
Ka = the constant arithmetic increment
Ka can be determined by finding the slop of the graph of population against time. The population in the future is thus estimated.

Geometric method:

It is based on the hypothesis that rate of change of population is proportional to the population. According to this, method it is assumed that the rate of increase of population growth in a community is proportional to the present population.
dP /dt P => dp / dt = Kg where Kg = Geometric Growth constant.
If P0 is the population at any time t0 and Pf is the population at time tf then
Pf P0 dp/p = Kg ∫ tf t0 dt = Ln (Pf/P0 = Kg (tf/t0)
=> Ln (Pf/P0 = Kg Δt
=> (Pf/P0 = (e) Kg Δt and Pf = P0 (e) Kg Δt
This method gives somewhat larger value as compared to arithmetic method and can be used for new cities with rapid growth. In normal practice, arithmetic and geometric growth average is taken.

Curvilinear method:

In this it is assumed that the population of a city will grow, in the same manner as in other cities in the past. This similarity between the cities includes geographical proximity, similarity of economic base, access to similar transportation system etc. In practice it is difficult to find similar cities.

Logistic method:

When the growth rate of population due to birth, death and migration are under normal situation and not subjected to extraordinary changes due to unusual situation like war, epidemics earth quakes and refugees etc. Then this method is used:
According to this method
P = P sat / (1+ ea+ bΔt), where P sat is the saturation population, of the community and a, b are constants. P sat, a and b can be determined from three successive census populations and the equations are
Psat = 2 P0 P1P2 - P12 (P0 + P2) / (P0 P2 - P12)

Decline growth method:

This method like, logistic, assumes that the city has some limiting saturation population and that its rate of growth is a function of population deficit;

Ratio method:

Ratio method of fore casting is based on the assumption that the population of a certain area or a city will increase in the same manner to a larger entity like a province, or a country. It requires calculation of ratio of locals to required population in a series of census years.
Projection of the trend line using any of the technique and application of projected ratio to the estimated required population of projected ratio to the estimated required population in the year of interest. This method of forecasting does not take into account some special calculations in certain area but have the following advantages.

Consumption of water

  1. Domestic use
  2. Commercial use
  3. Public use
  4. Loss and waste

Domestic use of water:

Domestic uses of water include the consumption of water for drinking, washing, cooking, toilets, livestock etc. the domestic average use per capita per day is 50 – 90 gallons (70 – 380 liters per capita per day). This use is increasing by 0.5% - 1.0% per year and at this time comprises 50% of all the uses of water.
Water uses are for drinking, cooking, meeting of sanitary needs in houses and hotels, irrigating lawns etc. Residential water use rates fluctuate regularly.
Average daily winter consumption is less than annual daily average, whereas summer consumption averages are greater. Similarly, peak hourly demand, is higher than maximum. No universally applied rule for prediction

Commercial and industrial:

This is the amount of water used by the shops, markets, industries, factories etc. It contributes 15 – 24% of total use of water.
It includes factories, offices and commercial places demand. It is based on either having a separate or combined water supply system. Demand of water based on unit production: No. of persons working and floor area

Public use:

The public use of water is that one which is used by city halls, jails, hospitals, offices, schools etc. This consumes 9% of total use of water. Its water demand is 50 – 75 liters per capita per day. Fire protection's need of water is also fulfilled by this sector. The fire demand does not greatly affect the average consumption but has a considerable effect on peak rates. Schools, hospitals, fire fighting etc

Loss and wastes:

: Unauthorized, connections; leakage in distribution system, Hydrant flushing, major line breakage and cleaning of streets, irrigating parks. Total consumption is sum of the above demands. The water which is not intended for specific purpose or use is also called "Un-accounted for". Loss and wastage of water is due to:
  1. Errors in measurements
  2. Leakages, evaporation or overflow
  3. Un-metered uses e.g. fire fighting, main flushing
  4. Un-authorized connections
Factors affecting the use of water
    • Size of the city
    • Industry and commerce
    • Climate
    • Time of the day
    • Day of the week or month

Estimation of Water Demand

While estimating the water demand, the above factors should be considered e.g. the size of the city; its population does matter when estimating the water demand. The more the size of population, more will be the demand. Estimation of water demand is necessary to:
  • Calculate design flow
  • Determine the pumping power of machines to be used
  • Reservoir capacity
  • Pipe capacity
To estimate water demand, following parameters must be determined or calculated.
    1. Average daily water consumption: It is based on complete one year supply of water. It is the total consumption during one year, divided by the population.
      q = (Q / P x 365) lpcd (liters per capita per day)
    2. Maximum daily consumption: It is the maximum amount of water used during one day in the year. This amount is 180% of the average daily consumption
      MDC = 1.8 x Avg. daily consumption. It is usually a working day (Monday) of summer season.
    3. Maximum weekly demand: The amount of water used by a population during a whole single week in a study span of 1 year.
      Maximum weekly demand = 1.48 x Avg. D. C
      Maximum monthly demand = 1.28 x Avg. D. C
      Maximum hourly demand = 1.5 x Avg. D. C
      Maximum daily demand = 1.8 x Avg. D. C
    4. Fire water demand | Fire Demand: Theamount of water usedfor fire fighting is termed as fire demand. Although, the amount of water used in fire fighting is a negligible part of the combine uses of water but the rate of flow and the volume required may be so high during fire that it is a deciding factor for pumps, reservoirs and distribution mains.
      Minimum fire flow should be 500 gpm (1890 L/m)
      Minimum fire flow should be 8000 gpm (32, 400 L/m)
      Additional flow may be required to protect adjacent buildings. 

Chemical Characteristics of water


§  Acidity

§  Alkalinity

§  Hardness

§  Turbidity

Acidity or alkalinity is measured by pH. PH measures the concentration of Hydrogen ions in water. Ionization of water is
HOH H+ + OH-
In neutral solutions [OH] = [H] hence pH = 7
If acidity is increased, [H] increases and pH reduces from 7 (because H is log of [H]). The value of pH of water is important in the operations of many water and waste water treatment processes and in the control of corrosion.
The values of pH higher than 7, shows alkalinity. The alkaline species in water can neutralize acids. The major constituents of alkalinity (or causticity) are OH-, CO32- and bicarbonates HCO3 ions. Alkalinity in water is usually caused by bicarbonate ions.

Hardness of water: Definition of hard water

Hardness is the property that makes water to require more soap to produce a foam or lather. Hardness of water is not harmful for human health but can be precipitated by heating so can produce damaging effects in boilers, hot pipes etc by depositing the material and reducing the water storage and carriage capacity.
Absolute soft water on the other hand is not acceptable for humans because it may cause ailments, especially to heart patients.
Hardness in water is commonly classified in terms of the amount of CaCO3 (Calcium Carbonate) in it.

Concentration of CaCO3
Degree of hardness
0 – 75 mg / L
75 – 150 mg / L
Moderately hard
150 – 300 mg / L
300 up mg / L
Very Hard
Table 1 - Degree of Hardness
Low level of hardness can be removed just by boiling but high degree of hardness can be removed by addition of lime. This method has also the benefit that iron and manganese 
contents are removed and suspended particles including micro-organisms are reduced.


Waters exiting the flocculation basin may enter the sedimentation basin, also called a clarifier or settling basin. It is a large tank with slow flow, allowing floc to settle to the bottom. The sedimentation basin is best located close to the flocculation basin so the transit between does not permit settlement or floc break up. Sedimentation basins may be rectangular, where water flows from end to end, or circular where flow is from the centre outward. Sedimentation basin outflow is typically over a weir so only a thin top layer—that furthest from the sediment—exits. The amount of floc that settles out of the water is dependent on basin retention time and on basin depth. The retention time of the water must therefore be balanced against the cost of a larger basin. The minimum clarifier retention time is normally 4 hours. A deep basin will allow more floc to settle out than a shallow basin. This is because large particles settle faster than smaller ones, so large particles collide with and integrate smaller particles as they settle. In effect, large particles sweep vertically through the basin and clean out smaller particles on their way to the bottom.
As particles settle to the bottom of the basin, a layer of sludge is formed on the floor of the tank. This layer of sludge must be removed and treated. The amount of sludge that is generated is significant, often 3 to 5 percent of the total volume of water that is treated. The cost of treating and disposing of the sludge can be a significant part of the operating cost of a water treatment plant. The tank may be equipped with mechanical cleaning devices that continually clean the bottom of the tank or the tank can be taken out of service when the bottom needs to be cleaned.


After separating most floc, the water is filtered as the final step to remove remaining suspended particles and unsettled floc.

Rapid sand filters
Cutaway view of a typical rapid sand filter
The most common type of filter is a rapid sand filter. Water moves vertically through sand which often has a layer of activated carbon or anthracite coal above the sand. The top layer removes organic compounds, which contribute to taste and odour. The space between sand particles is larger than the smallest suspended particles, so simple filtration is not enough. Most particles pass through surface layers but are trapped in pore spaces or adhere to sand particles. Effective filtration extends into the depth of the filter. This property of the filter is key to its operation: if the top layer of sand were to block all the particles, the filter would quickly clog.
To clean the filter, water is passed quickly upward through the filter, opposite the normal direction (called backflushing or backwashing) to remove embedded particles. Prior to this, compressed air may be blown up through the bottom of the filter to break up the compacted filter media to aid the backwashing process; this is known as air scouring. This contaminated water can be disposed of, along with the sludge from the sedimentation basin, or it can be recycled by mixing with the raw water entering the plant although this is often considered poor practice since it re-introduces an elevated concentration of bacteria into the raw water
Some water treatment plants employ pressure filters. These work on the same principle as rapid gravity filters, differing in that the filter medium is enclosed in a steel vessel and the water is forced through it under pressure.
  • Filters out much smaller particles than paper and sand filters can.
  • Filters out virtually all particles larger than their specified pore sizes.
  • They are quite thin and so liquids flow through them fairly rapidly.
  • They are reasonably strong and so can withstand pressure differences across them of typically 2–5 atmospheres.

Membrane filtration

Membrane filters are widely used for filtering both drinking water and sewage. For drinking water, membrane filters can remove virtually all particles larger than 0.2 um—including giardia and cryptosporidium. Membrane filters are an effective form of tertiary treatment when it is desired to reuse the water for industry, for limited domestic purposes, or before discharging the water into a river that is used by towns further downstream. They are widely used in industry, particularly for beverage preparation (including bottled water). However no filtration can remove substances that are actually dissolved in the water such as phosphorus, nitrates and heavy metal ions.

Slow sand filters
Slow "artificial" filtration (a variation of bank filtration) to the ground, Water purification plant Káraný, Czech Republic
Slow sand filters may be used where there is sufficient land and space as the water must be passed very slowly through the filters. These filters rely on biological treatment processes for their action rather than physical filtration. The filters are carefully constructed using graded layers of sand with the coarsest sand, along with some gravel, at the bottom and finest sand at the top. Drains at the base convey treated water away for disinfection. Filtration depends on the development of a thin biological layer, called the zoogleal layer or Schmutzdecke, on the surface of the filter. An effective slow sand filter may remain in service for many weeks or even months if the pre-treatment is well designed and produces water with a very low available nutrient level which physical methods of treatment rarely achieve. Very low nutrient levels allow water to be safely sent through distribution system with very low disinfectant levels thereby reducing consumer irritation over offensive levels of chlorine and chlorine by-products. Slow sand filters are not backwashed; they are maintained by having the top layer of sand scraped off when flow is eventually obstructed by biological growth.[citation needed]
A specific 'large-scale' form of slow sand filter is the process of bank filtration, in which natural sediments in a riverbank are used to provide a first stage of contaminant filtration. While typically not clean enough to be used directly for drinking water, the water gained from the associated extraction wells is much less problematic than river water taken directly from the major streams where bank filtration is often used.

 Removal of ions and other dissolved substances

Ultrafiltration membranes use polymer membranes with chemically formed microscopic pores that can be used to filter out dissolved substances avoiding the use of coagulants. The type of membrane media determines how much pressure is needed to drive the water through and what sizes of micro-organisms can be filtered out.
Ion exchange:[3][4][5][6][7] Ion exchange systems use ion exchange resin- or zeolite-packed columns to replace unwanted ions. The most common case is water softening consisting of removal of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions replacing them with benign (soap friendly) Na+ or K+ ions. Ion exchange resins are also used to remove toxic ions such as nitrate, nitrite, lead, mercury, arsenic and many others.
Electrodeionization:[7][3] Water is passed between a positive electrode and a negative electrode. Ion exchange membranes allow only positive ions to migrate from the treated water toward the negative electrode and only negative ions toward the positive electrode. High purity deionized water is produced with a little worse degree of purification in comparison with ion exchange treatment. Complete removal of ions from water is regarded as electrodialysis. The water is often pre-treated with a reverse osmosis unit to remove non-ionic organic contaminants.

 Other mechanical and biological techniques

In addition to the many techniques used in large-scale water treatment, several small-scale, less (or non)-polluting techniques are also being used to treat polluted water. These techniques include those based on mechanical and biological processes. An overview:
In order to purify the water adequately, several of these systems are usually combined to work as a whole. Combination of the systems is done in two to three stages, namely primary and secondary purification. Sometimes tertiary purification is also added.


Disinfection is accomplished both by filtering out harmful microbes and also by adding disinfectant chemicals in the last step in purifying drinking water. Water is disinfected to kill any pathogens which pass through the filters. Possible pathogens include viruses, bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Shigella, and protozoa, including Giardia lamblia and other cryptosporidia. In most developed countries, public water supplies are required to maintain a residual disinfecting agent throughout the distribution system, in which water may remain for days before reaching the consumer. Following the introduction of any chemical disinfecting agent, the water is usually held in temporary storage – often called a contact tank or clear well to allow the disinfecting action to complete.

Chlorine disinfection

Main article: Chlorination
The most common disinfection method involves some form of chlorine or its compounds such as chloramine or chlorine dioxide. Chlorine is a strong oxidant that rapidly kills many harmful micro-organisms. Because chlorine is a toxic gas, there is a danger of a release associated with its use. This problem is avoided by the use of sodium hypochlorite, which is a relatively inexpensive solution that releases free chlorine when dissolved in water. Chlorine solutions can be generated on site by electrolyzing common salt solutions. A solid form, calcium hypochlorite exists that releases chlorine on contact with water. Handling the solid, however, requires greater routine human contact through opening bags and pouring than the use of gas cylinders or bleach which are more easily automated. The generation of liquid sodium hypochlorite is both inexpensive and safer than the use of gas or solid chlorine. All forms of chlorine are widely used despite their respective drawbacks. One drawback is that chlorine from any source reacts with natural organic compounds in the water to form potentially harmful chemical by-products trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), both of which are carcinogenic in large quantities and regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate in the UK. The formation of THMs and haloacetic acids may be minimized by effective removal of as many organics from the water as possible prior to chlorine addition. Although chlorine is effective in killing bacteria, it has limited effectiveness against protozoa that form cysts in water (Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, both of which are pathogenic).

Chlorine dioxide disinfection

Chlorine dioxide is a faster-acting disinfectant than elemental chlorine, however it is relatively rarely used, because in some circumstances it may create excessive amounts of chlorite, which is a by-product regulated to low allowable levels in the United States. Chlorine dioxide is supplied as an aqueous solution and added to water to avoid gas handling problems; chlorine dioxide gas accumulations may spontaneously detonate.

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