Nutrient assimilation from wastewater systems
Domestic wastewater is a cocktail of numerous microbiological populations as well as chemical contaminants, some of which may be useful to soil microbes and plant communities living in the moist land application area, while other inclusions may be hazardous to the environment.
As domestic wastewater consists of discharges from the toilets, bathroom, laundry and kitchen, and various and variable volumes of water, each household may be unique in its wastewater characteristics, but typical values are often suggested for a typical Australian home.
This page is devoted to two major constituents that may be both beneficial and/or harmful, depending upon the manner in which the wastewater is treated and the effluent is discharged to the environment. Both constituents are essential to human health and are derived from our diet, whether from a vegetarian or mixed vegetable and meat protein diet, to be excreted as perspiration, urine and faeces, plus waste tissue (skin, hair). The difference in a household's wastewater quality may also depend upon a range of other chemicals used and discharged into the wastewater, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, laundry detergents, bath soaps, hair conditioners, shampoos, and chemicals used in the kitchen.
The two elements of concern are nitrogen and phosphorus; essential to all life in moderation.