Wastewater discharge

Effluent is an outflowing of water or gas from a natural body of water, or from a human-made structure.

Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “wastewater - treated or untreated - that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters”.[1] The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines effluent as “liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea”.[2]

Effluent in the artificial sense is in general considered to be water pollution, such as the outflow from a sewage treatment facility or the wastewater discharge from industrial facilities. An effluent sump pump, for instance, pumps waste from toilets installed below a main sewage line.

In the context of waste water treatment plants, effluent that has been treated is sometimes called secondary effluent, or treated effluent. This cleaner effluent is then used to feed the bacteria in biofilters.

In the context of a thermal power station, the output of the cooling system may be referred to as the effluent cooling water, which is noticeably warmer than the environment. Effluent only refers to liquid discharge.

In sugar beet processing, effluent is often settled in water tanks that allow the mud-contaminated water to settle. The mud sinks to the bottom, leaving the top section of water clear, free to be pumped back into the river or be reused in the process again.

The Mississippi River's effluent of fresh water is so massive (7,000 to 20,000 m³/sec, or 200,000 to 700,000 ft³/sec) that a plume of fresh water is detectable by the naked eye from space, even as it rounds Florida and up to the coast of Georgia.

See also


  1. ^ "Terms of Environment Beginning With "E"". United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2006-10-03. http://www.epa.gov/OCEPAterms/eterms.html. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  2. ^ "AskOxford: effluent". Ask Oxford.com. Oxford University Press,. 2010. http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/effluent?view=uk. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • effluent — effluent, ente [ eflyɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. et n. m. • av. 1475; lat. effluens, p. prés. de effluere « s écouler » 1 ♦ Qui s écoule d une source. 2 ♦ N. m. (1953) Géogr. Cours d eau issu d un lac ou d un glacier. ⇒ 2. émissaire. ♢ Techn. Effluent urbain …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Effluent — Ef flu*ent, a. [L. effluens, entis, p. pr. of effluere to flow out; ex + fluere to flow: cf. F. effluent. See {Fluent}.] Flowing out; as, effluent beams. Parnell. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Effluent — Ef flu*ent, n. (Geog.) A stream that flows out of another stream or lake. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • effluent — effluent, ente (è flu an, an t ) adj. Terme de physique. Fluant hors. Matière effluente. L abbé Nollet expliquait les phénomènes électriques au moyen de deux matières, l une affluente, l autre effluente. HISTORIQUE    XVe s. •   Perfecte bonté… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • effluent — EFFLUENT, ENTE. adj. Il n est guère d usage qu en Physique, et dans cette phrase: Matière effluente, pour signifier, Les émanations qui sortent d un corps …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • effluent — (adj.) mid 15c., from L. effluentem (see EFFLUENCE (Cf. effluence)). As a noun, from 1859; meaning liquid industrial waste is from 1930 …   Etymology dictionary

  • effluent — ► NOUN ▪ liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea …   English terms dictionary

  • effluent — [ef′lo͞oənt] adj. [ME < L effluens: see EFFLUENCE] a flowing out or forth n. a thing that flows out or forth; specif., a) a stream flowing out of a body of water: opposed to AFFLUENT, n. 1 b) the outflow of a sewer, septic tank, etc …   English World dictionary

  • effluent — I. adjective Etymology: Latin effluent , effluens, present participle of effluere to flow out, from ex + fluere to flow more at fluid Date: 1726 flowing out ; emanating, outgoing < an effluent river > II. noun Dat …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • effluent — [[t]e̱fluənt[/t]] effluents N MASS Effluent is liquid waste material that comes out of factories or sewage works. [FORMAL] The effluent from the factory was dumped into the river... All industrial chemical plants produce waste effluents. Syn:… …   English dictionary

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