Industrial water waste is water that is used in the production or process of goods and energy. A large amount of modern industry relies on water to assist with the cooling of devices or cleaning of pollutants within the production process. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, industrial waste water levels have declined considerably in the early 21st century, but the fact remains that a number of different industries rely on the use of water to function.
This industrial water waste is handled by either removing the water and sending it to a treatment facility or treating the water on location and releasing it into river ways and lakes. Due to the long process of treating the industrial water waste, corrosion of the facilities is common, along with the encouragement of bacterial growth. This includes the possibility of Legionnaires' Disease, which can be fatal.
One of the most common examples of industrial water waste comes from the process of cooling or heating. This can be accomplished in machinery with a large scale radiator that cools different parts of a device. When the water is released it is generally a higher temperature than the other bodies of water in which it will be introduced. The same is true for water used in boiler systems. Outside of the concerns over temperature, additional factors such as rust contamination are commonplace.
A large amount of industrial water waste contains additional pollutants that need to be dealt with by processing facilities. Due to its widespread use in the 20th century, both asbestos and lead are commonly found in waste water. Both of these materials can harm humans and animals by causing cancers or damaging a body's enzymes. Mercury has also been found in industrial water waste according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Farms and agricultural industries produce a variety of water waste that directly impact ground water used for drinking and cleaning. Fertilizers commonly include both nitrates and phosphates to help stimulate growth. Both of these are washed away by rainfall and watering during the farming process. The biggest concern according to the EPA is the damage to marine life.
Sulfur, petrochemicals and oils also find their way into industrial water waste. In a variety of factories and engineering facilities, water is used to clean floors and machinery. This water collects these materials and is usually disposed of in an unwanted manner, such as simply being flushed into the sewer. Normal water treatment facilities are generally ill-equipped to handle the influx of these harmful elements.