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Wastewater: what is it?

About this lesson

After learning about wastewater and where it goes, students will showcase their creativity by presenting a poster they designed.

Year level: 2

Theme: Wastewater

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • understand where wastewater comes from and where it goes
  • deliver a short presentation on wastewater by discussing their posters to others in a small group
  • use vocabulary appropriate to the subject.

Curriculum links


  • Earth’s resources are used in a variety of ways ACSSU032
  • Science involves observing, asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events ACSHE034


  • Rehearse and deliver short presentations on familiar and new topics ACELY1667
  • Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose ACELY1671

Things you will need

Lesson description


  • Discuss what wastewater is and where it comes from. Brainstorm all of the places in the house that create wastewater.
  • What other places produce wastewater? Compare the different types.
  • Use the wastewater path poster to see where water goes once it leaves homes and businesses. Discuss the poster and write down key words.
  • Bring a student to the front to explain the poster and talk about the difference between wastewater and stormwater.


  • Get students to create a poster informing someone who doesn't know what wastewater is, where it comes from and where it goes.

  • Prior to the activity brainstorm with the class words they could include in their poster (encourage correct use of terminology such as 'wastewater', 'sewer', 'septic tank', 'treatment plant').

  • Explain to students that after they will present their posters to each other in groups.

  • Early finishers can complete the activity sheet.

Reflect & summarise

  • Students present their posters and explain them to the class.
  • Summarise with the class what wastewater is, where it comes from and where it goes.

Extension activities

  • Explore items that end up in wastewater and the effect this has on the wastewater system.
  • Discuss what would happen if all the wastewater from our homes and industries were disposed of straight into rivers, the ocean and groundwater, without being treated. Find education resources about the Swan and Canning rivers, or get involved in River Guardians.

Teacher background information

What is wastewater?

Wastewater is water that has been used by the community. It includes water used in the home (toilet, shower, sink, dishwashers and washing machines), as well as the liquid from some industrial manufacturing processes.

Every day WA consumers discharge more than 432 million litres of wastewater into wastewater systems. This is the equivalent to approximately 185 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Where does wastewater go?

The wastewater from properties connected to Water Corporation’s wastewater system is collected in sewers and transported to a treatment plant. After treatment, the wastewater is disposed of in a way that is safe for our health and for the environment. Treated wastewater eventually returns to the water cycle, by being discharged to the ocean, rivers, streams, land or through evaporation.

Types of wastewater

Wastewater is made up of ‘greywater’ and ‘blackwater’. Greywater is wastewater from washing machines, showers, baths, wash basins, spa baths, laundry tubs and kitchens. Blackwater is wastewater from toilets, urinals or bidets.

Did you know?

Every single person in WA produces about 200 litres of wastewater a day.  This is enough to fill a bathtub.

Key vocabulary

  • Septic tank: A small below-ground treatment system where sewage is disintegrated by bacteria
  • Sewer: A drain that takes wastewater to a treatment plant
  • Stormwater: Surface water caused by rain
  • Wastewater: Used water
  • Wastewater system: The system that collects wastewater from households, businesses and industries then directs it to treatment plants where it is treated to an environmentally acceptable standard before being reused or safely discharged back to the environment