Glossary of Water and Wastewater Terms

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5 random terms from our glossary


Any of the four more or less equal parts into which something can be divided by two real or imaginary lines that intersect each other at right angles. In television inspection of pipes, for example, the picture of the pipe can be divided into fourths (upper-left, lower-left, upper-right, and lower-right quadrants) to identify the location of observed objects.

Trichloroethane (TCE) (try-KLOR-o-ETH-hane)

An organic chemical used as a cleaning solvent that causes adverse health effects in domestic water supplies.


The material in the bottom of a trench. It may or may not have a layer of bedding soil placed over it. The foundation soil may be (1) undisturbed and remain in place; (2) unsuitable and must be removed and replaced with another material; (3) so wet and soft that it must be displaced by dumping rock into the trench; or (4) removed from the trench, placed back in the trench, and then compacted. Over-excavation and backfill of the foundation is required only when the native trench bottom does not provide a firm working platform for placement of the pipe bedding material.

Contamination (kun-TAM-uh-NAY-shun)

The introduction into water of microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater in a concentration that makes the water unfit for its next intended use.

Back Pressure

A pressure that can cause water to backflow into the water supply when a user's water system is at a higher pressure than the public water system.