Water treatment is, collectively, the industrial-scale processes that makes water more acceptable for an end-use, which may be drinking, industry, or medicine. Water treatment is unlike small-scale water sterilization that campers and other people in wilderness areas practice. Water treatment should remove existing water contaminants or so reduce their concentration that their water becomes fit for its desired end-use, which may be safely returning used water to the environment.
Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids and gases from contaminated water. The goal of this process is to produce water fit for a specific purpose. Most water is disinfected for human consumption (drinking water) but water purification may also be designed for a variety of other purposes, including meeting the requirements of medical, pharmacological, chemical and industrial applications. In general the methods used include physical processes such as filtration, sedimentation, and distillation, biological processes such as slow sand filters or biologically active carbon, chemical processes such as flocculation and chlorination and the use of electromagnetic radiation such as ultraviolet light.