Wastewater should be considered a resource

As water demand is increasing across the globe, the quantity of wastewater produced as a result of various human activities is also growing, a UN report says

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi
Last Updated: Friday 24 March 2017 | 06:37:34 AM

Wastewater, if treated as a valuable resource, can generate huge environmental and economic benefits for mankind, a new United Nations report says.

As water demand is increasing across the globe, the quantity of wastewater produced as a result of various human activities is also growing, the World Water Development Report 2017 points out. However, it is in our interest, to make use of this water rather than lose it.

Around the world, about 80 per cent of wastewater is released in the environment without proper treatment. This impacts our ecosystems and jeopardises public health. With water demand growing in every sector from agriculture to industry, it is judicious to use wastewater after proper treatment to tide over water crisis.

Domestic wastewater is a valuable source of water and nutrients. Besides enhancing food security, water reuse for agriculture can ensure improved nutrition. This can help us achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals.

In the face of climate change, our freshwater resources are at threat. As more severe droughts affect food production and affect food prices, we will need more water to increase crop yields. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expert Aziz Elbehri, crop climate models predict negative yield impacts from climate change in many hotspots across the world.

The report adds that there will be a 60 per cent surge in food demand by 2050. In view of this, it is imperative to address water scarcity and use wastewater to grow crops.

Agriculture causes water scarcity. Degradation of water resources is threatening the sustainability of livelihoods dependent on water and agriculture. According to the FAO, inefficient water use depletes aquifers, reduces river flows and salinises irrigated land area. Use of fertilizers and pesticides give rise to water pollution.

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IEP Resources:

World Water Development Report 2017: wastewater- the untapped resource

Beyond the source: the environmental, economic and community benefits of source water protection

Closing the water loop: reuse of treated wastewater in urban India

The assessment of treated wastewater quality and the effects of mid-term irrigation on soil physical and chemical properties (case study: Bandargaz-treated wastewater)

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