Management of wastewater

Smart wastewater management is key to poverty reduction. It will sustain ecosystem services; improve food security, health, and ultimately the economy.

Better wastewater management efforts will enforce existing policies and introduce new and relevant policies, funding, legislation, encourage voluntary agreements, engage private and public sectors, and expand education on the issue.

Here are five areas of emphasis:

1. Preventive practices:

Laws, policies, and advocacy should be designed to encourage all stakeholders to reduce the generation of wastewater. That will reduce the volume of wastewater that we have to eventually deal with.

2. Capture the wastewater immediately:

Appropriate technology and best practices can be used to capture wastewater straight from its source and directed to the right places for treatment. This part will involve a significant investment, but the long-term benefits will be worth it. It may involve laying different underground pipes to carry different types of wastewater.

3. Treatment:

In many rural dwellings all over the world, the sun, vegetation, soils, and bacteria can take care of wastewater naturally if discharged into the environment with little or no treatment. It is possible because the volumes are very small. In urban centers, the amounts of wastewater produced are staggering and simply impossible for nature to take care of. This is why we need to treat wastewater using appropriate and relevant technology before discharging it into the environment.

4. Recycle and re-use water:

That involves the use of physical, biological, and chemical principles to remove contaminants from wastewater. The type of wastewater will determine the kind of principle to apply. Water recycle, reuse, and reclaim are often used to mean the same thing. An example is a water that is used over and over again for cooling purposes in an energy plant. Another example is to capture gray water (those from sinks, shower, and laundry drains) and reused it for landscaping, construction, and concrete mixing purposes.

5. Education, Awareness, Advocacy, and Stewardship:

Stakeholders should provide a friendly background for the development of new ideas and technologies in managing the issue. Each person and all groups of people should be adequately informed about the threat and the need to reduce wastewater and welcome the potential in managing them with socially and culturally appropriate methods and technology.