Efficient Wastewater Management Essential to Sustain Future Supply Quality
The 21st century has exposed a world that is faced with unrestrained population growth accompanied by accelerated urbanisation and industrialisation, the need for increased food production and a demand for improvement in the living standards of its people. Each of these trends, in turn, has served to highlight current poor practices in the way we utilise our water reserves and the need for more efficient wastewater management. In simpler times, the latter was handled naturally within the ecosystem but today, it can no longer cope with the volumes of contaminated effluent resulting from domestic, commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities.
Already, the impact of this failure can be seen in the form of diminished aquatic biodiversity in badly polluted streams, rivers, coastal regions and in the ocean. If we wish to avoid a future in which potable water could replace banknotes as currency, the time to take action is now. Equally importantly, we need to recognise that if any remedial action is to be effective, the responsibility for its success will rest with us all.
There is a common misconception that industries such as mining, construction, and manufacturing are the biggest consumers of water and that most environmental pollution is the result of their failure to conduct effective wastewater management and other anti-pollution programmes. In fact, agriculture is the biggest user and is responsible for almost 60% of total usage with domestic users consuming around half of that amount, so these industries, together with power generation, are using less than 10% of the whole. Also, industry is subject to strict regulations regarding the disposal of effluent, which is required to meet mandatory minimum standards of quality before it may be discharged into the environment.
Based on these facts, the areas in which improved handling is most needed are rural and urban domestic use and agriculture. In practice, almost any operation, especially if it is based in a remote location, will be able to derive several benefits by installing a more efficient and conservative form of wastewater management system. Chemical toilets and septic tanks are a reasonably efficient means to dispose of bodily and agricultural waste respectively, although they also allow chemical pollutants to leak and accumulate in the soil. Neither, in practice, addresses the more pressing need which is to conserve this crucial resource. What would be more effective than just a means for safe disposal of effluent into the environment and the slow process of recycling via the natural water cycle, is some means by which to reclaim and to reuse it quickly and on site. It is fortunate, then, that a robust and easily maintained, multi-stage sewage treatment system can now offer consumers an economical and environmentally responsible solution that is designed to achieve those benefits.
Closely mimicking the processes employed by nature, these systems do not rely on the use of potentially harmful chemical agents or require significant quantities of generated energy to operate electrical components such as pumps and blowers. Instead, these installations rely mainly on the action of both aerobic and anaerobic microbial digestion for the safe and efficient management of black and grey wastewater. In practice, if it was required to produce water of potable quality, additional processing of the treated effluent would be necessary, However, even in its most basic form, it is both free of all pathogenic bacteria and of any unpleasant odour and is therefore perfectly suitable for use in many everyday applications. These could include watering the lawn, washing cars, tractors, and other farm equipment, as well as to feed an irrigation system.
By allowing owners to recycle previously used water in this fashion, these systems provide benefits both to the user and to the environment. Reusing a commodity that has already been paid for can amount to substantial savings on the part of the consumer and, by simultaneously reducing the drain on this natural resource, it is directly contributing to a more sustainable future. In South Africa, these wastewater management systems are available from Bio Sewage Systems. They are readily transportable, sufficiently scalable to meet the needs of a single home or an entire shopping centre, and offered in a range of standard capacities. However, if required, we can tailor an installation to meet your specific needs.