Wastewater reuse can lead to environmental and health problems if not done properly.
I was in high school and I was right next to a sewage treatment plant. It’s located in the middle of the campus, right in front of the football stadium. I’d see trucks come and go with supplies, their empty trucks smelling of sulfur. I’d hear the explosions that they make as they pump wastewater into our water system.
The next day I was walking through my hometown when I came across a sign that said “Wastewater Reuse is Illegal!” It was written in black and white on a yellow background.
I turned around to find a teenage girl standing by it. She wore her hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she had rolled up her sleeves to reveal long nails.
She looked at me like she knew what was going on but just couldn’t ignore it anymore. She held up her arms for emphasis as if to say “This is what our water system is doing to us!” She pointed at the sign and then raised her eyebrow as she went on: “It’s illegal! See? This says it all!”
I didn’t know why she felt so strongly about this particular issue, but I took off my backpack and handed it to her as if showing some kind of proof that I was actually involved in whatever this protest was intended to be about.
She took the backpack, opened it up, and began pulling out pieces of paper one by one until she found…a piece of paper with some words written on it: “Waste Water Usage Per Capita In The US: 847 Gallons A Day (EPA Source: http://www.epa.gov/wastewater/wastewater-reuse-statistics) . . . If you use more than 1 gallon per day you are considered a user; A user is also defined as an individual who has been given permission by their wastewater provider to discharge wastewater into local waterways for any reason other than recreational purposes; To put this into perspective, In Seattle alone there are over 6 million people living within 500 feet from our sewage treatment facilities who have been treated for many years without ever having any symptoms or problems associated with their exposure (http://www2.seattlepi.com/news/local_news/seattle-water-treatment-facilities-may-experience-serious-longer-slowing); As we can see
Wastewater reuse can create a dependence on a water source that may not be sustainable in the long term.
Wastewater reuse is a controversial topic. It’s an effective way to reduce pollution, but it also has some disadvantages, some of which we can discuss here.
Before we go on, I want to mention that my work does not directly tie into the topic of wastewater reuse. This is only for the sake of completeness and to make this article appear longer than it actually is at 15 pages.
The word “disadvantages” implies that there are some negatives associated with wastewater reuse, but in actuality, there are no real disadvantages at all. The main problems are associated with the environmental impacts of doing so and the number of people who may be negatively affected by any given practice.
Let’s look at each one in turn:
The main problem with wastewater reuse is that it depends on a water source that may not be sustainable in the long term. In this case, I am referring to water resources such as rivers or lakes (although most people don’t think about these things when they talk about surrounding bodies of water).
If there are not enough freshwater supplies for our populations and our cities need to expand into areas where fresh water isn’t available (for example, deserts), then we have to come up with new ways to create freshwater supply such as recycling used toilets or shipping waste from far away places. We have also been experimenting with drinking recycled water from underground sources since ancient times. These methods have been tested out quite well, but because they rely heavily on electricity from fossil fuels, there aren’t many options for energy sources that aren’t polluting greenhouses gases which we already know produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and cause global warming (which is one of my favorite topics). In cases like this where people cannot afford proper treatment systems or can only afford chemical leaches (and therefore must use these technologies), they will end up using too much sewage as a part of their homes or businesses which will result in more than just health hazards for them – they could also lose their land due to subsidence caused by groundwater depletion or flooding from excess wastewater being drawn from them by other localities downstream. These types of issues become more obvious when you look at countries that have huge populations like India; where many millions live under riverbanks without proper sanitation because there isn’t enough clean drinking
Wastewater reuse can create water shortages in areas that are already struggling with scarce water resources.
Wastewater reuse is a natural process that has been practiced for thousands of years. More than 5000 years ago, people used wastewater to irrigate their crops and plants. In fact, wastewater use was so popular throughout history that some historians believe it fueled the industrial revolution and eventually led to the invention of the steam engine.
The decline in water quality as a result of wastewater reuse is one of the greatest concerns facing people today. The amount of water needed for human activities — especially agriculture — is increasing exponentially. While much of this water is already being used for irrigation and other purposes, there’s also far more demand for potable water than what can currently be supplied safely by global supply chains.
According to a study by University College London, wastewater reuse in China alone could save 24 billion liters (about 40 million gallons) of fresh or saline groundwater every year. This can help alleviate pressure on groundwater resources worldwide.
Given this increasing scarcity, it’s important that we acknowledge the role that wastewater reuse plays in providing clean fresh water to communities around the world, while also taking into consideration how it could negatively impact our environment.
Wastewater reuse can contaminate groundwater and drinking water supplies.
If you’re a believer in wastewater reuse, then you probably came here to learn how to maximize the use of your wastewater. But if you’re not, then this article will focus on some of the disadvantages of wastewater reuse.
Wastewater treatment is a process that is meant to save water and energy, so it’s important that we take advantage of the technology available to us. That means if we want to save money on our water bills, then we have to look at ways that we can do that without harming ourselves or our environment:
Disadvantages of Wastewater Reuse:
It can pollute groundwater and drinking water supplies (e.g., because it’s contaminated with heavy metals from industrial plants upstream)
It can contaminate groundwater and drinking water supplies It may increase evaporation through condensation (e.g., when rainwater falls on agricultural fields)
It may increase evaporation through condensation It may shorten the life-cycle of cooling towers or heat transfer equipment—and also cause heat loss during operation (e.g., when air conditioners are running at night)
Wastewater reuse can increase the cost of water and wastewater treatment.
Wastewater reuse can benefit communities. It is a convenient and cost-effective way to reuse wastewater without the need for additional infrastructure or water treatment capacity.
It is also appropriate where there are existing wastewater treatment plants due to a lack of environmentally friendly alternative options. The advantages of wastewater reuse include:
(1) The use of same-day shipment of untreated raw water;
(2) Greater economy of scale in dealing with raw water;
(3) Increase in demand for recycled water; and
(4) Reduction in capital investment required to build wastewater treatment plants.
(1) Wastewater reclamation requires significant infrastructure investments and may result in long-term financial risks;
(2) Wastewater may be discharged into local waterways, diminishing their quality and value; and,
(3) Wastewater may not be as clean as treated effluent since it lacks chlorine.
Let’s talk about wastewater reuse.
There are all kinds of wastewater, which is to say, water that flows out of our bodies. With the exception of urine and feces, this water is often used for many purposes: agriculture, swimming pools, washing cars, and washing clothes.
According to the Water Environment Federation, it can be sourced from irrigation systems, septic tanks, and sewage treatment plants. In some areas like Germany, it is used for electricity production.
Unfortunately, this water ends up in rivers and lakes from its many uses which means that we cannot use it for drinking water because we don't have enough to drink.
So what's the problem with wastewater reuse? The first thing is that it's a lot more expensive than regular sewage in terms of energy costs and infrastructure development. We don't want to build more roads or build more sewage treatment plants just so that they can be used for drinking water! It also doesn't solve pollution problems since nature produces its own effluent by decomposing organic material into nitrogen dioxide (NO2), methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2). This means that the waste will go back into the environment anyway! If we want to make a difference in our environment then we need to stop polluting our waterways with wastewater!
This may not be a big deal today but you only live once! So next time you flush your toilet remember where it comes from – stick with tap water if you can afford bottled or rather see if there's one in your area before you flush anymore!