World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is all about taking action on water issues. This year, the theme is wastewater – how to reduce its production and reuse it. Why are we telling you about it now, two weeks before the day? Well, we feel it’s good to be ready for these ‘world days’ and feel like you’re doing something ahead of time, so that you can spread the word feeling positive about your contribution!
Globally, over 80 percent of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the global ecosystem without being treated or reused…that’s an alarming statistic that everyone should read again…80 percent!
What does that mean for society at large?
It means that 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water that’s contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.
Unfortunately, the health crisis is going to get worse unless everyone from the grassroots up does something very soon. Why? Because by 2050, close to 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, compared to 50 percent today. Currently, most cities in developing countries do not have adequate infrastructure and resources to address wastewater management in an efficient and sustainable way.
But isn’t wastewater management only something so-called developed countries can implement?
No, that’s a myth… UN Water, the organiser of World Water Day says, “The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. “Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials. The costs of wastewater management are greatly outweighed by the benefits to human health, economic development and environmental sustainability providing new business opportunities and creating more ‘green’ jobs.”
Although the picture is fairly grim, there are examples of projects around the world where wastewater management is working well. For example, at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which has an output of waste water the same as a small city of 45,000 people, there is an on-site wastewater treatment plant that biologically purifies the water to a level that is fit to return to the local waterways.
Why Waste Water? Reduce your waste with these 3 water-saving tips
It’s very easy to feel this is too big a problem for the individual to do anything about it. But we can all take small steps to help. Here are 3 tips that will make a big watery difference and they are so easy they’ll become habits before too long. Spread the word and your effort could be doubled, trebled or more…
1. Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes or scrubbing vegetables. Otherwise you’re just making wastewater without even using it!
2. Put rubbish, oils, chemicals, and food in the bin or even better take them to your recycle center to dispose of in the correct way, just don’t put it down the drain. The dirtier your wastewater, the more energy and money it costs to treat it. (Waste disposal units are one of the most anti-green inventions! If you have one disconnect it.)
3. Collect used water (grey water) from your kitchen sink or bathtub and use it on plants and gardens, and to wash your bike or car.
Collecting grey water (the water that comes out of sinks, baths, showers, washing machines) isn’t super easy but it can be done to some extent in every home. ‘How to reuse grey water in the home and yard’ by TreeHugger gives some excellent advice about the difference between grey, black and warm-up water and how to successfully reuse it.
With all these tips we hope you can look forward to World Water Day on 22 March, instead of feeling at a loss about how you can help!