“Water and Jobs” is the theme of World Water Day 2016. The theme highlights how both water and jobs have the power to transform people’s lives. UN Water, which coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation, reminds us that “Water is central to human survival, the environment and the economy and decent work can provide income and pave the way for broader social and economic advancements.”
No matter what you do, water matters to you. You benefit from its availability and quality, and, you have an important role to play in managing it better.
But what about wastewater? For many of us, wastewater is only something you generate when you use water. So managing wastewater is not really important…or is it? And how can improving wastewater management offer new job opportunities?
The GEF CReW Project promotes wastewater as a valuable resource that can provide such opportunities. Treated wastewater can be a valuable source of water, of energy and, of nutrients for use in agriculture. With reference to the GEF CReW’s Factsheet #4: Wastewater as a Resource.
Wastewater as a Source of Water
Recycled or reclaimed water can be used to satisfy most water demands, depending on the level of treatment. The water must be treated to meet regulatory guidelines for the intended end use.
- Wastewater may be reclaimed and reused for crop and landscape irrigation, groundwater aquifer recharge or recreational purposes.
- As water becomes scarcer, water treated to its highest quality is increasingly being accepted as an additional source of safe drinking water.
- Normally, reused water can be employed for non-potable purposes, e.g. flushing toilets and urinals.
Wastewater as a Source of Energy
Clean energy can be generated from methane, which is emitted during the handling and treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater. Cost-effective technologies that deliver clean energy from methane are widely available.
- Benefits of this include: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy cost savings, and progress towards using renewable energy locally, close to where it is generated, e.g. on farms.
Wastewater as a Source of Fertiliser (Nutrients)
Biosolids are the nutrient rich organic product of wastewater treatment and can be used to return valuable nutrients and carbon to the land. Biosolids provide nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc, enriching soils and keeping them productive and healthy.
- Biosolids can be recycled as a fertilizer and soil conditioner in agriculture and forestry, and can be composted and used in landscaping and gardening.
Realizing the full potential of wastewater as a resource, in addition to providing relief in dry periods, alternative sources of energy, and, additional nutrients for the food and ornamentals we grow, can also help us to create more jobs and to positively impact the livelihoods of so many workers, among them farmers, fishermen, and people working in the water and wastewater and tourism sectors.
Consider how your job benefits from and impacts upon water including wastewater - both its quantity and its quality - and you will begin to realize how significant this year’s World Water Day theme of “Water and Jobs” is to all of us. Better Water, Better Wastewater, Better Jobs.
For more information on World Water Day 2016 see: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/