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Deriving water from waste water

The 2017 United Nations  Water Development Programme s World Water Development Report (WWDR) – Wastewater: The Untapped Resource  released on 22 March, 2017 - World Water Day  analyzed that more than 80% of the world s waste water   of which over 95% is in some least developed countries  is released into the environment untreated. In Pakistan, it was 82%  in 2011,  in Vietnam 81% in 2012 and 77% of wastewater was untreated in Thailand in 2012.

The challenge  is particularly acute in Asia-Pacific where untreated wastewater  is a threat to both our aquatic ecosystems and  human health. Amidst ongoing urbanisation, the region  is already straining its capacity to effectively treat wastewater given its limited infrastructure. In these regions, wastewater is often discharged into some informal drainage channel or  the nearest surface drain. Adding to this mess are the small- and medium-sized enterprises and hospitals  dumping untreated medical waste and toxic chemicals into wastewater systems.

The  World Water Development Report estimates that society benefits by an estimated $5.5, for every $1 spent on sanitation, and notes that “neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable in the context of a circular economy”.

Treated wastewater can be a source of  energy,water and nutrients. Extraction  of by-products  from  wastewater like nitrogen,  salt and phosphorous  has proven lucrative in Asia-Pacific. For efficient management of wastewater,  support of municipalities and local governments needs to be solicited.

In Singaporen model of “NEWater”, largely used for industrial purposes shows how innovative measures can be used to derive potential benefits for industrial development and food production.

Water is life  and sustained commitment in needed towards its management to nourish the billions of lives.

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