Wastewater Treatment: A Sustainable Solution To Water Scarcity

Water scarcity is a growing challenge facing the world today. Newly-released research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) showed that approximately one-quarter of the global population (approximately 1.9 billion people) do not have access to water 24/7 and regularly deplete their available water supplies before the end of each day. Alongside this, around 50% of the world’s population (approximately 3.9 billion people) experience water scarcity for at least one month throughout the year, with early predictions suggesting this figure is likely to rise to over 60% within the next 30 years. 

The countries experiencing the highest rates of water scarcity (rated as “high” or “extremely high” are located across Europe, Africa, and Asia and include: Greece, Belgium, San Marino, Cyprus, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Iran, Israel, India, and Chile. Medium-high risk countries additionally include the United States of America, China, Australia, Germany, and others. See the full distribution map here. These countries are all experiencing strain to meet their water needs for basic uses such as drinking water, adequate sanitation, and agriculture – placing further stress on food provision and medical care. 

One way to address water scarcity is through efficient wastewater treatment and recycling. Modern technology allows us to take industrial wastewater as well as domestic water and remove pollutants, bacteria, chemicals, and other residues to make the water safe again for drinking and other uses. 

Wastewater treatment plants such as LAT Water’s LAT Unit separate and remove these pollutants which allows for further recycling of nutrients and minerals that can be used across sectors such as agriculture to provide a more self-sustaining process. Even wastewater from the world’s biggest polluters and most toxic industries can be recycled in this way to provide clean, safe water that can be released into the environment or used in the home.

However, as the process is highly complex, many consumers may initially find it off-putting and show resistance to the adoption of wastewater treatment technologies. In a previous article, we discussed the Toowoomba Water Futures referendum of 2006, where residents in Toowoomba, Australia, voted against supplementing their water supply with 25% recycled wastewater which led to strict water supply restrictions for the over 140,000 residents of the area. Following the referendum, research showed that had the residents voted in favour of the wastewater recycling scheme, the cost of water provision in the area would have cost taxpayers a staggering $100 million AUD less compared to current methods, as well as additionally allowing residents to enjoy ample water supply throughout the year. Case studies such as this one help highlight some of the challenges involved in modern wastewater treatment adoption as well as highlighting the additional expenses associated with technological stagnation combined with population growth. (At LAT Water, our industrial clients see upwards of a 70% reduction in energy consumption when switching to our bespoke LAT Unit as the treatment plant is innovatively powered using on-site waste heat.)

Some of the benefits of wastewater treatment and recycling:

It can reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.

When wastewater is not treated it can be extremely dangerous as it can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. Wastewater treatment can remove these pathogens, making the water safe to drink and use. This is not only a benefit to humans but also helps protect ecosystems and the environment from new forms of diseases and mutations. 

It can improve water quality for drinking, bathing, and other purposes.

As we’ve already mentioned, effective water treatment can remove all traces of pollutants from wastewater and make it safe to drink, bathe in, and even for recreational uses and gardening. It is also important to note, however, that not all treatment methods are equal and the treatment method will depend on the water’s intended end use, and further treatment may be required (LAT Water have full in-house testing facilities to ensure we provide optimal solutions – speak to our team to find out more).

It can help to protect ecosystems.

Wastewater can contain a range of pollutants including solids, liquids, and gases that can harm ecosystems (especially aquatic creatures) and create “dead zones” which take many years to recover. At present, one of the biggest challenges in wastewater treatment relates to the removal of chemicals present in wastewater as well as the growing amount of microplastics in our environment

It can recover valuable resources.

A secondary benefit of wastewater treatment is the recovery of valuable resources which as nitrogen, phosphates, and minerals which can be used in animal feed, fertilisers and soil conditioners to help promote healthy crop growth, for research and innovation purposes, and lots more. 

It can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Alongside direct nutrient recovery, wastewater treatment processes such as anaerobic digestion produce biogas, which can be crucial for renewable energy generation. Biogas is usually composed of around 50-65% methane gas and around 35-50% carbon dioxide and it’s become a popular renewable fuel in China where over 50 million households are powered by biogas

As water becomes more scarce, wastewater treatment will become increasingly important as a way to conserve water, protect the environment, and create a more sustainable future. 

Contact The LAT Water Team

If you’re looking for a new industrial wastewater treatment provider with modern technology and around-the-clock support, contact our team on +44 (0)1635 635900 or by emailing info@latwater.com. Download our corporate brochure for more details about our sustainable wastewater treatment solutions and check out the rest of our blog for more insights into the work that we do.

Elias Elia
22nd Aug 2023