In any country where the economy is growing fast, urbanisation increasing and wetland drainage on the loose, the resulting water stress is understandable. The thirst for water has been growing in recent years in some areas, meaning that the economy, especially the agricultural and power sectors could be at risk. If this issue is not addressed, it might actually spread and become common. Popular ways of addressing the disparity between supply and demand include water loss measures and operation efficiency among others. While such measures are effective, many facilities have not considered wastewater as a possible area of interest. A huge percentage of wastewater continues to end up in the water sources in untreated form.
A Closer Picture
The impact on the water by poorly managed wastewater can be either microbial or chemical. Some of the more dangerous contaminants in wastewater are pathogens, heavy metals, nutrients and organic pollutants. Generally, wastewater is classified as industrial, agricultural and domestic or stormwater. Regardless of the source, management is necessary because the components are harmful nevertheless. A few innovations have helped use wastewater to the better. Some of these solutions are highlighted next.
The world has been trying to solve the energy deficit in ingenious ways for many years. The heat pump market has already managed to harness heat from the ground, air and water. One area that is drawing a lot of attention presently is wastewater. Commercial heat pump installers will tell you that wastewater can be a rich source. Test programs are going on in various places to determine the feasibility of wastewater heat for heat pumps as used in HVAC systems. Interestingly, such an installation would leave the existing ductwork for most facilities intact. The goodness of an HVAC system based on this kind of heat pump is the reduction in emissions and energy costs.
Wastewater for irrigation is not new, but its use is becoming wide every day. Population growth seems to be the major trigger for this development, but water scarcity is the bottom line in most developed countries. Wastewater for agricultural irrigation is available as treated wastewater, urban wastewater, grey water and recycled water. Its use on land could be direct or indirect, depending on the dissipation process. Such water has its risks such as chemical pollution and ecological impact, but there are many benefits including nutrients for crops, regular supply and improved crop supply. Users of this water should probably do an analysis before embarking on the project.
When it comes to industrial settings, especially in power plants, wastewater can be reclaimed for a wide range of applications including evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling is an essential process in regions with high ambient temperatures, where it enhances efficiency and power output. This type of industrial application can have massive impact in industrialising countries because of its cost-effective nature. Industries located close to the cities would benefit the most from perpetual supply of secondary effluent.
The wastewater industry is definitely full of challenges, but there are opportunities as well. To unlock its potential, financial support and smart solutions are necessary. Every stakeholder should pool their resources to make sure that profits are made from the mess.