Importance of Wastewater
Any discussion on sewage and wastewater treatment often boils down to the latest technologies and the operational advancements in the field. Latest cutting-edge technologies for wastewater recycling, biological treatment, sludge less technologies and eco-friendly techniques get all the attention. Everyone likes to discuss concepts like zero discharge, total recycling, zero liquid and New Water catch the attention of the media and are the focus of all conferences.
Water shortage is very imminent and therefore we need to conserve fresh water. We treat and use wastewater better, as the scarcity of fresh water is going to drive cost of water high. Policy makers need to look at water in a holistic manner and see it as a resource. There is a need for a future-based approach. To provide water to various deprived segments of the economy, we need to conserve, use and manage it better.
Secondly, recycled wastewater can be used for any application. Today, the technology is not a constraint; it is our thinking which limits us. To manage its water resources better, Singapore supplies recycled sewage water to its advanced semiconductor FAB industries. These industries need high-purity water, free from all impurities. They had grave reservations about the applicability of recycled wastewater. However, their concerns have been gradually addressed and all 14 major semiconductor industries in Singapore operate on treated wastewater. When such a critical and high-precision application can be served, there is no question about other needs.
The other big emerging area in wastewater treatment is the recovery of valuable by-products which can be reused. In the electroplating industry, for example, elements like nickel, cadmium and manganese can be recovered and add value. Various dyes in the textile and paint industry can be similarly reused after separation and segregation. This ensures that wastewater treatment can be a value-adding and revenue-earning process.
Economic progress, industrial development and social development are critically linked to better usage of wastewater. Environmental improvement is also key if we have to leave this planet in an acceptable state for our future generations. One needs to think in this perspective as we go forward.
Wastewater is not a waste, it has value. Let’s think wastewater management as value, not cost and bring the right attitude. An appropriate roadmap would then emerge on its own …