Water is an essential, basic component of life that serves various purposes. Whether it’s for drinking, bathing or industrial use, it needs to be treated so it does not harm the environment or the people living in communities worldwide.
What is sustainable water treatment, and why is it vital? Various technologies are being used to benefit public health and the environment. Here’s what their impact means for people and the planet.
Why Does Water Need to be Treated?
The overall goal is to limit the amount of wastewater entering the environment, and as a result, water conservation initiatives are becoming more prevalent.
Wastewater, also known as sewage, is polluted water that results from rainwater runoff and human activities. It has potentially damaging effects on the surrounding ecosystem, whether coming from a home or a large business.
Before processing, wastewater can cause human diseases, such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other illnesses. Marine ecosystems also struggle when it enters their vicinity. For example, some substances in polluted water generate eutrophication, which causes algae to overgrow and reduce the amount of oxygen in aquatic regions.
Processing water before it enters the environment is beneficial for animals, plants and humans living in the surrounding area.
How Sustainable Water Treatment Is Beneficial
Nature can handle some water pollutants and flush them out accordingly, but human intervention is needed when processing large quantities of wastewater. Certain contaminants can have harsh effects on the environment:
- Metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium can have acute and chronic effects on different species.
- Pharmaceutical and personal care products can pose threats to human and animal life.
- Bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens can harm beaches and pollute shellfish populations.
- Chlorine compounds and inorganic chloramines can be toxic for some species, such as algae, fish and aquatic invertebrates.
- Decaying organic matter removes oxygen from the environment, and aquatic biota can’t survive.
This is why water treatment is necessary. It benefits more than just the environment, animal species and humans. Water is used for so many things, and treating it carefully is a must.
For example, the biopharmaceutical industry used ultra-pure water to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, which was born out of necessity.
Once you consider the need for clean water and how many things it’s used for, you can understand why investing in wastewater treatment is vital.
However, traditional methods of treating water can be improved to be more sustainable. New technologies will play a pivotal role in securing the planet’s future.
How Water Treatment Technology Will Be a Gamechanger
Here are some emerging technologies that can make water treatment more energy-efficient and smarter to help achieve sustainability.
Nanotechnology for Filtration
Nanotechnology filtration essentially removes microbes and bacteria from water by using composite nanoparticles. They emit silver ions that remove contaminants and make water safe for drinking and cooking. This technology will likely become more prevalent to the average consumer as availability increases.
New monitoring systems allow companies to ensure the integrity of their huge water supplies, leading to fewer disruptions and leaks. Pressure and acoustic sensors are installed wirelessly and can stream real-time updates about potential issues so companies can respond quickly and effectively.
The agriculture industry uses such large quantities of water to operate, so using a more intelligent system will benefit farmers and the environment. Deploying precision irrigation systems is becoming increasingly common and will help with wastewater treatment.
Investing in Sustainable Water Treatment to Benefit the Environment and Public Health
While great strides have been made to increase access to clean water, some countries still struggle and lack access to basic sanitation services. According to the Gates Foundation, 3.5 billion people worldwide live without safely managed sanitation.
Sustainable water treatment will be even more necessary during the transition to renewables, a goal many countries are working to achieve.
Governments can only provide so much funding and propose so many bills or plans, so the move to privatize investments in sustainable projects, such as wastewater treatment, will be necessary for a sustainable future. It’ll be interesting to see new technology be implemented to protect the planet and its finite resources.