Around 71 percent of Earth’s surface is covered with water, yet, only 2.5 percent of this is available as freshwater. Of this, only 0.007 percent is available for human consumption. The amount of freshwater has remained approximately the same through the centuries, but as the human population exploded, the number of people depending on this finite resource has also grown. This has caused a severe water crisis in many parts of the world.

Of course, water is an absolute necessity for life, which makes it even more important to conserve this precious resource. One way to manage water resources is through wastewater management.

What is wastewater management?

Very simply put, wastewater management is the process by which wastewater, which has been used and cannot be utilised further, is released back into the environment after it is treated. Bathing, using the toilet, rainwater runoff, industrial processes, etc. produce a lot of wastewater. At this stage, it is brimming with bacteria, chemicals, and other toxic pollutants. The aim of wastewater management is to treat this water to eliminate all harmful toxins and germs and make it safe to be released back into the environment.

Wastewater management systems can either use chemical or biological treatment plants. Chemical waste management plants use chemical or physical processes to treat wastewater, whereas biological treatment plans employ bacteria to do this task. While most households use biological systems, industries usually rely on chemical or physical systems to treat their wastewater.

Why is wastewater management important?

There is limited fresh water available for use by humans. While water scarcity is not an immediate issue in most developed countries, many developing nations are facing a shortage of potable water. New Zealand’s water resources are not in immediate danger; however, making it available in the right place at the right time is a challenge. A recent report by New Zealand’s Ministry of Environment stated that human activity is “significantly” affecting the quality and quantity of fresh water in the country. Water shortage might be an abstract concept for most right now, but it is a reality many places around the world, including California in the United States of America, are facing at the moment. Here are a few reasons why wastewater management is important:

1)    Water conservation in homes:

We use a lot of water on a daily basis. Our daily activities like bathing, brushing teeth, washing clothes and dishes, etc. produce a lot of wastewater. This water has to be properly treated before it is let back into the water bodies. If it is released untreated, it could contaminate freshwater sources and disrupt ecosystems.   

2)    Sustainable development:

Freshwater resources will face increased stress in the future as the world population continues to grow. In fact, a UN report has revealed that the world will only have 60 percent of its total water needs by 2030. Therefore, it has become crucial that water is recycled wherever and whenever possible. Recycled water should not pose a threat to public health hence wastewater management is essential to ensure sustainable development.

3)    Reduced stress on freshwater bodies: 

Less than 1 percent of water is available as freshwater, and our resources are already stressed with the present demand. This means every drop of water is precious and we cannot afford to waste it. By properly treating wastewater that is generated by homes and industries, we can contribute towards reducing complete dependency on freshwater resources. 

We need to be more mindful of how we use water and in our approach to conserving it. Water conservation and management efforts need to be doubled, with each person taking responsibility for this resource in their vicinity. Wastewater management is one of the ways we can ensure we are taking care of and unburdening our water resources.

With more than 3000 wastewater systems treating in excess of 2.5 million litres of wastewater every day throughout the region, our track record speaks for itself.