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WWD2017: Namibia uses wastewater

Each year on 22 March, the international community comes together to celebrate the world’s most valuable resource, water. Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface, and this year’s World Water Day (WWD) is dedicated to understanding the management of this precious resource, specifically the importance of wastewater.

Water is a resource that all people need on a daily basis. On the other side of things, all people also create sewage on a daily basis, a fact that is frequently overlooked. For this reason, the importance of wastewater persists, and its importance extrapolates because of on-going problems such as; climate change, environmental factors, population growth, increased urbanization, on-going water mismanagement and faulty water service provision systems.

Wastewater and the new water cycle

Wastewater can be used to Namibia’s advantage, and it importance is substantial due to the fact that that it is interconnected with other sources of water. For this reason, the repercussions of its mismanagement must be considered. With poor management, dangerous and harmful elements can enter the environment and can have devastating impacts on the environment and subsequently have an effect on us as humans (Menges, 2017).

Historically the natural water cycle accounts for wastewater. Through the natural process of precipitation and condensation, water is filtered through soil and creates aquifers, where water is naturally purified. Ground water, river runoff and transpiration from plants and animals causes evaporation and the process repeats itself. However, new factors now play into the water cycle.

Due to urbanisation there is a new water cycle, the urban water cycle. Rainwater and other water sources are caught in dams where the water receives pre-treatment for human consumption. It is then distributed for human consumption where, once used, is collected again. This wastewater is either classified as greywater or blackwater. Greywater is wastewater obtained from water used in bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines, whereas blackwater contains fecal matter and is therefore collected from toilets (Lamb, 2008).

Wastewater receives various treatments making it either ready for human consumption, especially relevant in Namibia, or will safely be reintroduced into the natural cycle. Treatment of waterwater can add essential nutrients that can be exploited for agricultural use. Without the last step there would be severe effects on the environment. Continue reading