Have you ever thought of wastewater being used to irrigate agriculture? In a recent article posted by Science Daily, farmers explain the benefits of using wastewater to successfully manage their farms and WHO discusses the risks associated with doing so and how humans are affected. The study was called for when “885 million consumers were exposed to health risks” (IOP Publishing) So what exactly is wastewater and where does it come from? Wastewater is sewer water that has not been treated or filtered and it comes from large cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and etc. This wastewater tends to come from previous storms, establishments and already used water from homes and businesses. Domestic wastewater which comes from “discharged from plumbing fixtures, appliances, toilets, bath, laundry, and dishwashers in a residence” (OSSF). This water goes into runoff streams which eventually leads to large bodies of water and is then used to irrigate agricultural crops. You can only image the risks of using water that not only comes from human waste but the filthy water left over after a storm and/or in a sewer. The study was most intriguing in its findings because it states that “According to the study, farmers’ use of wastewater is most prevalent in regions where there is significant wastewater generation and water pollution.”(ScienceDaily) This caught my attention because water pollution is something we want to avoid, something we want to get rid of in our environment because of its harmful effects but instead it is used during vegetation and watering of crops. The USGS shares the process in which wastewater is treated “:The major aim of wastewater treatment is to remove as much of the suspended solids as possible before the remaining water, called effluent, is discharged back to the environment. As solid material decays, it uses up oxygen, which is needed by the plants and animals living in the water. “Primary treatment” removes about 60 percent of suspended solids from wastewater. This treatment also involves aerating (stirring up) the wastewater, to put oxygen back in. Secondary treatment removes more than 90 percent of suspended solids” (USGS) There is not much more information on this specific treatment of wastewater but with only a 90% effectiveness of wastewater treatment, there is still the 10% chance and all the risks associated with wastewater and polluted water.
http://“Environmental and Health Risks Associated with Reuse of Wastewater for Irrigation.” Egyptian Journal of Petroleum, Elsevier, 15 Feb. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S111006211530115X.