Domestic Wastewater Reuse and Recycle
Water-based problems are becoming increasingly common and rated amongst immediate and serious environmental threats facing humans. The use of water has across the globe has increased tremendously since 1950 and many people do not have access to regular supply of safe and clean drinking water. Such issues have led to the dire need to enhance consumption of water more efficiently while augmenting water sources with sustainable alternatives.
There are modern and traditional approaches being employed to enhance water supply efficiency. Wastewater recycling for example is one of the approaches among some of the strategies that have served as an essential water resource management strategies for environmental and economic reasons.
Wastewater recycling processes across the globe are enhanced with a purpose of governing wastewater discharge to environment like storm, sewage effluent, industrial discharges and water runoff. It is a step primarily directed towards natural environmental protection from pollution occurring from wastewater related issues. Wastewater recycling at regional level is also practiced to enhance sanitation, wastewater recycling and environmental protection (Mabuchi et al, n.d).
In the UAE, wastewater recycling is however aimed at meeting the growing demands of water usage in the region. The resource is called reused based on the fact that it is scare in UAE. Therefore this report aims at evaluating wastewater recycling in MENA region.
Domestic wastewater reuse and recycling technologies
International: a number of advanced and innovative technologies are currently available to facilitate wastewater recycling processes. They may include biological processes tertiary wastewater treatment highly linked to nutrient removal. Vigneswaran and Sundaravadiel (2001, p.3) for example, stated Intermittently Decanted Extended Aeration Lagoon is a nitrogen removing system.
The biologically enhanced phosphorous removal’ (BEPR) system is a crucial tertiary treatment technology (Vigneswaran & Sundaravadivel, 2001, p. 3). Additionally, the physiochemical processes utilize membrane filtration and deep bed filtration technologies.
Hybrid processes for example are technologies that involve a mixture of physiochemical and biological processes including membrane bioreactors. The removals of nutrient processes also do not necessarily incline the direct reuse of wastewater. Nevertheless, they provide an ideal platform for wastewater treatment to have the reusable aspect.
Physiochemical processes on the other hand have a critical role in water reuse technologies. For instance, modified form of deep bed filtration has a major role in water recycling based on its simplicity. Similarly, membrane filtration comes with amazing benefits in regards to other processes because of its high quality effluent that needs little disinfection and no minimum sludge generation (Vigneswaran & Sundaravadivel, 2001).
Regional (MENA): The region employs the use of conventional wastewater recycling technologies involving the combination of biological, physical and chemical processes alongside operations that eliminate solids, organic matter and nutrients from wastewater. Secondary, primary, preliminary and tertiary levels are involved in the advanced wastewater treatment in MENA region.
However, conventional treatment system is somehow costly and applicable at the small scale level. In this relevance, the rural and peril-urban environments, wastewater recycling employs the use of alternative strategies including low cost treatment systems such as septic tanks that have sub drainage irrigation pipes (Abu-Madi & Al-Sa’ed, R, n.d).
The sub flow anaerobic forms and tanks are also used followed by the use of furrow irrigation among other strategies. The most frequently applied system within MENA region however consists use of lagoons, trickling filters and sludge systems. Some countries in the region also include disinfection process aimed at eliminating pathogens, and its serves as the last wastewater treatment option.
Application Of Resused/Recycled Domestic Wastewater
International: agricultural crop irrigation is one of the biggest and oldest wastewater resuse. Using wastewater in irrigation offers many benefits including reduced dependence on fertilizers, increased crop yields and enhanced protection from damage. Current wastewatre resuse for agricultural purposes in developed countries was pioneered by research studies carried out in Californi between 1970s and 1980s consisting of Pomona virus and Monterey wastewater reclamation studies for agriculture (Vigneswaran & Sundaravadivel, 2009).
Recycled wastewater is additionally used for recreation and landscaping. The water is also used in urban green belts, cemeteries, golf courses, freeway medians, residential laws and in public parks. It is therefore, the most dominant wastewater reuse application across the globe and more specifically in countries such as Japan, the USA, Saudi Arabia and Australia among other countries.
The application also helps in enhancing urban environment amenity. Nontheles, such schemes need to be carefully operated to prevent problems in regards to community health. This is also based on the fact that such applications often occur in places that are open to the general public thus, increasing possibilities for human contact with different diseases.
Wastewater resuse is also used for industrial and domestic application such as indirect portable purposes, industrial use, not potable purposes as well as direct potable purposes. For instance in Japan, recycled water is used for domestic and industrial purposes as indicated in the table below (Vigneswaran & Sundaravadivel, 2009).
|Wastewater treatment plant
|Quantity (in 1000m3 @year)
|Refuse incineration plant
|Dirt regulation by wetting
Regional (MENA): recycled wastewater is treated to suit the desired quality for artificial recharge, flushing toilet, potable water supply, irrigation and industrial water supply. The water is also used for directly or indirectly for agricultural irrigation. In Tunisia, some of their treated effluent is efficiently used in irrigation and more specifically production of fruits including pears, olives, grapes, citrus, peaches, pomegranate and peaches.
Additionally, the water can be used in irrigation of crops such as cotton, fodder, cereals and in other applications such as irrigation of golf courses and lawns. Treated wastewater is also used for human consumption (portable drinking water) while facilitating supply of water for domestic use in large cities and towns (indirect portable reuse) within MENA.
In the UAE, Kuwait and Tunisia, reclaimed wastewater is utilized in sports fields and public parks among other recreational sites. Countries within MENA region use the water for industrial applications mainly to facilitate innovative projects in multiple industries. For this reason, different industries are located in areas adjacent to populated regions to allow for ease in wastewater reclamation (Abu-Madi & Al-Sa’ed, n. d).
The current situation of domestic wastewater reuse within UAE
Technology: A new recycling water technology is already applicable in UAE in observing environmental concerns. Technology has taken the form of reed beds that recycle wastewater naturally (Abdel-Dayem et al, 2011). The water is filtered using different gravel basins and sand filters planted by reeds. A number of reed beds have also been established in UAE and are truly committed to satisfying the ‘’Abu Dhabi Sewerage and Services Standards’ (ADSSC).
Capacity: UAE owns one WWTP in Dubai (i.e. activated sludge system). It is overworked and bypassed by different trucks that dump wastewater in inappropriate manner and it is also bypassed by different trucks dumping raw wastewater in an illicit manner (illegal) within water drains.
In relation to costs, a high number of new investments are also being held within sewerage and irrigation infrastructure. The investment plan in Dubai is being currently revised with the government financing role included in the investment process right from national funds. In Dubai for example, the government is making a lot of investments to upgrade the WWTP already in place while another one is being planned (Abdel-Dayem et al, 2011).
Operation: ‘Abu Dhabi Sewerage Service Company’ (ADSSC) apparently holds runs and maintains two wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in 236 pumping locations with (80% located in Abu Dhabi). More than 7400km of the sewer while (66% located in AD). ADSSC is similarly obliged to plan and implement system expansion that is needed for supporting future growth (Abdel-Dayem et al, 2011).
Application: UAE similarly used treated wastewater for irrigation purposes. Other wastewater applications in UAE are found in cooling plants, golf courses, public parks and in palaces. Roughly, 70 of the water in the region are used in watering gardens (Abdel-Dayem et al, 2011).
Advantages and disadvantages of Wastewater Reuse
Environmental Benefits: through provision of extra water source, the practice of water recycling helps in discovering methods of reducing diversion of water from sensitive ecosystems. Fish, plant and wildlife what’s more, depend on sufficient flow of water in their ecosystem to live and reproduce. Therefore, recycling provides adequate supply of water to prevent water resource diversion for urban, industrial and agricultural use, which can easily deteriorate water quality and health of a given ecosystem.
The recycling process also helps in eliminating discharge of waste water to the ecosystem while preventing pollution. It also helps to eradicate or reduce discharge of water to streams, estuaries and oceans. Additionally, the water can be used to enhance or create wetlands and riparian habitats. Such habitats promote the improvement of water quality, minimize floods and enhance breeding grounds of fisheries (McGovern & Bastian, 2011).
Social Benefits: reused water meets the needs of majority of human use as well as domestic applications (drinking water). The water must nevertheless be recycled property to gain its benefit. The water is in most cases affiliated with social benefits within recreation centers where people can go to and have fun and they include golf courses and public parks (McGovern & Bastian, 2011).
Economic Benefits: Since recycled water is often used for irrigation purposes, it benefits different economies because they use the water to enhance their agricultural sector through increased crop production in areas affected with water scarcity for example the Arab countries. The production helps in meeting domestic use while enabling such countries to export its surplus production and generate more income.
The water also benefits different operations in the industrial department because the water can be used to cool water for power plants and oil refineries (McGovern & Bastian, 2011). Additionally, the water benefits industrial processes in different facilities including paper mills, dust control, carpet dyers, toilet flushing, concrete mixing and creation of artificial lakes. Such industries certainly are a great source of economic growth in the country.
Negative environmental impact: wastewater use for irrigation purposes can negatively impact the environment in different ways. Wastewater can have slats that accumulate in root zones of crops causing harmful effects on crop yields as well as health of soils (Eshtawi & Kanyoka, 2012). Besides such effects, salt leaching also occurs beneath root areas causing soil and ground water pollution.
Wastewater can also transfer heavy metals to fertile grounds affecting the flora and fauna of soils, causing crop contamination. The use of wastewater also affects the quality of groundwater reservoirs through excess salts and nutrients on root zone of plants in the long run. Wastewater irrigation can also dislocate pathogenic bacteria and viruses to groundwater (Eshtawi & Kanyoka, 2012).
Associated Health Risk: wastewater must be sufficiently treated to a certain quality deemed good for human consumption. Water that is not properly treated can cause various health problems. Drinking or being exposed to recycled water with disease causing organisms or other contaminants affects human beings by causing diseases (McGovern & Bastian, 2011).
Economic Disadvantages: even though water recycling is cost effective and a highly sustainable approach for long term benefits, wastewater distribution and treatment system installation in centralized facilities could be an expensive project. This is in comparison to other sources of water including imported, ground and gray water use onsite from the home (McGovern & Bastian, 2011).
SWOT Analysis of Domestic Wastewater Reuse within the UAE
Strengths: UAE also constructed four large scale plants through partnerships with the ‘private sector’ through build-own-operate transfer (i.e. BOOT) arrangements. The four facilities located in Al Saad, Al Wathbahave and Allahamah has been proven successful public private collaboration in availing water for irrigation from treated wastewater from urban areas (Levine & Asano, 1998).
Weaknesses: majority of water recycling activities in UAE, are driven by water scarcity. There after striving for effectiveness and efficiency in higher regional use and water allocation (Levine & Asano, 1998). Wastewater treatment plants in the region are also overloaded, under designed and characterized with poor operation and maintenance. Consequently, it tampers with consistency in availing the level of water quality that is designed for safe reuse.
Opportunities: research also indicates that the UAE employs conventional ways of wastewater recycling for reuse. Even so, it is imperative to note benefits linked to reusing water is highly dependent on effectiveness of recycling process to generate water of the best quality for its reuse.
However, UAE has an opportunity to adopt modern advanced technologies of recycling wastewater (Burton et al, 2006). Application of such technologies enable UAE to implement effective recycling process to ensure water for reuse is properly recycled to prevent negative effects on the environment and to prevent health risks. Improving wastewater reuse is similarly will help in reducing excessive water shortage in the UAE, giving citizens alternative water sources.
The region’s economic standing will also increase crop production with efficient operations of diverse industries.
Threats: expanding and enhancing wastewater reuse wastewater within UAE may not be easy because of challenges facing the process. Institutional barriers for instance plus different agency priorities or public misperception in regards to recycled water challenges the implementation of water recycling projects in UAE. Other challenges include extremely strict regulations and standards, financial limitations and technical limitations alongside lack of political commitment (Levine & Asano, 1998).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Water recycling has additionally proven as an excellent and efficient way of creating reliable and additional supply of water. In different areas of the globe, the degree of the practice has been on the rise on daily basis as more countries seek to accommodate increasing needs for environmental protection and supply. Different technologies are also applicable in facilitating this kind of practice.
The UAE government in planning perspective should emphasize on demand driven planning strategy of their project reuse
- Relevant bodies should also utilize cost pricing to reduce water use and excessive pollution while ensuring sustainability of wastewater treatment projects.
- Adopting advanced modern recycling technologies for wastewater to achieve maximum results
- Create a UAE trusted institution to ensure safest and healthy standards to build confidence amongst end users on using recycled water.
- The UAE should also cultivate clear political promotion and support of local water resources policies and strategies
- The country should also similarly allocate funds supplying research concerning sustainable and treatment processes for wastewater that adapt to socioeconomic and climatic conditions in an area.
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