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UN: Rising reuse of wastewater in forecast but world lacks data on 'massive potential resource'
Date:9/4/2013

bic kilometers or 3.8% of that treated wastewater is used.

Tables in the study detail the wastewater generation, treatment and reuse -- and how up to date the numbers are -- in individual countries around the world.

"From the earliest of times, most wastewater has truly been wasted. However, it is a vast resource if we reclaim it properly, which includes the separation of municipal from industrial wastewater," says UNU-INWEH Director Zafar Adeel.

"Another way of envisioning the volume of the resource potentially available worldwide each year is to imagine 14 months watching the outflow from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico."

It has been reported that wastewater today irrigates between 1.5% and 6.6% of the global irrigated area of 301 million ha (1.2 million sq. miles) and that about 10% of world food is produced using wastewater. However, according to the study, there is little data to support such claims.

In developing countries, particularly in water scarce countries, wastewater volumes are thought to have increased substantially in recent years due to rural-urban migration.

Many farmers in water scarce developing countries irrigate with wastewater because:

  • It is the only water source available for irrigation year-round
  • Wastewater irrigation reduces the need for purchasing fertilizer
  • Wastewater irrigation involves less energy cost if the alternative clean water source is deep groundwater
  • Wastewater enables farmers in peri-urban areas to produce high-value vegetables for sale in local markets.

Says lead author Toshio Sato of Tottori University, Japan: "Given the growing importance of wastewater management to the health of people and economies at local and national levels, having up-to-date basic insights into wastewater generation, treatment and reuse is an essential investment."

"The key point underlined throughout this report is the need to inv
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
United Nations University
Source:Eurekalert

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