Human waste and sewage are ever-present aspects of our daily lives, and they form some of the largest threats to human life in existence today. There are many places over the world, in developed and developing countries, where there are still no sewage treatment plants or if they do exist they are improperly maintained or inadequate to deal with the task at hand. For those who have not been personally affected, though, it doesn’t seem to matter. But the truth is that it does matter, and here’s why.
Eutrophication: Destroying water-based ecosystems
It is a well-known fact that many sewage treatment plants release processed water into various water sources such as rivers, dams and oceans. With perfect sewage treatment, this would not pose a problem. However, a lot of the chemical waste that is dumped into the sewage system cannot be properly handled by the existing sewage treatment plants, and there are many sewage plants that are also simply unable to deal with the ever-increasing amount of waste produced.
Killing off aquatic life
As a result of the pollution that is then released into water sources, these water sources become overly rich in certain organic compounds such as phosphates and nitrates. This overabundance of organic compounds then leads to an extreme increase in microorganisms such as algae and plankton, often leading to algal blooms. When this occurs the aquatic plants no longer receive sunlight, and oxygen levels in the water decrease, leading to a drastic drop in aquatic life.
To make matters worse, as plants and animals die they sink and begin to decompose. The microbes responsible for carrying out this decomposition process then also use up more oxygen, further reducing the oxygen available in the water.
Health risks for human life
With a severe absence of free oxygen in the water, also known as anaerobic conditions, highly toxic cyanobacteria are able to grow. This is the same sort of bacteria as that which generates red tides, and it releases extremely powerful toxins which make the water highly poisonous to human life.
Those people who drink or swim in the water become extremely ill and many die as a result. Aside from the serious issue of rising mortality rates, the mere fact that the water has become poisonous restricts access to clean, safe water, which has further financial and health-related implications for many communities.
Effective sewage treatment plants are a necessity
In order to rectify this severe threat to human life and livelihood, effective sewage treatment plants are needed. One of the most innovative sewage plant solutions in modern times is the Nereda® sewage treatment system.
Nereda® is an innovative biological treatment process that has many advantages including reduced energy consumption (up to 50%), lower CAPEX costs and significantly reduced footprint. Nereda® also treats the effluent to the highest quality helping ensure we continue to protect our natural resources and heritage.
WEC Projects is the exclusive South African Nereda® licensee, and they operate throughout the African continent. Get in touch with them to begin the process of cleaning up Africa’s precious water sources, or for advice on what exactly can be done. We all need to play our part.