Wastewater Disposal – a waste of waste
Nobody wants anything to do with water after it’s been used to deal with wastes, just to flush and forget. And off it goes through an archaic system of drains and sewers to treatment plants - that don’t really treat it thoroughly - before discharge into the eco-systems where Nature is relied on to finish the job. Which it cannot do with the persistent synthetic chemicals and micro-plastics now finding their way into wastewater streams.
The alternative of on-site wastewater treatment ‘septic’ systems is no better, if anything prone to be far worse in the risk of polluting the local environment. All rely on biology that’s sensitive to many uncontrolled factors, and when malfunctioning the consequences go largely unseen. Groundwater contamination is a particular and frequent occurrence, from the effluent.
But apart from the environmental impacts from conventional wastewater systems, what is lost are the valuable nutrients the wastes contained. Following on from ‘You are what you eat ’ is ‘what you eat you excrete’ – and that includes the nutrient elements used to grow the food in the first place. Around half of the world’s food supply relies on the use of fertilisers - minerals extracted from depleting resources and petrochemical products – all then lost by dispersion to land and sea.
For decades the ECO-SAN movement has been looking for ways to remedy the situation, through three guiding principles:
Separation at source: waste streams with different compositions should be treated separately according to their properties;
Decentralisation: waste streams should be treated as closely to the source as possible, to minimise resource consumption and environmental pollution;
Resource recovery: treatment should focus on recovering the resources contained in the waste streams.
Which is exactly what the IUS concept does, all of it, as a natural consequence of the process design. The resources are captured in concentrated, stable and sterile form for direct use as fertiliser products, and thereby ‘closing the nutrient cycle’. Along with the water being recovered for re-use, and micro-plastics never escaping into the environment....