The use of untreated wastewater supplied for irrigation can have negative health and environmental impacts.
Why is wastewater used for irrigation?
With depleting natural water resources (such as stores from groundwater supplies found in wells or springs), wastewater is a widely adopted during the irrigation process.
Irrigation should be defined as “the application of water to soil for the purpose of supplying the moisture essential to plant growth”.
Wastewater often plays a vital role in keeping up with the growing demand for water resources due to the incline in the world’s population and the subsequent increase in crop, meat and milk consumption.
Sources of water:
Treating wastewater for irrigation - what problems can occur if water used for irrigation is left untreated?
Wastewater treatment is considered to be a health protection measure. The use of untreated wastewater supplied for irrigation can have negative health and environmental impacts. Factors creating such as impact include:
- Pollutants – organisms that can cause diseases, such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites are common in untreated water.
- Toxic chemicals – chemicals in untreated water have been found to be the root cause of cancers and other health concerns.
- Acids – acids in water can lead to rust from pipes and other toxic metals to get into the water supply.
- Minerals – minerals such as calcium or magnesium carbonates can contaminate the water.
In addition, wastewater from domestic sources such as toilets, sinks and laundry contain human body waste such as urine and faecal matter which functions as a breeding ground for disease organisms.
Untreated wastewater – who is at risk?
Many people are vulnerable to issues associated with the use of untreated wastewater such as:
- Residents living close to irrigated areas
- Consumers of farmed goods (meat, milk, crops)
- Crop handlers
- Farmers or agricultural workers
Animals can also be at risk from diseases caused by the consumption or inhalation of unclean water, which can then produce contaminated milk, dairy and meat products.
NCH Asia is committed to aiding in the production of renewable water sources and has extensive knowledge of wastewater treatment systems - read more information about wastewater treatment for irrigation.