Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 September 2010
Recycling urban wastewater and using it to grow food crops can help mitigate water scarcity problems and reduce water pollution, but the practice is not being as widely implemented as it should, according to a new FAO report.
Use of reclaimed wastewater in agriculture has been reported in around 50 countries on what amounts to 10 percent of the world’s irrigated land, according to “The Wealth of Waste: The Economics of Wastewater Use in Agriculture,” published today at the start of World Water Week (Stockholm, 5-11 September).
While on a global scale only a small proportion of treated wastewater is used for agriculture, the practice is winning increased attention worldwide and in a few countries — Spain and Mexico, for example — a high proportion of reclaimed water is used in irrigation.
“The case studies in this report show that safely harnessing wastewater for food production can offer a way to mitigate competition between cities and agriculture for water in regions of growing water scarcity,” said Pasquale Steduto, Deputy Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division. “In the right settings, it can also help to deal with urban wastewater effluent and downstream pollution.”
Farmers would also be able to avoid some of the costs of pumping groundwater, while the presence of nutrients in the wastewater would reduce their fertilizer expenses.
“Properly treated and safely recycled water can potentially offer a ‘triple dividend’ to urban users, farmers and the environment,” said Steduto. Continue reading