How water conservation can affect the reliability of recycling

161004-F-XX000-011For years, I have been reading about the need to conserve water – to use lesser water to brush, bathe, wash and irrigate plants. I have also read a great deal on the need to recycle water – how used water from toilets can be reused for gardening, how used water from washing machines can be reused to clean floors and so on. In Singapore, where I live, NEWater has become such an important source of water that during the prolonged dry spell of 2014, rationing of water to citizens was avoided mainly thanks to the facilities for recycled water. Singapore has also gone out of the way to change the paradigm by referring to wastewater as “used water”.

But, somewhere at the back of my mind, I wondered what would happen to the supply of recycled water if people began to concertedly conserve so much that they produced lesser wastewater and consequently there was not enough water to recycle.   Continue reading

The obliviousness of water footprints

Shopping Supermarket Market Goods Food MeatI was sitting next to a Texas-based businessman from Saudi Arabia on the plane. He was highly amused to see me eating vegetarian. “If you give me vegetarian, I will throw it away and eat you!” he joked and bared his teeth.

I gulped and organised my thoughts on how to use this teachable moment to talk about water footprints without being offensive. He was already well-aware that vegetables were more healthy than meat but didn’t care because he’d rather live short and eat what he loved than live long eating vegetables. He wasn’t even co-relating his numerous health complaints like gout with diet. Caring for animals’ feelings would not cut ice with him because his favourite hobby was hunting.

“How do you like to drink toilet water?” I asked. Continue reading

Cleaning the Ganga is not about just cleaning the Ganga

http://www.niticentral.com/2014/08/29/cleaning-ganga-an-environmental-cultural-need-236845.html

ganga

Why are Hindu texts being blamed for India’s sanitation problems?

gurukul

The New York Times has just published an article which reports that malnutrition in India is not so much caused by the lack of nutrition as due to the lack of sanitation. This is indeed a damning discovery.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/world/asia/poor-sanitation-in-india-may-afflict-well-fed-children-with-malnutrition.html Continue reading

Passing the torch of learning

John Armitt

Each time a city is chosen for holding an important event such as the Olympics, it transforms the city’s landscape forever. Glittering new sporting venues shoot up along with parks, flyovers, apartments and other structures. The entire city gears up for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of visitors. Infrastructure assumes paramount importance. Suddenly, there is money to build new water/wastewater treatment plants and power stations. Continue reading

Direct Potable Reuse: Crossing the Barrier

Pandering to public perceptions can often lead to expensive and somewhat absurd decisions. Take the case of indirect potable reuse of water. Is it not a waste to purify wastewater to such advanced levels, blend it with water of lower purity and then let it get treated all over again at drinking water treatment plants to supposedly make it fit for drinking? Or to take tertiary treated effluent and make it recharge groundwater through layers of soil pulling in contaminants all over again? Continue reading