Addressing the Wastewater Management Challenge

  • 2017/12/20     Chongqing, China

    Image: NRR-LWWTP2017

    Reporting by Jiwon Park, Intern, Communications and Advocacy

    Currently, improving water quality, especially the sustainable treatment of wastewater, is in the spotlight. Many researchers argue that a lack of appropriate wastewater treatment poses serious challenges to human health, water resource quality, energy, food security, and so on.

    In order to advance research on wastewater, a conference on Sustainable Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery: Research, Planning, Design and Operations (NRR-LWWTP2017) took place in Chongqing, China on 7–10 November 2017. The conference was organised by the IWA Specialist Groups: Nutrient Removal and Recovery (NRR), Design, Operation and Costs of Large Wastewater Treatment Plants (LWWTP), and Chongqing University (China). 288 participants from 22 countries including China and Germany attended the conference.

    UNU-FLORES researcher Sabrina Kirschke, Water Resources Management Unit, gave a presentation on the political dimension of wastewater management, looking at research activities in Latin America and globally. The presentation was based on joint research with Dr Avellán, Dr Caucci, and Ms. Kim (UNU-FLORES). The research highlights the necessity of including a social science perspective such as governance in particular, in research on wastewater, sewage, and sanitation in order to guarantee the long-term implementation of wastewater treatment systems. Social scientists should be involved in interdisciplinary projects in order to create the right framework conditions for resource management, Kirschke emphasised.

    Adequate wastewater treatment systems are still often lacking in developing countries. To enumerate the benefits of using constructed wetlands, Serena Caucci, a researcher in the Waste Management Unit at UNU-FLORES, delivered a presentation entitled “Constructed Wetlands for Resource Recovery in Developing Countries”. Constructed wetlands can be net producers of energy, and can support strengthening the water-energy-food security nexus. In her presentation, energy produced by constructed wetlands can offset ecologically damaging practices, but effluent from constructed wetlands also can be used to irrigate food crops.

    Image: NRR-LWWTP2017

    After the sessions, participants discussed political participation in the field of wastewater treatment in other countries, as well as the regulations for wastewater treatment in Germany. Overall, many of the presentations touched on technical innovations for sustainable wastewater treatment.