Since the inception of World Water Day 24 years ago to advocate for the sustainable management of water resources, several stakeholders have come together across the world each year to increase the awareness among people about the importance, need and conservation of water.
The focus this year, 2017 is waste water.
The campaign ‘why waste water?’ is about reducing and re using waste water. It is estimated that more than 3 million people in Ghana lack access to improved drinking water sources. Urban immigration keeps increasing day in and day out and more people are expected to live in cities. Currently, most of our cities do not have adequate infrastructure and resources to address wastewater management in an efficient and sustainable way. Worldwide, the vast majority of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to environment without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.3 requires us by 2030 to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. Progress towards target 6.3 will also help achieve the SDGs on health and well-being (SDG 3), safe water and sanitation (SDG 6), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), life below water (SDG 14), and life on land (SDG 15), among others. The SDGs covers a wide range of drivers across the three pillars of sustainable development, and include a dedicated goal on water and sanitation that sets out to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and also expands the focus on drinking water and basic sanitation to cover the entire water cycle, including the management of water and wastewater.
Waters that are used for manufacturing are degraded in quality as a result of the introduction of contaminating constituents. Organic wastes, suspended solids, bacteria, nitrates, and phosphates are pollutants that commonly must be removed. Industrial wastewater management thus covers the mechanisms and processes used to treat wastewater that is produced as a by-product of industrial or commercial activities. After treatment, the treated industrial wastewater (or effluent) may be reused or released to a sanitary sewer or to a surface water in the environment.
Most industries and businesses in Ghana produce some wastewater although recent trends in the developed world have been to decrease such production or recycle such wastewater within the production process. However, since many industries remain dependent on processes that produce wastewater, it is imperative to ensure that the wastewater is treated to produce effluent that meets standards to either be discharge directly to the environment or for re use.
The actual annual total wastewater production in Ghana has not been estimated yet. This is due to fact that little or no data exist on commercial and industrial wastewater production, except for domestic wastewater. In 2006, the estimated total amount of wastewater (domestic- grey and black waters, produced in urban Ghana was estimated to be approximately 280 million m3. With increasing spread of processing facilities into inland areas future increases in the percentage of wastewater from industrial sources could be expected.
It is estimated that urban wastewater generation in Ghana will increase from about 530, 346 m3/day (36%) in 2000 to about 1,452,383 m3/day (45%) in 2020 (Agodzo,2003).Wastewater treatment in the ten regions of Ghana is very abysmal, less than 8% of wastewaters (domestic) in Ghana undergo some form of treatment. Most industries located along the coast discharge their effluent directly into the ocean without any form of treatment, while those located in land discharge their effluent into major streams and urban storm drains.
On this occasion we encourage all industries to adopt effective approach to waste water treatment and optimization in recycling waste water for other uses and also discharge to the environment. Industries like Nestle Ghana, Guinness Ghana, Accra Brewery, Cosmo Sea Foods, Coca Cola, Tema Oil Refinery, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Goldfields Ghana, Newmont Ghana among others deserve commendation for their foresight in building waste water treatment plants in a bid to conserve and sustain water for other purposes.
Policies and institutions set up for waste water management like the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) who have the core responsibility to ensure the availability of facilities for handling and disposal of domestic, commercial and industrial wastewaters as well as the Environmental Protection Agency EPA must firmly ensure total environmental safety and compliance with environmental regulations by industrial organizations.
In celebrating World Water Day, let us bear in mind that securing safe water and reducing the unregulated discharge of wastewater are among the underlying concept of wastewater management. Unmanaged wastewater has far reaching implications for the health of all aquatic ecosystems, which threatens to undermine the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services on which human wellbeing depends. Proper wastewater treatment enables ecosystems within water sheds to thrive and deliver services to communities and economies that depend on them.
Wastewater treatment and reuse in agriculture can also provide benefits to farmers in conserving fresh water resources, improving soil integrity, preventing pesticide and fertilizer discharge to surface and ground waters and improving economic efficiency.
Samson Anang (Cleanearth Scientific) | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.cleanearthsci.com