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World Bank calls for smarter wastewater management

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Autor: Jonas Völker

World Bank calls for smarter wastewater management

The report looks at wastewater projects around the world which have paid dividends for people, the environment, and economics in the short and long-term. Besides improving the environment and enhancing quality of life, safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing disease and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“At a time when 36 percent of the world’s population lives in water-scarce regions, wastewater treatment for reuse is part of the solution to water scarcity and pollution problems,” said Jennifer Sara, Global Director, World Bank Water Global Practice.

Economic benefits from reuse and resource recovery

The report outlines the economic benefits that wastewater treatment brings through reuse of the treated water as well as of nutrients and biogas. Additional revenues generated from this process can help cover water utilities’ operational and maintenance costs.
“In this sense, wastewater should not be considered a ‘waste’ anymore, but a resource. This it at the core of a circular economy, an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. As cities continue to grow, future urban development requires approaches that minimize resource consumption and focus on resource recovery, following principles of the so-called circular economy,” said Diego Juan Rodriguez, the report’s author and a Senior Water Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank. “One of the key advantages of adopting circular economy principles in wastewater management is that resource recovery and reuse could transform sanitation from a costly service to one that is self-sustaining and adds value to the economy. This will help countries bridge the funding gap in sanitation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
In recent times several wastewater projects were carried out successfully in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. The report gives detailed information about the cost savings. The attached video gives an impression of the necessity to invest in wastewater treatment in La Paz, Bolivia, were a National Strategy for Wastewater Management and Reuse is being developed.
The full report is available here.

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