Drinking toilet water could be in our future

THE WORLD is converging on Durban for the next few days to discuss the global water crisis. The theme for this year’s annual World Water Day is ‘Wastewater: The untapped resource’.

Experts and officials will be looking at ways to use water from toilets, baths and industries to supplement the ever increasing demand placed on the world’s fresh water sources.

Stefan Uhlenbrook, director of the UN’s World Water Assessment Programme said, “Waste water could be used as a source of energy in agriculture.” He went on to say that waste water contains interesting by-products like phosphorus and nitrogen and metals like potassium, which are essential for plant growth.

With 663 million people still lacking improved water sources, the consequences for people in these circumstances is that 115 people in Africa die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water. That’s according to the World Health Organisation who said that a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation still kills more children than malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS combined.

This year’s UN World Water Development Report says that over 80 per cent of the world’s wastewater is released to the environment without treatment. This is harmful to the environment and the people who cannot access clean, reliable water sources. The aim of the World Water Day Summit and Expo is for people and institutions to look at harnessing this reliable water source when it is treated.