Mar 27, 2017 News
…as GWI moves to treat waste water
Housing schemes being developed in the coming years, will most likely be outfitted with central water treatment plants, intended to replace the erection of septic tanks on individual premises. This is according to Junior Communities Minister, Dawn Hastings-Williams.
“Right now, we are in the discussion phase,” the Minister told Kaieteur News on the sidelines of a Wastewater Conference held recently at the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI)’s Vlissengen Road, Georgetown office.
The initiative to construct water treatment plants is being executed with the aim of addressing the growing threat of water pollution.
During his presentation at the conference, GWI’s Managing Director, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles pointed out that despite a plethora of septic tanks countrywide, there has been a deviation from the established design and construction of such units.
“Our Engineers are therefore collectively seeking to arrive at more efficient septic tank designs and in some cases, looking at their replacement with water treatment plants. This would in turn, require behavioural modification among the citizenry of Guyana,” Dr. West-Charles said.
He explained that the water company is currently focusing on the conversion of the sewage collecting station at Tucville, Georgetown, to a sewage treatment plant.
“As we observed World Water Day, March 22, 2017, under the theme ‘Wastewater’, every effort must be sought for the treatment of waste water, which is derived from domestic, industrial and agricultural activities,” Dr. West-Charles said.
The GWI official pointed out that Guyana, at the ministerial level, has not embarked on the treatment of water, but the water company has moved to heighten its focus and commitment to ensuring that Guyana is in a better place in this regard.
“These initiatives however, are not isolated to the coastland…it also takes into consideration, the rural and hinterland areas of Guyana.”
GWI has commenced a so far fruitful collaboration with Dr. Carlos Lopez Vazquez, Associate Professor at Wastewater Treatment Technology at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.
One component of the collaboration is a series of training under the broad topic of ‘Biological Wastewater’.
The exercise will see participants being trained in the design and assessment of wastewater treatment plants, using modern technologies.
“This is also to determine the best option that we can use in the treating of wastewater in Guyana,” Dr. West-Charles added.
He said that the water company has recognised the dire need to collaborate “inter-sectorally to ensure that the treatment of wastewater is a topic of central focus.”
“Hence, agencies such as the Ministry of Public Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the University of Guyana, the Mayor and City Council and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) are among those that we partner with,” Dr. West-Charles noted.
Also attending the event was Junior Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings. Speaking on the health impact of wastewater, she pointed out that waste water can originate from many sources such as homes, businesses and industries.
“Storm water, surface water and ground water can enter the wastewater collection system and add to the overall volume of wastewater in any given geographical space. The source of wastewater will determine its characteristics and how it must be treated,” Dr. Cummings said.
She made specific reference to the One Health Concept.
“This is simply one which recognizes that the health of humans is directly connected to the health of animals and the environment,” the Minister explained.
WASTEWATER – A VALUABLE RESOURCE
Rensforde Joseph, GWI’s Sanitation Manager, highlighted several valuable uses of the country’s wastewater supply. He explained only three to one percent of wastewater accounts for contaminants.
“The other 97 to 99 percent is actually pure water,” Joseph added.
He explained that wastewater, which is packed with beneficial minerals, is a valuable source of energy. “In fact, I think we should redefine wastewater as “new water”…it should be harnessed and respected,” Joseph said.
For a start, wastewater can tremendously benefit the agricultural sector. Guyana, as indicated by Joseph, would be better off if it were to convert aspects of its wastewater into fertilisers.
“Agriculture is one of our main bases of income, but yet, we are purchasing fertilizers and other additives for soil from all parts of the world, but we have resources within our wastewater, that can be used to help in our crop yield,” Joseph said.
He specified that the utilization of sewage sludge for the production of fertilizer is a practice long in use by countries like China, India and Holland.
Additionally, wastewater, just like wind and solar, is also a very valuable source of alternative energy.
“A recent study by Newcastle University in England, found that the internal chemical energy of the sample of sewage is approximately 6.3 kilpjoules per litre. It is estimated that wastewater produced per year by the world’s 6.8 billion people contained 70 – 140 gigawatts of electricity,” Joseph highlighted.
He explained that in Guyana’s case, the Georgetown Sewage system alone sees a daily discharge of over 11,000 cubic meters. This, Joseph pointed out, has the potential to generate as much as 500 kilowatts or 0.5 megawatts of power per day.
“Therefore, as we observe World Water Day 2017 under the theme, “wastewater,” let us grasp the opportunity to begin the paradigm shift, so that wastewater is no longer seen as a problem, but rather, as an opportunity,” Joseph advised.
Even with the benefits, wastewater is still a major health hazard.
According to Statistics provided by GWI, over 80 percent of wastewater generated globally, flows back into the ecosystem without being treated. Some 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated by faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.
World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on 22 March. The day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.
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