, Research Paper
Alternatives to the Clean Water Dilemma
Because of our increasing populations around the world, more and more of our clean drinking water is being used and contaminated. The world needs to take action immediately. Implementing one plan will not save our drinking water, but instead several different things need to come in to effect to preserve the world’s clean drinking water.
One alternative we have is to make people implement a wastewater garden in their homes and businesses. A wastewater garden is a garden made up of specially chosen plants and soils that can dispose of our harmful wastes in a totally non-harmful way. The way it works is all of the greywater from washing machines, showers, tubs and sinks will drain into a holding tank, where the small amounts of oils are separated out. Blackwater from toilet waste can also go into the tank given proper treatment first. The wastewater is then pumped into the garden where the plants will essentially eat, drink and breathe away the contaminants found in the wastewater. Certain kinds of plants “purify” the contaminants into useful energy while clean water evaporates. All that is leftover from the wastewater is plant biomass, evaporated water, carbon dioxide and heat. When the plants are harvested they can be composted, used or even sold for profit. Plants such as bamboo and holly work very well in a wastewater garden. The evaporated water and heat can be recaptured to offer a clean source of pure distilled water and for heating air or water. One option for creating a wastewater garden is to use a greenhouse, which will cause higher temperatures and can help heat your house (Waste 1-3).
This alternative would probably be a pretty expensive and labor intensive project to set up, but once it is set up there is not much upkeep except to maintain the plants in the garden.
Another alternative to this would be to have local communities set up large wastewater gardens to treat the communities’ wastewater as a whole. The Federal and State Government should give great benefits to cities who do accomplish this and perhaps help pay for the installation of a wastewater garden. Arcata’s Marsh would be a good example of a wastewater garden that treats the communities’ wastewater.
Another alternative to help prevent the wasting of clean water is to implement composting toilets that use virtually no water. One type of a composting toilet system is called the carousel. It consists of a fixed outer container and a revolvable inner drum or “carousel.” The inner carousel is divided into four separate composting chambers with drain holes in the bottom. All of the excrement, toilet paper and vegetable scraps go into once chamber at a time. After the first chamber is filled the carousel turns to the second chamber, and so on until all four chambers are filled. In the warm, moist environment, aerobic microbes will, over time, transform the solids into safe and valuable oxidized dry humus, a stable nutrient for plants. The humus can be buried on your property to benefit trees and plants or a septic pumping contractor can remove it for you (Carousel 1-3).
This is also a fairly expensive system to start up, but will save people money in the long run and will benefit their trees and plants. People will also be conserving lots of clean water and helping to cope with the world’s clean water dilemma.
Another alternative to conserving our clean water is to put in more efficient irrigation systems in many of the grain producing countries around the world. In many places, less than one third of the water used for farming actually waters the plants. The rest is wasted. A few places, like the U.S., have come up with very efficient irrigation systems that are 90% efficient.
If we could get other countries around the world to implement these systems, enormous amounts of clean water would be conserved. The problem is they do not have the finances to switch over to another system or irrigation. Some places also refuse to switch to different methods because of their beliefs and traditions. We would have to give other countries incentives to switch to water efficient irrigation systems. One thing the U.S. could do is help pay for the installation of new water efficient irrigation systems in other countries. The U.S. could also give countries other things they need, such as food or military support. I think it would be worthwhile for us to do anything we can do get other countries to help conserve clean water, since the world’s future depends on it.
“Wastewater Garden” Ecological Engineering http://www.ecological-engineering.com/wwgdescrip.html December 1999.
“Carousel 4-in-1″ EcoTech http://www.ecological-engineering.com/ecotech.html January 2000.
“Clean Water-The Road Ahead” Clean Water Action Plan http://www.epa.gov/cleanwater/action/overview.html January 2000.