Human waste and the health problems associated with it have been with us since the beginning of time. These problems increased at the point in history when we started using water to clean things. About 3,300 B.C., we began using it to move human waste to a different location from where it originated, further complicating the issue. Wastewater treatment didn't really begin until we started realizing that there were problems with how we were disposing of the untreated wastewater.
Conventional wastewater treatment assumes that a co-mingled stream of toilet wastes mixed in with greywater from sinks, showers and the laundry can be eventually separated at the end of the sewer or septic pipe. With the daily reports of water shortages, environmental pollution and contamination from new sources, such as pharmaceuticals, resulting from those traditional methods, in order to solve those problems steps should be taken to separate and treat the pollutants at the source.
Pressure is increasing to introduce pollution reducing, water conserving and recycling measures for sustainable residential and small community water/wastewater systems. Media accounts of inadequate water quality and quantity are being reported daily. Since the terrorist acts to the New York World Trade Center and Pentagon, community water supplies and reserves have become potential targets for bio-terrorism. Systems utilizing blackwater (wastewater from toilets, urinals and garbage disposals) separation and greywater treatment—filtration and disinfection technologies for partial or total reuse—represent a logical and economic option for reducing and eliminating these pressures and improving national security.
With threats of bio-terrorism of our water supplies, present day wars being fought over water related issues, billions of people worldwide without sanitation and clean water, a new sustainable paradigm of “Doing More With Less” offers the most logical, economic and environmental approach for enhancing people’s standard of living while reducing the impact on the water supplies.
Key Terms: blackwater/greywater separation & treatment, pollution prevention, water recycling, water conservation, closed-loop/zero discharge.