What role does wastewater treatment play in the global water crisis? As the world’s population continues to grow the demand for clean water grows right along with it. 

Many human activities produce at least a small amount of wastewater and The United Nations Environment Program projects water demand will increase by 50 percent by the year 2030. Some of the most water-intensive activities include, but are not limited to, agriculture and growing cites and expanding industries, particularly in developing nations. 

The Problem 

Currently, two-thirds of the world’s population resides in areas that have water-scarcity issues, with half of those people living in India and China.

In addition to the agricultural industry being responsible for 70 percent of worldwide water use, hefty increases in water demand are forecasted for energy production and industrial applications. Additionally, increased urbanization and expansion of municipal water-supply and sanitation systems also adds to the increasing demand. 

It should also be noted that people who live in highly vulnerable areas of non-renewable groundwater sources have become extremely dependent on water being brought in from areas with an abundant water supply. If current usage trends continue water quality will continue to diminish in the coming years. This is especially true in developing countries in arid areas. 

The Solution 

The majority of developed countries treat roughly 70 percent of all wastewater produced. However, the amount of treated wastewater declines to less than 40 percent for middle-income countries and to a shockingly-low eight percent for the least-developed countries. If countries that currently do not have water-treatment faculties in place would begin treating wastewater the global-water crisis could be greatly reduced.t. As a result of the ever-growing demand for water, wastewater treatment is picking up speed as a reliable and renewable water source. This attitude is helping to shifting the model of wastewater management from disposal to a renewable resource. When looked at the dilemma in this manner, wastewater is no longer viewed as a problem requiring a solution, but rather as a large part of the solution to worldwide water shortages. 

Treated wastewater can also create a cost-effective and renewable source of energy, organic nutrients and other beneficial by-products. The prospective benefits of acquiring these resources from wastewater have the potential to go well beyond the benefits for environmental and human health, and could also provide for producing and protecting sustainable food and energy resources. 

Worldwide Wastewater-Treatment Trends 

Impressive gains have been made in recent decades, with over two billion people having received access to improved water-sanitation facilities since the 1990s. Still, almost 2.5 billion people worldwide don’t have access to adequate amounts of clean water. Continuing advancements in wastewater treatment technologies and an ongoing commitment from the more advanced nations of the world to help the poor counties develop wastewater-treatment plants are necessary to insure there will be enough safe water for everyone in the years to come.