Wasting opportunities in wastewater

It's hard for a journalist who's spent years abusing the English language to resist the wealth of puns offered by a good sewage story - this week's offering on the value of wastewater as a resource was certainly no exception.

Through gritted teeth I managed to avoid a headline for this story that suggested we were flushing money down the drain or that where there's muck there's brass.

And I grappled with my inner cliché to avoid taking the gift that was 'we need a revolution in the wastewater management sector' and warping it into some form of 'sewage is revolting' word play.

Perhaps I've grown away from my newspaper roots, because a few short years ago I'd have taken every cheesy pun I could find and run with them, and would have no doubt been flushed with success at the end of the exercise.

On this occasion though, I managed to put the message before the craft, because at the end of the day, it's an important one.

Over recent years we've started to see our rubbish transformed into a resource - we no longer think twice about recycling at home and it seems common sense that second hand materials are reused on an industrial scale.

It seems only natural, for example, to use the rubble from a demolition job as aggregate for the new build that will replace it and it would seem odd to pick up a newspaper printed on crisp, heavily-bleached virgin paper.

But the public perception of sewage is different - we still see it as waste, pure and simple.

Now, I'm not saying that effluent is pleasant stuff, but attending Aqua-enviro's event looking at wastewater as a resource opened my eyes to a few things that I guess had sat in the back of my mind for a long time.

Failing to extract the resources from sewage is a nonsense - as much so as landfilling waste that could be rendered into raw materials once again.

So I suppose what I'm saying is I agree that we do need to look again at how we manage our wastewater, and that treating effluent shouldn't just be a drain on resources.

I genuinely hope that those of you working in the cutting edge of this sector really have got something more promising in the pipeline.Tim Door

Topics: Water
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