Wastewater recycling, part of the solution to water shortage?

After the report on mountaineering and my experiences on the ascent to Mount Aconcagua, I return to the subject of water, and the opportunities and challenges in recycling it.

In earlier posts here I wrote about a very sophisticated system of wastewater recycling in Singapore, which turns it back into drinking water.

And at this year’s Singapore International Water Week, the Californian Orange County received the highest recognition, for a scheme where perfectly treated wastewater is pumped back into underground aquifers, to be later pumped up again as drinking water. It also serves as a barrier to seawater intrusion.

These two examples, especially Singapore, are probably the most far-reaching examples I know of achievement in water recycling.

Places like San Diego, hit by a drought, are now re-considering again the idea to follow the Singapore example, despite some opposition from civil society. So, to what extent is it possible to scale up these kinds of activities globally; is there potential for wastewater to contribute in a substantial way to closing the gap of some 300 cubic kilometres between the level of water withdrawals and sustainable supply?

Estimates show close to 300 cubic kilometres of wastewater is generated by municipalities per year (average 2003-12). This is the equivalent of some 50% of global average annual withdrawals for household use.

Part of the other 50% of withdrawals not counted as ‘wastewater’ may well be lost in leakage in pipes (in some countries this accounts for up to 70% of the water withdrawn by the municipal water supply schemes). Another part could be ‘used’ through evapotranspiration in lawns and gardens, etc.

As the table below shows, only about half of this wastewater is actually collected and treated, but less than 10% of the treated wastewater is directly reused.

Table 1: Municipal wastewater generation and treatment data 2003-2012, country groups by income per capita

Source: FAO aquastat

 

To get an idea of how municipal water could contribute to closing the gap between withdrawals and sustainable supply, let me go through the water supply chain.

The first step would require a better understanding of what happens with the 50% of municipal water apparently ‘disappearing’. Where this is down to leakage, governments have to set the right incentives so municipal water authorities address the issue.

One way proposed by the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) in South Africa, which has been implemented by the government there, is to measure both water delivery and water intake, and to pay a premium to the schemes where the difference (i.e., water unaccounted for) gets smaller.

According to 2030 WRG cost-curve estimates, the cost savings would by far exceed the necessary spending to reduce the leakage.

As part of my proposals for targets within the water goal for post-2015 sustainable development, I suggest primary treatment of all wastewater by 2030 – an idea I will come back to in a later post.

So, what happens with 285 km³ of estimated wastewater generated, and what needs to be done? We will first have to increase collection, particularly in economically deprived areas, to make sure wastewater is collected and available for proper treatment.

Actually, only 36% of the world’s population has a sewage connection; this leaves 4.6 billion people unconnected. According to a WHO study, initial investment to set up a sewer connection is about USD 170 per capita; so the investment cost to connect them would be somewhere close to USD 800 billion. The annual cost of capital, repayment and operating cost is estimated at USD 1 per m³.

Next: treatment of both the up-to-now untreated collected – and the newly collected – wastewater. Estimates amount to USD 0.35 per m³. A big part of this cost is energy, an often forgotten link in the water-food-energy nexus framework.

And last but not least: less than 10% of treated wastewater is used directly. This can and must be increased. Direct use is, for instance, the Singapore approach, bringing treated water back to consumers as so-called ‘NEWater’.

Another example is Australia: around 1.4 cubic kilometers of municipal wastewater are treated, of which 0.4 cubic kilometers are used directly, mostly in agriculture.

At Nestlé we have a similar approach. All our factories treat wastewater (in fact the first wastewater treatment plant in the group was built in the 1930s, so we understood the need for this very early) and as much of this treated wastewater as possible is used directly.

At the same time, we should keep in mind indirect use, even though it’s often difficult to measure. Treated wastewater is returned to rivers and then often withdrawn again and treated further for human consumption.

One might, for instance, assume that a significant part of the water in the River Thames, once it reaches London, is treated wastewater from communities further up the river. Increasing the share of direct use of wastewater should clearly be encouraged – in a form accepted by local communities.

So, all in all there are some significant opportunities to use treated wastewater as a resource, helping to close the gap between freshwater withdrawals and sustainable supply. But these opportunities need to be carefully evaluated, to make sure they are fully accepted, but also cost and energy effective when compared to other solutions. Via Peter Brabeck-Letmathe – Linkedin More

 

Permaculture Design Certification Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

 



Permaculture Design Certification Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

June 21 – July 5, 2014

14-day immersion course at Quail Springs permaculture farm and community nestled in the beautiful high desert spring-fed canyon wilderness of Southern California

  • Increased Food Security
  • Community-Based Development
  • Waste Cycling
  • Sustainability Education
  • Clean Water and Drought Proofing
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Vocations & Enterprise

The course gives participants theory and practice for integrating Permaculture's systems-thinking and design strategies into their work and study, while gaining an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification.


Lead Instructor

Warren Brush of Quail Springs, Casitas Valley Farms, and True Nature Design


Presenters & Guest Instructors

  • Jeanette Acosta – Tribal Indigenous Knowledge, Permaculture Teacher
  • Tara Blasco – Co-founder of Global Resource Alliance
  • Tom Cole – Former Director Save the Children Uganda, Consultant
  • Noah Jackson – Founder of Forest Voices
  • Jay Markert – Founder of Living Mandala
  • Alissa Sears – Leader of Strategic Planning & Global Betterment with Christie Communications
  • Janice Setser – Former Program Manager with Mercy Corps, Consultant
  • Melanie St. James – Co-Founder of Empowerment Works
  • Brenton Kelly, Andrew Clinard & Lindsay Allen – Quail Springs' Farm Management

Topics include: Integrated Design, Composting, Water Harvesting, Compost Toilets, Waste Cycling, Earthworks, Rocket Stoves, Design Priorities, Ecological Building, Aquaculture, Bio-Sand Filtration, Broad Acre Applications, Food Forestry, Bio-Engineering, Resilient Food Production, Greywater Systems, Livestock Integration, Soil building, Watershed Restoration, Integrated Pest Mgmt, Biomimicry, Appropriate Technology, Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, Community Organizing, Drought Proofing Landscapes, Rebuilding Springs, Refugee Camp Strategies


Location & Hosting: The course is hosted at Quail Springs' 450-acre wilderness and working farm site focused on modeling and teaching the concepts and practices of sustainability. We are located 32 miles east of Santa Barbara and are surrounded by Los Padres National Forest. This land is an ideal drylands site for learning about Permaculture.



The Permaculture Design Course for International Development and Social Entrepreneurship is presented


by Quail Springs Permaculture


in association with

Casitas Valley Creamery & Farm

Christie Communications
Empowerment Works

Forest Voices

Global Resource Alliance
Living Mandala

Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya

Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

True Nature Design


Registration

Cost includes instruction, certification, catered meals, and camping accommodations.

Cost: $1,650 (a deposit of $300 reserves your space with the full balance due by June 10)

Special Promo: First 5 people to register in response to this announcement receive $300 off the course!

Discounts

PDC Refresher – $200 discount for participants with a previous 72-hr PDC
Register with a friend or family member for $150 off each, or with 2 friends or family members for $200 off each.

Check or Money Order – $25 discount, payment by check or money order


Please contact us at info@quailsprings.org for more info or to register

www.quailsprings.org/permaculture-design-course-for-international-development-social-entrepreneurship


INSTRUCTORS AND PRESENTERS

Warren Brush



Warren Brush

True Nature Design, Founder / Owner

Quail Springs Permaculture, Co-founder

Warren Brush is a certified Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. He has worked for over 25 years in inspiring people of all ages to discover, nurture and express their inherent gifts while living in a sustainable manner. Warren is co-founder of Quail Springs Permaculture, Casitas Valley Farm, and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works extensively in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia. He has devoted many years to mentoring youth and adults to inspire and equip them to live in a sustainable manner with integrity and a hopeful outlook. His mentoring includes working with those who are former child soldiers, orphans, indigenous peoples, youth, young adults and families.


Project Highlight: Casitas Valley Creamery & Farm, a Regenerative Earth enterprise, is a multi family and friend endeavor where we are demonstrating how we can create an investment vehicle that integrates permaculture design for ecological equitability and stability, community food resilience and economic viability. This 49 acre property located outside of Carpinteria, California is growing its multi enterprises to support a local culture that truly honors that which sustains us and is wrapped in our family hearth.

Jeanette Acosta



Jeanette Acosta

Tribal Indigenous Knowledge, Permaculture Teacher

Jeanette's ancestors were Native Americans. She serves indigenous people with her participation in numerous committees and groups, including a growing emphasis on building collaboration among Native American nations to protect sacred burial and ceremonial sites. Jeanette is a certified teacher and designer for permaculture and specializes in maritime culture, herbalism, ethnobotany and biodynamic principles. In her work, she emphasizes humankind's symbiotic relationship between earth and sky. Moreover, she is a spiritual counselor, couples' counselor, integrative medicine health care provider as well as a certified level 1 and level 2 Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and teacher trainer. Her experience dealing with international business people, world diplomats, heads of states, renowned artists/celebrities, and politicians gives her a unique perspective on various cultures and customs.

Janice Setser


Janice Setser

International Development Consultant

Mercy Corps, Former Program Manager Tajikistan

Although Janice has lived, studied, and/or worked for the last 18 years in Bolivia, Ireland, Honduras, Cambodia, and Burma (Myanmar), it is Tajikistan that has held her attention and her passions for the longest period of time. For over nine years, she has managed a variety of development projects on health, nutrition, agriculture, disaster preparedness, economic development, and ecological restoration while working for the organization Mercy Corps.

Janice experienced an unusual sense of belonging, home, and even freedom in the mountainous region of Tajikistan. Through her work she developed a sensitive understanding of the physical, economic, environmental, social, and cultural constraints that locals face. Her dedication to the people in the region led her to venture into private sector development when her programs ended with Mercy Corps.

 

Project Highlight: Working independently for two years, Janice pursued her passion to empower the marginalized through social entrepreneurship and capacity building projects. To this end she cooperated with local beekeepers to develop the market for honey, worked with youth on their professional development, and collaborated with locals to sensitively advance tourism. Janice also personally dedicated herself to raising awareness about the possibilities for ecological restoration in the region.

Melanie St. James



Melanie St. James

Empowerment WORKS, Executive Director / Founder

The Global Summit, Executive Producer & Co-chair

Melanie is a creative social entrepreneur, dedicated to building a thriving world from the ground up. Melanie's global social change journey began in 1994 with a semester abroad to mainland China. After completing an international education in Spain, Italy, Cuba and Africa, with sustainable development field studies in Senegal and Zimbabwe (and being inspired by many creative social entrepreneurs there), Melanie identified Empowerment WORKS' flagship approach to turning local resources into solutions, now called, “7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS)”. In 2001, Melanie formed “Empowerment Works” as a global sustainability think-tank in action continuously working to connect the world's most culturally rich, yet economically challenged communities with the access to markets, tools and partners they need to thrive. In 2007 after participating in the World Social Forum in Kenya, Melanie co-developed and produced The Global Summit (2008- 2020) to unite social, economic and environmental movements for a sustainable future.

Project Highlight: Inspired in Senegal and Zimbabwe in 1999 & 2000, and registered in the USA as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization in 2001, Empowerment WORKS (EW) is a global sustainability think-tank in action dedicated to the advancement of whole-system, locally-led solutions for a thriving world. In the world's most culturally rich, yet economically challenged communities, access to markets, appropriate technologies and education can empower people to transform critical problems into opportunities for lasting social change. Empowerment WORKS brings these vital tools within the grasp of citizens on the front lines of poverty and climate change.

Noah Jackson



Noah Jackson

Forest Voices, Director / Co-founder

Noah Jackson is a conservation consultant and storyteller whose work combines photography, writing, and new media to document conservation and community issues. He has worked in Asia and Africa for over a decade, starting as a Peace Corps volunteer, and continuing through graduate work, a Fulbright fellowship, independent projects, and as an auditor and farmer trainer for the Rainforest Alliance. His storytelling work can be found in publications such as the National Geographic Traveler, the Rainforest Alliance Blog and Canopy newsletter.

Project Highlight: Forest Voices works to preserve the knowledge of forest communities and foster meaningful connections between people of different geographical regions and lifestyles. We employ diverse techniques-writing, video, photography-to nurture dialog within and between communities through storytelling programs, student courses, and direct trade programs. We help consumers of globally traded products such as coffee, tea and cocoa, understand and directly experience how good practices of trade and agroforestry can enhance the lives of farmers and conserve surrounding ecosystems.

Alissa Sears



Alissa Sears

Christie Communications, Strategic Planning / Global Betterment

Christie CommUnity Foundation, Executive Director

Alissa leads Christie Communications' Strategic Planning Division to develop results-oriented, comprehensive strategies across multiple industries for clients ranging from natural product companies to impact investment groups, social entrepreneurs to natural food and beverage products, green building to non-profit organizations and community groups.

She has also helped to create social enterprises and sustainable development programs in communities in Northern Sri Lanka, Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Malawi, Chad, Bolivia, Mexico, in the US, and beyond. Alissa first began working in Northern Sri Lanka helping to develop Sri Lankan-run educational and leadership/sustainable development programs in the war-torn NorthEast. With the programs still running locally, Alissa has continued working to build integrated, scalable, market-based models that integrate the local community with local and international organizations and businesses for the benefit of the communities.

She is a Board Member of Safe Water International, The California Coast Venture Forum/Clean Business Investment Summit, the Weidemann Foundation, HumaniTourism, and an advisor to the 300in6 Initiative, Blue Ocean Sciences, Ocean Lovers Collective, The Chad Relief Foundation, Create Global Healing, the Playful Planet Foundation, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, and others.

Jay Markert



Jay Markert

Living Mandala, Founder


Jay Markert, known as Jay Ma, is a permaculture designer, facilitator, natural builder, and community organizer committed to cultural healing through Peacemaker Principles. Jay is a graduate of the pioneering two-year training intensive in Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness. Jay has facilitated educational programs, retreats, workshops, and events as well as community land development projects with organizations including the Regenerative Design Institute, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Gaia University, Omega Institute, Harmony Festival, and others. Jay is co-founder and director of programs and development of Living Mandala, and works with other regenerative educators and institutions organizing educational courses, workshops, and events for ecological and social regeneration in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He is currently an associate with Gaia University in Organized Learning for Eco-Social Regeneration. Jay is also a certified Permaculture Teacher, a Fire Walk Instructor through Sundoor International, and is passionate about renewing Rites of Passage experiential programs for people of all ages.

Brenton Kelly



Brenton Kelly

Quail Springs Permaculture, Farm Director & Educator

Brenton has over 25 years experience in soil building, gardening, non-toxic land management and animal husbandry. He co-owned Island Seed and Feed in Goleta for 10 years before joining the Quail Springs team, and has taught 1000s of folks about pastured poultry, bees, worms, vegetables, and more!

Lindsay Allen



Lindsay Allen

Quail Springs Permaculture, Farm Management Team

FoodWaterShelter, Permaculture Advisor

Lindsay joined the Quail Springs team this past winter after making the long trek across the country from her Massachusetts home. Before coming to Quail Springs she worked in organic farming and Permaculture in Massachusetts, Illinois, East Africa and Panama. She is currently co-managing the farm, helping to facilitate courses at Quail Springs, and is also the permaculture advisor for the non-profit FoodWaterShelter in Tanzania. These days, Lindsay is enjoying teaching and sharing the wonderful world of permaculture farming with others.


Payment plans are also available. Contact Kolmi Majumdar at info@quailsprings.org for more info.


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Quail Springs Permaculture is nonprofit organization dedicated to demonstrating and teaching holistic ways of designing human environments, restoring and revitalizing the land and community, and facilitating deeper understandings of ourselves and one another through immersive experiences in nature.

Quail Springs Permaculture