The prevailing view of sewage is as a waste product; a problem to be dealt with and overcome. This way of thinking results from our belief that we are separate from nature.
We are natural organisms, and nature creates no waste. The cast-offs of one organism is food for another; like the air relationship we have with plants. So our sewage isn’t a waste product, and our challenge is to find the appropriate place for this resource.
For millions of years natural ecosystems have transformed what animals cast off into clean water and amazing plant growth. Only in the last hundred years have we been collecting this resource and wasting it.
Sewage treatment plants produce effluents that historically were treated and released into the environment without consideration of the environment or benefits of reuse. Sewage treatment was quick and easy. But the quicker and easier methods don’t take care of the job at hand. A recent report from Environment Canada noted that the top 15 water polluters in Canada are all municipal sewage treatment plants.
New federal regulation require us to review our sewage treatment infrastructure; to reduce the pollution we are disposing of into the environment. And there is increasing social pressure to take greater responsibility for our waste as well.
But rather than seeing this as an additional obligation and cost we can change how we look at water and see it as an opportunity for change; change how we use water, move away from seeing our natural environment as a dumping ground, and see sewage as a resource.
Today technologies and processes can treat sewage so effectively that the treated water can be reused for a variety of different applications. The cost of reclaiming water isn’t significantly more than standard sewage treatment. But while reclamation has significant benefits, it has until recently suffered from the cost of associated infrastructure.
Most reclamation facilities must be built outside of town because they are ugly and smelly. Sewage had to be pumped out of town and then back into town for reuse. The associated infrastructure proved to be too much for most projects. But not all reclamation technology is created equal. An EWR facility need not be built out of town. It creates no odours and is beautiful. Being aesthetically appealing, it can be placed in the heart of your community and contribute to a more livable neighbourhood or anywhere your high-demand water users are located.