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India Among 5 Countries Cultivating Raw Wastewater For Irrigation

According to study, farmers' use of wastewater is most prevalent in regions where there are significant wastewater generation and water pollution

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Influent raw wastewater in glass jar. Wikimedia
  • The global use of untreated wastewater from cities to irrigate crops downstream is 50 per cent more widespread than previously thought
  • The study relies on advanced modelling methods to provide a comprehensive estimate of the global extent to which farmers use urban wastewater on irrigated cropland
  • Results showed that 65 percent of all irrigated areas are within 40 km downstream of urban centres and are affected by wastewater flows to a large degree

Colombo, July 06, 2017: India and four other countries – China, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran — account for the most cropland in the world irrigated by dirty wastewater, putting millions of lives at serious health risks, new research have found.

The global use of untreated wastewater from cities to irrigate crops downstream is 50 per cent more widespread than previously thought, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The study relies on advanced modelling methods to provide a comprehensive estimate of the global extent to which farmers use urban wastewater on irrigated cropland.

Also Read: Exclusive: Angry Farmers and Distressed Leaders

Researchers analysed data with geographic information systems (GIS).

According to the study, farmers’ use of wastewater is most prevalent in regions where there are significant wastewater generation and water pollution.

In these circumstances, and where safer water is in short supply, wastewater offers a consistent and reliable means of irrigating fields, including high-value crops, such as vegetables, which often require more water than staple foods.

Where raw wastewater is available, farmers may tend to prefer it because of its high concentrations of nutrients, which can lessen the need to apply purchased fertilisers.

In most cases, however, farmers’ use of this water is motivated by basic needs. They simply do not have alternatives, the study showed.

“The de facto reuse of urban wastewater is understandable, given the combination of increasing water pollution and declining freshwater availability, as seen in many developing countries,” said the lead author of the study Anne Thebo from the University of California, Berkeley in the US.

“As long as investment in wastewater treatment lags far behind population growth, large numbers of consumers eating raw produce will face heightened threats to food safety,” Thebo said.

Results showed that 65 percent of all irrigated areas are within 40 km downstream of urban centres and are affected by wastewater flows to a large degree.

Of the total area of 35.9 million hectares, 29.3 million hectares are in countries with very limited wastewater treatment, exposing 885 million urban consumers as well as farmers and food vendors to serious health risks.

Five countries — China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran — account for most of this cropland, the findings showed.

These new findings supersede a widely cited 2004 estimate, based on case studies in some 70 countries and expert opinion, which had put the cropland area irrigated with wastewater at a maximum of 20 million hectares.

“Gaining a better grasp of where, why and to what extent farmers use wastewater for irrigation is an important step toward addressing the problem,” said second author Pay Drechsel of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Battaramulla, Sri Lanka.

“We hope this new study will focus the attention of policymakers and sanitation experts on the need to fulfill Sustainable Development Goal 6, particularly target 3, which calls for halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe water reuse,” Drechsel added. (IANS)

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Swiss Researchers’ Envirobot Slithers through Waterways to Detect Pollution and Toxins

Envirobot appears as a water snake but is actually a collection of little segments, all doing different jobs

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Envirobot
Envirobot helps in detecting water pollution. Pixabay
  • Envirobot, the latest biomimetic fabrication by Swiss researchers, appears as a water snake
  • Its job when fully developed will be to guard water bodies looking for pollution and toxins
  • Envirobot is better than conventional propeller-driven underwater robots as it is less likely to get in branches and algae when they move around

Switzerland, August 6, 2017: As per the Pacific Institute, more than 2 million tons of a wide range of waste is pumped into the world’s waters each day. Researchers have become great at recognizing it, however not very great at finding the source of pollution. However, Envirobot, the latest biomimetic fabrication by Swiss researchers, provides a solution.

It appears as a water snake but is actually a collection of little segments, all doing different jobs. They are taking it on a test drive around bodies of water in search of toxins and other substances which can harm aquatic animals in order to take control of water pollution.

ALSO READ: Human hair holds the key to solving water pollution

 The segments of Envirobot are identical so that the joint can oscillate in water. The head coordinates the motion of different segments in order to create a serpentine pattern which propels the whole robot. Its job when fully developed will be to guard water bodies on its own looking for pollution and toxins.
It can also send data to computers in real time as it swims. Its tiny chambers get filled with water as the robot swims through water. Envirobot is more efficient and accurate as it can collect water from multiple spots in a lake or river. It will be used as a measure to detect metals as they can harm people and aquatic life.

Instead of having a measurement station somewhere or going out to take a sample and bringing it back to the lab, the robot will actually slither in water bodies and measure a number of water quality parameters in real time. Envirobot is better than conventional propeller-driven underwater robots as it is less likely to get in branches and algae when they move around.

Each segment of the Envirobot is unique so as to enable it to perform all kinds of water tests at the same time. For instance one segment measures very general quality parameters like temperature, conductivity, pH, oxygen level, so as to say whether water quality is good or not. Other segments carry bacteria, fish cells and even tiny water fleas that can react to toxins and insecticides in the water body.

The researchers’ ultimate goal is to create a full-time autonomous pollution sniffing robot and prevention of water pollution. What they are yet to achieve is to enable the Envirobot to by itself locate the source of the pollution. This will help to measure and decide where to go next which is a very challenging project. Given the amount of waste that is being dumped or pumped into the world’s waterways, it is a very worthy goal.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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The Popular Recycled Wastewater Treatment Plants Get a Go Signal in India

From toilet to tap, the future of drinking water is here. After Singapore and Orange County USA, India to adopt recycled wastewater treatment system

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Waste water treatment
Wastewater Treatment Plant. Pixabay
  • Delhi to get India’s first ever recycle wastewater treatment plant, after it became significantly popular in Singapore and Orange County
  • Sujala Dhara plant set up by Absolute Water, in collaboration with Delhi Jal Board and SANA
  • Non-potable use of the treatable water to be promoted extensively by Delhi Government

New Delhi, August 3, 2017: The capital has been suffering a water crisis for a while now, it was only a while back that a report warned the residents that 70 percent of the water in the capital was polluted and unfit to drink. After the spike in the industrial pollutants in the Yamuna river forced the Delhi Jal Board to take action by cutting 50 percent of water supply from two major water plants in Delhi.

After the reports were verified, it was evident that most of the water that the locals were consuming was diluted wastewater. There have been many short term preventive measures already been taken but in the long run, people are still unwilling to consume the recycled wastewater, even though half of the consumption currently is polluted by industrial and chemical waste.

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The founder of Third World Center for Water Management said in an interview that, in Singapore, over 50 lakh residents have accepted it as a solution. Dependent on Malaysia for up to 50 percent of its water, Singapore decided that it was better to be self-reliant. With this ‘NEWater treatment plants’, it has not only managed that but also become a hub for advanced water research. A similar effort is also being done on an extensive scale in Orange County Water District in the US.

Delhi Jal Board approves a recyclable water treatment plant for potable and non-potable use Click To Tweet

Rahul Jha of Absolute Water, the water wing of Chemical System Technologies says that “Astronauts do it abroad stations”, Absolute Water develops technology which renders wastewater into potable water. In collaboration with Delhi Jal Board and Social Awareness, Newer Alternatives (SANA) they have established a plant called Sujala Dhara, at the Keshopur Sewage Treatment Plant in July 2015. At a cost of Rs 55 lakh, this plant can produce over 4000 liters of clean water every hour. The plant will be monitored by Delhi Jal Board, while agencies like Central Pollution Control Board have already given it a go.

The wastewater purification process not only reduces the waste discharged into the river bodies but also amounts to 15 percent of raw water remaining after purification, which is rich in nutrients like potassium and nitrogen and can be used as a liquid fertilizer. Even though the people are not yet accepting of this method of purification in India, and the practice won’t be as widely popular as it is in Singapore but the recycled water can be used for domestic needs.

Recycled Wastewater
Future Drinking Water

Work is initiated to supply the plant water to Keshopur Bus Depot for washing vehicles. The water will also be provided to the residence of Delhi Jal Board officials who live close to it, and where work on the dual piping system is proposed. So, two completely separate systems will be used to supply potable and recycled water to the users.

Also Read: These 7 Ayurvedic Herbal Water have Healing Powers

While there isn’t much heat on the aggressive consumption of recycled wastewater for drinking, but the Delhi’s Master Plan 2021 is already underway to promote extensive use of treated water for non-potable purposes.

Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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‘Climate Smart Village’ Initiative: Madhya Pradesh is all set to make its Villages smarter!

 The project will incur a cost of Rs. 150 crore every year and will include 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state

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Madhya Pradesh's initiative of smarter villages
Agricultural farms in India (Representational Image), pixabay

Bhopal, December 30, 2016: Madhya Pradesh is all set to make its villages smarter. This has prompted them to set an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate smart villages’ with an aim to prepare the farmers combat the climate change risks and ensure better productivity.

“The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” said Dr. Rajesh Rajora, who is state Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary, mentioned PTI report.

The project will incur a cost of Rs. 150 crore every year and will include 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state, said Dr. Rajora. He also said that “ The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.”

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In addition to using drought-resistance seeds, the farmers will also be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops.

“The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said. It conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion.

He mentioned that integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimization of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.

Rajora said, “In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,”.

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The technique of growing crops, time and again, without disturbing the soil through ploughing is known as zero tillage method, another agricultural expert said. He said “The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilizers and energy.”

International Crop Research Institute for Semi  Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will help the state government in this initiative, said Rajora. Along with this an international NGO working in the field of agriculture and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership will also take an active part in this program.

While mentioning the partner organization Rajora said “ The Centre has set ICISAT, the UN organization, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” mentioned PTI.

According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.

Block level soil testing laboratory will soon be opened as said by the state government. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmer’s income in five years. ‘Krishi Cabinet’ has been constituted to ensure sustainable agricultural growth. The cabinet comprises of ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.

MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively. Government has also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon