Greywater recycling can solve water crisis in Dhaka, Bangladesh

grey water reusePeople in many parts of Dhaka city suffer from water crisis all the year round. With the bulging of the city population, demand for water is growing fast but the supply of water does not increase accordingly.

Due to the scarcity of fresh water, balancing the supply and demand for fresh water has always been a great challenge before DWASA. Recycling and reusing wastewater is considered a strategy of water demand management (WDM) system worldwide. Reuse of wastewater minimises demand for freshwater. Greywater reuse in many parts of the world, including both industrial and developing countries, has gained significance recently.

Many investigations have been conducted on domestic grey-water quality analysis, treatment and reuse in the EU, USA, Middle-east countries, Japan and Australia. Greywater treatment systems have been successfully implemented in the US, Japan and Australia to reclaim grey-water for non-potable uses. With the technological advancement and public acceptance, greywater seems to be a potential source of water saving.

Traditionally, greywater is defined as non-industrial wastewater generated from domestic processes such as dish washing, laundry and bathing. Essentially, any water, other than toilet wastes, draining from a household is grey-water. Grey-water is a major fraction of domestic wastewater which is generally less polluted than other types of wastewater.

Greywater, generated from sinks, baths, showers, or washing machines can be treated for non-potable use such as irrigation, toilet flushing, car washing, dust control, soil compaction, in construction works and in industrial processes like cooling boilers and other appliances.

Due to rapid population growth and unplanned urbanisation, surface water pollution and continuous ground water extraction resources are already being pushed to the limits of sustainability in Dhaka. To deal with this complicated situation, some innovative measures should be taken to minimise the use of potable water. Recycling and reuse of greywater, rainwater harvesting during monsoon are good options for saving fresh drinking water. However, wastewater treatment and reuse is not common in Bangladesh.

Recycling of greywater will protect aquatic ecosystems by decreasing the diversion of freshwater, reducing the quantity of toxic contaminants entering waterways. Highly treated greywater can be reused for aquifer recovery and storage. Besides, groundwater replenishment, treated grey-water can be used in coastal areas where salt water intrudes.

Water shortage in Dhaka will be a key issue for its sustainable development in the future. The potential of potable water savings can be increased by using greywater treatment systems. The Bangladesh government may launch water reuse projects through public utility departments such as the Water Administration and Sewerage Authority (WASA), the city corporations, Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) etc. Private organisations like operational and campaigning NGOs can work similarly. They can deal with water quality and water rights requirements for such projects, and address other important issues such as human health, environmental impacts, economics and project funding. To promote greywater reuse in the country, building codes should be modified, and standards and guidelines should be adopted. The standards should be realistic, enforceable, and sensible to public and environmental health.

Greywater recycling system includes collection, storage, treatment and reuse. There are several barriers which may obstruct the development of greywater recycling and reuse in Dhaka. Limited human and financial resources, reliability of wastewater treatment, system energy demand, economic feasibility of the system, public perception and willingness, social and institutional acceptance, water right issues and political process, sufficient and consistent codes and guidelines etc are some of the barriers. In Bangladesh, guidelines and standards for grey-water reuse does not exist. Regulations and guidelines for greywater reuse mainly focus on the healthy and environmental impacts and are often established by local authorities.

From aesthetic point of view, public acceptance for reusing recycled water can be a big challenge.

Source: The Financial Express (By Shahana Bilkis)

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