Wastewater Use In Agriculture: Its Impacts And Methodological Issues In Valuing Impacts

802 words - 4 pages

Wastewater Use in Agriculture: its Impacts and
Methodological Issues in Valuing Impacts

With increasing global population, the gap between the supply and demand for water is widening and is reaching such alarming levels that in some parts of the world it is posing a threat to human existence. Scientists around the globe are working on new ways of conserving water. It is an opportune time, to refocus on one of the ways to recycle water—through the reuse of urban wastewater, for irrigation and other purposes. This could release clean water for use in other sectors that need fresh water and provide water to sectors that can utilize wastewater e.g., for irrigation and other ...view middle of the document...

Other important uses of wastewater include, recharge of groundwater, landscaping (golf courses, freeways, playgrounds, schoolyards, and parks), industry, construction, dust control, wildlife habitat improvement and aquaculture. In developing countries, though standards are set, these are not always strictly adhered to. Wastewater, in its untreated form, is widely used for agriculture and aquaculture and has been the practice for centuries in countries such as China, India and Mexico. Thus, wastewater can be considered as both a resource and a problem. Wastewater and its nutrient content can be used extensively for irrigation and other ecosystem services. Its reuse can deliver positive benefits to the farming community, society and municipalities. However, wastewater reuse also exerts negative externality effects on humans and ecological systems, which need to be identified and assessed. Before one can endorse wastewater irrigation as a mean of increasing water supply for agriculture, a thorough analysis must be undertaken from an economic perspective as well. In this regard the comprehensive costs and benefits of such wastewater reuse should be evaluated. Conventional cost benefit analysis quite often fails to quantify and monetize externalities associated with wastewater reuse. Hence, environmental valuation techniques and other related tools should be employed to guide decision-making. Moreover, the economic effects of wastewater irrigation need to be evaluated not only from the social, economic, and ecological standpoint, but also from the sustainable development perspective. Pakistan is a case which illustrates this problem. Both treated and untreated municipal wastewater in the vicinity of large cities like Faisalabad is used for...

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