"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Monday, July 30, 2007


“Water, The Source”

The most important and essential element of the ecosystem and of life is water. The incessant decrease is water quality is due to the constant addition of undesired compounds, which is mainly due to several water contamination sources. Industrial, domestic, agricultural activities and global changes are undoubtedly responsible for this decline, as a result groundwater as well as surface water is no longer suitable for drinking because of the increasing presence of toxic compounds. Therefore, the demand for new and effective water treatment and recycling technologies is greater than ever.

The need for efficient and rapid wastewater treatment has become on going concern for the past few decades since drinking water is progressively becoming more and more scarce. Many developments, in this regard, have one focus: water treatment. In the current wastewater treatment industry, unit operations such as primary, secondary and tertiary treatment are combined in order to obtain potable water. The primary treatment consists of a physical purification process with the use of grit chamber, which essentially separates solid from liquid matter. The secondary treatment involves the chemical and biological processing of wastewater, thus chemically eliminating harmful pathogens. Finally, the tertiary treatment is where wastewater is converted in drinking water.

Assortments of wastewater treatment technologies have been proposed such as reverse osmosis, micro and ultra filtration and electrolysis technologies. Disregarding the implementation of these new technologies will have dire consequences, which will not only affect countries that have great water resources, but more so, the populations deprived of potable water as well as the micro organisms from the water sources. However, the major challenge that the wastewater industry faces is the economical feasibility of adopting new technology. Many governments across the nation have considered privatizing this resource with the expectation of providing the financing for this section. Never the less, privatization will have negative effects on countries with the inability to purchase water or put the new technology into operation.

On the other hand, electrolysis is a water-recycling technique that is in early stages of development, which is deemed promising in the near future. Water electrolysis is a chemical technology, which consists of permitting water-soluble ions to pass through selective ionic membranes under electrical current. This will enable the dissolution and effective removal of pollutants. Incorporation of this technique in already existing wastewater plants will not only be beneficial in improving water quality , but is also fast, cost effective and easy to maintain.

With potable water becoming more and more limited, not only do the governments and industrial corporations accept responsibility of this truth but also the consumers and end-users of this resource. If people refuse to adjust and constantly want uninterrupted showers, consequences such as privatization of water is foreseeable.

Therefore, in order to adequately integrate the new technologies, and if considered, water privatization, the following guidelines must be followed: significant reduction in the amounts of water consumed by the end-user as well as industries (by charging for excess use), governments conduct transparent regulatory frameworks and private enterprises should adopt policies to better help the water-deprived population.

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