It’s time to put nature at the heart of wastewater solutions

Aug 12 2021


Nature often acts as a as a conduit for untreated sewage into water bodies, wetlands, or the sea. However, a planned approach using nature-based solutions (NBS) not only improves sanitation services, but also provide numerous co-benefits for both people and the environment.

In fact, NBS have been supporting wastewater treatment throughout history; ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures were known to use wetlands for wastewater disposal. Over time, technologies were developed to treat the high pollution loads without destroying aquatic ecosystems.

In recent years, NBS have been hailed as an innovative solution to manage water-related risks including wastewater treatment, with growing investment from both public and private sectors. Some are old approaches such as soil infiltration and treatment wetlands which have been around for more than 100 years; others are more recent developments, such as floating wetlands and willow systems.

The benefits of using NBS in wastewater treatment extend beyond improving water quality, but can also provide habitat for flora and fauna, regulate temperature during hot weather conditions, mitigate floods and storm peaks, produce biomass and biosolids, sequester carbon and enable water reuse. NBS can provide space for recreation, improve aesthetic appeal and restore landscapes, drawing people together and strengthening community ties.

New NBS publication

The recently released IWA and TNC publication “Nature-Based Solutions for Wastewater Treatment” is a starting point to identify and compare NBS options that can be incorporated into domestic and municipal wastewater treatment processes, with an emphasis on the potential co-benefits.
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Source: International Water Association