This year is the 29th anniversary of World Water Day, commemorated every March 22nd. Initially, this determination initiative was carried out in 1992 by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The World Water day brings focus on the issue faced by 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. At this year's World Water Day, the main highlight is on groundwater with the theme "Make the Invisible Visible". This theme was raised to highlight the vital role of groundwater in facilitating various activities and as a defense against climate change. However, over time, our environment faces groundwater depletion, which is a decrease in the groundwater level caused by continuous pumping without any renewal efforts.
Before discussing groundwater specifically, we should know the difference between the two types of water reserves. The first water reserve is surface water which is all water found on the ground (e.g., river water, reservoir water, lake water, and pond water). While groundwater is water contained in the soil below the ground surface. This water source becomes the only reserve in case of scarcity of surface water due to drought. Groundwater can be found almost everywhere. The rise and fall of groundwater levels can be caused by natural factors (e.g., heavy rains, melting snow, and drought) and human factors (e.g., water exploitation and over-pumping). One of the negative impact of groundwater depletion is seawater intrusion. The low level of groundwater in the aquifer causes seawater to be attracted to the freshwater aquifer zone. In the long term, groundwater quality will be contaminated and reduce the storage capacity of fresh water in the aquifer. This condition is risky and needs attention from all parties to jointly overcome the water problem on our earth.
UN Agencies raised this issue on World Water Day 2022 to increase public awareness regarding the importance to overcome groundwater depletion. This problem is not happening in several countries with extremely high baseline water stress, such as Qatar, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan, but the government, through the United Nations, urges all citizens in the world to contribute to the protection of water reserves. This appeal is also intended for the general public and for various big businesses that contribute to the use of water in various industrial activities.
One of the methods targeted by the government is the 6th Sustainable Development Goals: Clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. Water scarcity and lack of wastewater management hinder economic and social development for the general public. The world economic forum even places the water crisis in the top three global risks. The government estimates that by 2030 there will be at least 40% of the shortfall in freshwater resources due to an increase in the world population (1.0% yearly growth rate). So our action will significantly determine the availability of water reserves in the future. In response to this year's World Water Day slogan, some simple steps can help us spot visible source of water by recycling our greywater.
What is Greywater
So the next question will be, what is greywater? What is the difference with other water? Basically, greywater is water that comes from household waste. The primary source of greywater comes from the sink, sink, floor drain, and bathroom drains. The water waste in washing foods such as rice, fruit, and vegetables usually still contains nutritious substances, such as carbohydrates, protein gluten, and cellulose that can be used to water plants. Organic substances in wastewater can nourish plants, stimulate growth, and strengthen plant roots.
Apart from food washing, sink water waste contains fat and dirt, which can form a scale that clogs the drain in the long run. Similarly, the bathroom disposal has alkaline, which easily contaminates water. This substances are relatively difficult to decompose, such as Alkyl Benzene Sulfonates (ABS), which are usually found in anti-stain soap. At first glance, we see wastewater as just a waste, but here is how we can make it more visible with the water recycling process.
Simply, water recycling is the use of water waste that can be useful in other activities. This process is also known as water reclamation or water reuse. The recycling process aims to improve water quality, reduce disposal costs, save energy, and extend groundwater supply. The main idea is how we can minimize groundwater use by utilizing alternative water resources. Before being used, this wastewater will be treated first to achieve a certain quality so that it does not contain hazardous substances. This treatment process also indirectly reduces water pollution in rivers and oceans as the last location for water disposal.
Treated greywater can be an alternative to potable and non-potable water sources. Some examples of recyclable water use include irrigation & agriculture, toilet flushing, power generation, mixing concrete in the construction process, fountains and various other benefits. As a water stress country, Israel has started to implement this method by reusing nearly 90% of water waste, making Israel a World Leader in Wastewater Recycling.
The use of greywater also has a positive economic impact. By reusing treated greywater from a flush toilet source, one family can save at least 50L of water every day for the household (Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2013). However, various debates have arisen against this action due to the costs involved in installing an extensive greywater recycling system. It should be noted that costly installation does not rule out the possibility of showing our contribution to greywater recycling. In fact, there are many simple things in daily activities that can significantly impact water use.
Simple Daily Tips to Recycling Greywater
1. Using laundry water to clean the furniture
The water used for washing clothes indirectly contains detergents and cleaning agents that can be reused before being thrown away. This laundry water waste is very appropriate for use in cleaning household furniture. You can collect the washing water and put it into a spray bottle or in a bucket for mopping. In addition to detergent, laundry water sometimes contains fragrance substances, making it into 2 in 1 action in cleaning various household furniture.
2. Using pasta water for cooking
When some people drain pasta and let the boiled water go
to waste, we can actually make the use of pasta water more useful. In the process of boiling pasta, a few tablespoons of added salt cn release the starch from spaghetti which is rich in carbohydrates, to make a variety of healthy dishes, one of which is to cook beans more quickly. The salted pasta water gives additional taste to the beans and speeds up the ripening process, and softens its shells.
3. Reuse the water left in the bottle
Sometimes we often carry water in reusable bottles that end up leftover. Those residual water can be contaminated (especially if it is made from plastic-based and exposed to sunlight). Therefore, instead of throwing the water, you can collect the water and reuse it for washing dishes or other household utensils. Thus, you save water bills and save more money.
Those are some simple tips you can do to recycle your greywater. In commemorating World Water Day, let's raise awareness of water use and start implementing wise groundwater consumption by recycling water. Because with water recycling, we can make the invisible water sources visible.