Safe use of wastewater in agriculture offers multiple benefits

Recycling urban wastewater and using it to grow food crops can help mitigate water scarcity problems and reduce water pollution, but the practice is not being as widely implemented as it should, according to a new UN food and agriculture organization (FAO) report [1]. The FAO has called for governments to increase the amount of treated wastewater being used for irrigation purposes as this will reduce costs for farmers and cities and improved water quality.

FAO report coverThe FAO report used case studies from Spain and Mexico to test methodologies for cost-benefit and cost-effective analyses of wastewater reuse projects. The Mexico case studies were drawn from three regions:

  • Mexico City & Tula Valley
  • Guanajuato City & La Purísima irrigation module
  • Durango City & Guadalupe Victoria irrigation module

“The case studies in this report show that safely harnessing wastewater for food production can offer a way to mitigate competition between cities and agriculture for water in regions of growing water scarcity,” said Pasquale Steduto, Deputy Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division. “In the right settings, it can also help to deal with urban wastewater effluent and downstream pollution.”

[1] Winpenny, J. … [et al.] (2010). The wealth of waste : the economics of wastewater use in agriculture. (FAO water reports ; 35). Rome, Italy, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). xv, 129 p. Download full report

See also: Mexico: farmers fear loss of “free fertilizer” when wastewater treatment plant is built, Sanitation Updates, 02 Aug 2010

Source: FAO, 06 Sep 2010

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