Excreta Matters: Paradigm Shift in Waste-Water Management

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 313 (Hynes Convention Center)
Bharat Lal , Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India
Urban India is suffering from the flush and forget syndrome; they discharge waste into the nearby lake or river and believe the problem has gone away. The upstream city does the same. And as everyone competes to draw water from the river, the trickle can no longer dilute the waste. As settlements grow, the discharge increases, and pollution overwhelms the water body. This is hydrocide; India’s Rivers are turning into sewage canals. Dead, just not officially cremated. 

With dirty water, the cost of treatment has increased. Municipality officials struggle to dose it with chlorine and other disinfectants. But another cost of pollution is never factored in. Cities spend huge sums seeking to tap cleaner sources, further and further away.

Excreta matters, and there is a need to make wastewater treatment a public spending priority. But infrastructure alone is not the answer. We need to re-engineer our solutions for them to be affordable for all.