CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS – A full and sustainable solution for pollution and water shortage

Israel is facing severe water problems:

1. Shortage of water

2. Irrigation with low quality purified wastewater that destroys the land and reduces production

3. Danger of pollution of drinking water sources

4. Wastewater treated to varying degrees runs into the rivers and destroys their natural balance and life

 

Most solutions offered either do not solve all problems, or do so insufficiently and at too high a price.

Desalination is currently considered a suitable solution. However both installation and maintenance of this technology are expensive and do not solve the primary problem of pollution caused by wastewater.

The end product of desalination still contains high levels of Boron. This tiny element requires special, expensive membranes to filter it and even then, the outcome is hazardous to land fertility. Recent findings have shown severe problems that originate from Boron surpluses. Boron, once attached to the soil, can sterilize it for many years and increase desert areas. In arid and semi-arid zones where rain is scarce it is not likely to be washed away.  Although the hazardous outcomes of surplus Boron are well known, there are other dangers that have only recently been discovered.

 

Conventional wastewater treatment technologies offer partial solutions to both water shortage and pollution. They take the wastewater and purify it to some extent to enable it to be used in agriculture.

A few questions need to be asked about the performance of these technologies:

1.       Is their very existence an environmental nuisance?  Are people intrinsically opposed to living in the proximity of wastewater treatment plants?

2.       Do conventional technologies make use of all wastewater or is the residue sometimes more problematic then the original product?  This residue might include sludge, chemically contaminated sludge, rejected water, salinated water.

 

3.       Is the final product really friendly to the environment?  Does it contain excessive levels of saline - often a direct and unwanted outcome of technologies commonly used to treat the water? Does it contain chemicals, hormones, heavy metals, or pathogens? Is this water safe for the land for generations to come?  Can it maintain the delicate ecosystem of our rivers?

 

4.       Does it have any extra benefits to the community - green areas, leisure areas, wild life reserves?

 

5.       Have both long and short-term expenses been taken into consideration when doing a cost benefit analysis of systems? Beyond building costs, the maintenance and longevity of systems must be compared.  Too often when comparing alternatives only the installation stage is considered, while the big difference lies in maintenance. The yearly maintenance cost of activated sludge plants is extremely high, while the yearly cost of a Constructed Wetland is negligible. In activated sludge plants, most equipment needs to be totally renewed after 15 years. Constructed Wetlands improve with time and The differences are even greater with more advanced systems that incorporate membrane technology.

 

Unfortunately, even though greater efforts have been made toward a global approach, the answers to many of these questions have not proven satisfactory.

CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS are designed to give a renewed answer to all these questions.  By combining constructed wetlands with existent technologies as outlined above, optimum goals can be set and met.

In order to keep our planet in a reasonable state we have to use what we produce. In the past farmers used human and animal waste for agricultural use, no residue was left. In modern life we aspire to do the same, but it takes more effort.

Constructed Wetlands enhance natural processes, and combined with today's know how in engineering, chemistry and biology, are a powerful system for wastewater treatment.

• Constructed Wetlands are able to cope with a large variety of pollutants including heavy metals, salts, Boron, Hydrocarbons, Pathogenic microorganisms, and of course BOD, COD, TSS and other standard parameters for measuring wastewater quality. The water in constructed wetlands can support life in reservoirs, rivers, or on land

• Constructed Wetlands can be used in cases of special wastewater which conventional systems may have difficulty coping with.  This includes industrial effluents with heavy metals, dairy farms, and gas stations.

 

• Properly designed Constructed Wetlands are a highly stable system that endure fluctuations and unforeseen events without collapsing, ensuring the safety of end users.

• The system can treat sludge as well, with a dual outcome of both Class A compost as well as good quality water.

• When properly designed, the system carries no environmental nuisances such as odors or mosquitoes. The constructed wetland is a beautiful green area appealing to birds and other wildlife that people come to enjoy. The system can be incorporated into existent parks and bird and wildlife sanctuaries.

• Constructed Wetlands can be creatively integrated into urban areas to improve quality of life for neighborhood residents.

• Constructed Wetlands are the ideal system for remote places where connection to a central wastewater plant is not possible, and a maintenance-free system is a must. 

• The building costs of Constructed Wetlands are slightly cheaper than most other systems and require almost no maintenance.  Ideally, constructed wetlands require no energy and there is no addition of chemicals.

 

 

In the long run Constructed Wetlands are both the most cost effective and efficient system available to treat the global water crisis. Constructed Wetlands that are properly designed get better with the years and will serve for much longer then any other system.  A Constructed Wetland is a self-sustaining system that offers a solution with an added value to the environment.  A system we can live with, and live by.