April 2017

28 APAC / April 2017 , centrate (fuel & municipal), other ore from beneficiation circuits (including precious metals) and foodstuff from wastewater (starch, poultry & meat). The choice of whether to use Baleen is a matter of simple economics – separated ‘waste’ has energy value while filtered ‘water’ (containing free fertiliser in the form of nitrates and phosphates) has re-use value. These deliverables highlight immediate opportunity for a green future in wastewater infrastructure with scale-able circular economies. Yuri Obst, Founder and CEO of Baleen, explains: “Visualise a future in which the Earth’s natural cycles and urban economies co-exist. Marine outfalls transformed into Sewer Mining facilities with micro-plastics and other non-biodegradables (recyclables) recovered separate from energy-rich organic ‘waste’ (as carbon-negative feedstock) and nutrient-laden ‘water’ reclaimed for irrigation.” Yuri Obst is an internationally acclaimed chemical engineer and environmental scientist who invented the unique self- cleaning filter/separator (known as Baleen) during his doctorate study whilst employed by the University of South Australia. Baleen already plays a critical role in advancing re-use opportunities as an alternative approach or as a cost-saving adjunct to higher purity water. In comparison to Membrane Bioreactors (or MBR), Baleen requires just one-third of the footprint and operates at less than 5% of the cost while still complying with the most stringent of water requirements (such as California Title 22 for re-use). Toxic Sewage is turned into at least B-grade water after passing through the Baleen (& Disinfection) system. Tim Scholz, Mayor of Wudinna District Council, South Australia, May 2009 Ending Marine Pollution: A “Solution” to Climate Change Today, 90% of all polluted waters find its way into rivers, lakes, and coastal zones, threatening health, food security, and access to safe water (UN WWAP 2013). This has resulted in more than 500 dead zones around the world, affecting 250,000km2, with the number doubling every ten years since the 1960s (UN 2013). The UN estimates the amount of wastewater produced annually is about 1,500 trillion litres affecting soils, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas (UN WWAP 2003). Age-ing infrastructure alone responsible for some 3,500 billion litres of untreated sewage flowing into oceans annually (Surfrider Foundation 2015). Knowing water pollution causes millions of deaths annually (WHO UNICEF) and just one litre of wastewater can kill flora/fauna in as little as 100 litres of marine eco-system should be enough for humanity to change its ways - but more than a century of tradition states otherwise. Inextricably humanity’s fate is tied to the ocean’s fate, with a healthy ocean absorbing as much as 1/3rd of all carbon emissions - but this carbon sink is weakening as a direct consequence of pollution (WMO GAW 2014). “A ‘once-use and dispose’ mindset is simply not sustainable. Humanity is draining the land and treating waterways as waste dumps with widespread devastation. We must Close-the- Loop on the shoddy, inefficient, and expensive way we treat water and return the natural water cycle to the land.” exclaims Yuri. More than 15 billion tons of polluted water (containing useful nutrient) flow through underground networks into the Ocean along the Continental US Coastline every year. The Maritime Executive 2016 Over 30,000 sewer overflows discharge untreated sewage into UK rivers and beaches, many are unregulated and over used. Surfers Against Sewage 2016 Given the Ocean is responsible for keeping our planet cool we need to do all that is possible to preserve it - ending marine pollution is not just the right thing to do, it is critical to our continued survival. Wastewater is a water-carried ‘waste’ typically containing 99.9 to 99.99% water, so it comes as no surprise that more and more farmers across the globe are turning to reclaimed wastewater as an alternative source for crop irrigation. If universally managed such an approach would stop marine pollution and benefit natural water cycles indefinitely. Notably, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published practical guidelines for ‘sustainable’ irrigation (for developing nations) with anticipated review (for developed nations) to include oxidation of trace chemicals to prevent transfer into the food chain. “... it is a great use of the waste and the nutrients it contains. The best answer is not to ban the practice, but to improve it.” Colin Chartres (IWMI) in interview with New Scientist reporter Fred Pearce August 2008. There is much to gain when recognising ‘WasteWater’ as a commodity. From a resource standpoint, ‘Waste’ (less than 0.1% content) is largely organic and rich in energy while nutrients (less than 0.01% content) found soluble in ‘Water’ are ideal for land application. The ‘Waste’ being carbon neutral offers a renewable source of electricity and an effective means for reducing greenhouse emissions. Reclamation of ‘wastewater’ for irrigation rather than disposal as marine-pollution revitalises a plethora of ecosystems providing the most influential means to cooling the planet, the Earth’s flora, returning natural water cycles in symbiotic relationship with the Ocean. Humanity has drained the land of water for far too long, it is now essential for Humanity to return water to the land to quench essential ecosystems. Infrastructure change through mining ‘wastewater’ instead of disposal would reduce all related emissions to near zero, and at the same time contribute significant quantities of oxygen to the atmosphere through a return of natural ecological processes.

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