Farmers are fighting global drought. The crop is being grown on sewage from the toilets
From 2014, approximately 28% of the water used for irrigation in Cyprus comes from local wastewater treatment plants.
It's been nearly several decades since we've been hearing more and more of the talk about the ever-growing global drought. However, the drought is becoming not only local, but especially global. It threatens the area which we really depend on - our agriculture.
Many regions of the world are affected
Today we know that the most drought-prone areas are in the Central America, Southern Spain, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean islands. In Asia, it is mainly Indonesia and the Middle East with North Africa. In Australia, most people suffer from drought.
From an economic point of view, the most fertile areas that produce agricultural crops for export are affected.
This are areas that are currently most affected by drought. Source: drmartinwilliams.com
And such are the forecasts for areas affected by increasing global drought by 2039:
Will the sewage from the toilets save us?
The European Union countries are gradually making use of the potential of recycled sewage in their irrigation systems. They work with an alternative source that is more than affordable but still not the cheapest.
According to the Institute of the Circular Economy, "the re-use of wastewater was already identified by the EU as a viable alternative source of water in areas with limited water resources".
As an example of the efficient use of waste water in agriculture, we can mention the Canary Islands. Since 2014, they have irrigated 5000 hectares of tomatoes and 2,500 hectares of banana plantations with recycled wastewater.
In Cyprus, the situation is similar. Since 2014, approximately 28% of the water used for irrigation in agriculture has been fed from wastewater treatment plants.
In California, sewage is subsidized by the state
At the initiative of Anthei Hansen, District Director of Del Puerto, Calif., an idea has emerged to connect government pipelines conducting recycled water directly to those areas that are most severely affected by America's most populated state.
Although in 2017 California recorded a year with enough rain to grow its crops, it is generally an exception that confirms an unpleasant rule.
The North Valley project is the first project of its kind in this area. In the dry area tested by drought every year, a volume of water that will fill 30,000 Olympic pools a year should be brought every year. Source: keepcaliforniafarming.org
Thanks to the project called The North Valley Project in 2018, the San Joaquin Valley, for the first time, water was supposed to travel for 20 miles from the remote wastewater treatment plant of Modesto town.
This initiative will support farming areas where large crops such as apricots, walnuts, limes, tomatoes and melons are grown.
The Jennings Wastewater Treatment Plant in the San Joaquin Valley sends recycled water from the pipeline and sewerage of the Modesta and adjacent areas. Source: modbee.com
To use the water smartly and cautiosly, farmers should learn how to do it
In addition to using wastewater in agriculture, we should also focus on the maximum and sparing use of water when irrigating the soil itself.
Regular training for farmers and streamlining of the irrigation system in some European countries led to a 95% increase in water savings. And this is a number that should under no circumstances be ignored.
The European Union Water Framework Directive 2000 program, after 18 years of operation, did not reach the results expected after its first phase.