5/15/2023 - Technology and Innovation

Liquid effluents and water pollution problems in Argentina.

By Franco David Barrionuevo

Liquid effluents and water pollution problems in Argentina.

Liquid effluent and water pollution

Many human activities both domestic (wash dishes, bathing, cooking) and productive (food development, agro-industrial activities, etc.) use water and during its use provide you with a wide variety of chemical compounds. These compounds range from simple or complex organic molecules to inorganic compounds such as heavy metals or nutrients. The water loaded with compounds represents a residue and is what is called “liquid effluent”. As such it should be disposed in a way that ends up being discharged to a receiving water body such as rivers, streams, lakes and even the sea.Since an effluent reaches a receiving body can impact on water and ecosystem characteristics. The degree of impact varies according to different factors. One of them is the charge of contaminant that possesses the effluent and the volume. Another important factor is the state of the receiving body. It is interesting to note that water bodies have a self-debugging capability given by dilution processes, among others. These processes may vary due to meteorological phenomena, as well as the characteristics of the river, stream or pond that receives the effluent. However, this capacity has a limit which, once exceeded, no longer allows it to mitigate the load of pollutants it receives.If conditions are met, the effect of effluent vuelco on a timely and prolonged basis may have serious effects. An example of this is what occurs in the Riachuelo, at the limit between the province and the city of Buenos Aires. There the discharge of the effluents of plants and houses causes excess organic matter and inorganic compounds that deplete dissolved oxygen in the water. This generates the conditions for the formation of substances that originate their characteristic smell, such as sulphidric acid. Another example is what can be observed in different ditches and creeks in different parts of the bonaerense conurban. The excess of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen provided by soap and detergents and, eventually, cloacas enrich stagnant water. Thus, the conditions for excessive proliferation of algae are generated.It should be noted that the effects of pollutants in the cases mentioned above occur in very small concentrations. The same applies to compounds that may have toxic effects on living beings. This is how the order of the parties per million is spoken, i.e. that there is a unit of contaminant or toxic by each one million units of water.As anyone can imagine, this problem is not limited to the large urban areas of our country. Water pollution by effluents is replicated on many other sites both in our country and worldwide. Like the Riachuelo case, one can mention the Blue River in Patagonia or the Ganges in India. In addition, the water pollution problem does not affect us all and all. The families of minor resources are the most exposed. There are numerous cases of settlements near contaminated rivers, as they are lands of little real estate value by proximity.

Effluent treatment plants

The problem of water pollution by the landfill of effluents without treating is a major challenge. This is due both to the variations of the sources of contamination and water bodies. In addition, the dimension that can be acquired in certain places is added.In response to this challenge, for several decades there are and develop technologies that allow effluent sanitation and/or decontamination. In short, effluents can be purified by physical, chemical, physical and biological processes. These processes can be applied simultaneously or in parallel prior segregation of them. The units on which these processes occur are organized in what is called an Effluent Treatment Plant, and there are both industrial effluents and cloacail effluents, as well as potabilization plants.Treatment plants act as the link between the source of contamination (A domicile or a plant) and the receiving body, hence it lies its importance to solve this problem. The proper design and design according to the quantity and type of effluent to be treated ensure the debugging of the water. On the other hand, there should be no relevance to the correct operation and maintenance of them. It is necessary to clarify that, with only increasing the availability of these technologies, it is not enough to achieve the goal of taking care of our water resources. More infrastructure is also needed, such as cloaca networks, greater advances in the regulations governing the flow of effluents, and extensive supervision and application of them, as well as a correct planning and management of resources.

The problem of water pollution in a climate change context

Although the national and international environmental agenda is very active, for a moment it gives me the feeling that the debate on water pollution goes unnoticed in large sectors of society and politics. This is still shocking when no one is exempt from being affected by it. All of us and we all see ourselves deprived of accessing the resource either in a recreational way or for its consumption. In view of the current context of climate change, in my opinion, the care of freshwater sources must be given another dimension. The changes in the hydrological cycle do not guarantee us in the future full access to water for its consumption, industry, irrigation and ecosystem protection. A clear example are the historical casualties of the Paraná River, as well as the drought that has been suffering our country these past years.Finally, in the management and treatment of liquid effluents there is also a veta to combat climate change. According to the last Biennial Update Report of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, 40% of the emissions of Invernate Effect Gases (GEIs) from waste correspond to the household and industrial liquid effluents. Greater coverage and improvements in treatments can decrease these emissions. On the other hand, the use of biogas, a source of renewable energy, is also an alternative. Another proposal on this line is the maid in countries like Israel. There the effluents are reused to watering using which they are loaded with nutrients. This reduces the consumption of fertilizers whose production contributes to the emission of hundreds of millions of tons of GEIs worldwide every year.

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franco barrionuevo

Franco David Barrionuevo

Hi, I'm Franco, I'm a career student in Environmental Engineering. In addition to my deep interest in the various current environmental issues, such as climate change and water pollution, I am also passionate about programming, data science and artificial intelligence.

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