Wastewater reuse and recycling systems: a perspective into India and Australia

Wastewater irrigation is a common practice in developing countries of Asia and Africa and also in the water scarce regions of the developed world like Australia. In India, wastewater is used either raw or partially treated due to high treatment costs, whereas in Australia, treated wastewater is recycled in agriculture and other sectors in water scarce areas and regions with severe restrictions on disposal of treated wastewater effluents. In spite of ill effects of untreated wastewater on human health and the environment, the practice continues in India, as wastewater is highly reliable, nutrient rich and provides year-round income, employment and food security to the urban and peri-urban poor helping them escape poverty. Whereas in Australia, recycling is promoted to complement existing water resources and reduce nutrient disposal into natural water bodies. While the problems associated with wastewater reuse in India arise from its lack of treatment, in Australia often recycling projects do not take off even when wastewater is treated to tertiary level, due to a number of reasons like the "yuck factor', high cost of supply, higher salinity than normal river water, lack of information and trust in authorities.