Environmental and public health implications of wastewater quality
The reuse of treated effluent (for agriculture and as supplement for drinking water needs) is currently receiving attention as a reliable water source. This paper is aimed at reviewing the environmental and health impacts of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater effluents. The quality of wastewater effluents is responsible for the degradation of the receiving water bodies. This is because untreated or inadequately treated wastewater effluent may lead to eutrophication in receiving water bodies and also create environmental conditions that favour proliferation of waterborne pathogens of toxin-producing cyanobacteria. In extension, recreational water users and anyone else coming into contact with the infected water is at risk. Although various microorganisms play many beneficial roles in wastewater systems, a great number of them are considered to be critical factors in contributing to numerous waterborne outbreaks. Also, wastewater effluents have been shown to contain a variety of anthropogenic compounds, many of which have endocrine-disrupting properties. Since large amounts of wastewater effluents are passed through sewage treatment systems on a daily basis, there is a need to remedy and diminish the overall impacts of these effluents in receiving water bodies. In order to comply with wastewater legislations and guidelines, there is a need for adequate treatment before discharge. This can be achieved through the application of appropriate treatment processes, which will help to minimize the risks to public health and the environment. To achieve unpolluted wastewater discharge into receiving water bodies, careful planning, adequate and suitable treatment, regular monitoring and appropriate legislations are necessary.
Key words: Wastewater, discharge, treatment, health, environment, impacts, effluents