EghtesadOnline: Only a fraction of treated wastewater produced in Khomein County’s Wastewater Treatment Plant in Markazi Province is used in industries and the rest is dumped into rivers, managing director of the provincial Water and Wastewater Company said.
“As there is almost no market for recycled water, it is poured into rivers, and the stench has made life miserable for the residents in and around small towns of the county over the last 10 years,” Yousef Erfani Nasab was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Treatment capacity of Khomein’s sewage treatment plant is 12,000 cubic meters per day, of which 7,000 cubic meters can be used by municipalities and industries namely steel, petrochemicals and car factories.
“While the use of wastewater for a variety of purposes is gaining traction (in many countries) as a means to help preserve scarce freshwater resources, it is regrettable that our industries (except for a few timber factories) refuse to use recycled wastewater.”
Either industry owners are not aware of the province’s water shortage challenges (because of which water is rationed in villages in summer), or they prefer to tap into (depleting) groundwater resources that seems economically feasible.
According to the official, as per a contract between industries and Khomein’s wastewater treatment plant, the former is obliged to supply treated sewage to the latter. However, they are not committed to the terms of the deal (as they have access to unauthorized wells).
“Recycled sewage cannot be stored and as soon as it is treated, it must be transferred to users (like factories). If not, it needs to be directed to rivers in which case the stench is overpowering.”
While demand for wastewater is rapidly increasing in arid and semi-arid industrial areas (like Isfahan Province), the strange reluctance of manufactures in Markazi Province is cause for concern.
Global warming has deepened droughts in many parts of the world, and the planet will continue to heat over the course of the century, even under optimistic scenarios.
"There is an absolute necessity to increase water security to overcome the challenges unleashed by climate change,” the water official was quoted as saying.
One viable option to fight water paucity in industrial regions is to oblige plants to use treated wastewater.
Many industries in water-scarce developing countries use treated wastewater because it is the only water they have. Also using wastewater costs less if the alternative clean water source is deep groundwater.
Today, wastewater is seen as a valuable resource not only for farming but also to help industries stop depleting underground tables.
What is more worrying is that Markazi Province is not the only area where large volumes of treated sewage goes to waste. The same is true in Hormozgan Province where Bandar Abbas Wastewater Treatment Plant is planning to siphon a part of its treated output into the Persian Gulf as there are few buyers for treated wastewater.
Economic and environmental pressure and conservation culture have led to growing applications for recycling of wastewater, including irrigation of non-food crops, green spaces, recovering arid land, fire systems, industrial cooling or industrial processing, sanitation and even as indirect and possibly direct sources of drinking-water in some countries.
The beneficial use of wastewater also helps decrease the impact of disposal sewage or industrial effluent on the environment.
Markazi Province in western Iran is the country’s fourth biggest industrial hub and a major producer of travertine stones, plants and flowers.
Small- and medium-size enterprises in the province are located in the industrial cities of Kheyrabad Arak, Delijan, Khomein, Aybakabad, Arak and Shahid Babaei Industrial Zone. Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan are the main destinations of exports from the province.