Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose Challenge

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Producing PRODUCE from Waste water - I told you so

Back in April there was alot stink raised about a science study that spread sewage on the lawns of Baltimore residents. That study, conducted by scientists from John Hopkins University, and funded by federal research grants, was designed to lower the lead levels in the soil in order to prevent lead poisoning in children.

Especially among members of the Black-blog-o-sphere, this was a big shock and there was outrage. But what surprised me more, was how unfamiliar most people were to the routine re-use of sewer water and sewer waste in commercial farming and landscape practices. This practice really disgusted people. I guess I really took this information for granted because I've known since I was child that manure made good fertilizer. Farmers and landscapers use animal manure all the time to get pasture, crops, and lawns to grow tall and beautiful.

I addressed this topic, a little, but I mainly focused on educating people on how common it is to re-use waste water and sewage. I'm scanning my feed aggregator and low! Look what was announced: A new report by an international research organization finds that urban farmers in developing countries overwhelmingly rely on waste water for irrigation.

A shot of a Mexican farmer washes his spring onion crop in a river containing sewage.

Fresh produce from wastewater is a summary or web release (written in real people language) produced by the Environmental, Science & Technology Journal.

In urban areas were people depend on food being produced and transported from elsewhere, the cost to eat can get prohibitive. Even here in the US, we're beginning to feel the pressure. So, urban farming is an ideal (cost-effective) way for people to feed themselves and make some extra money selling extras to others. Water is still an important and often limiting factor. And in poorer nations, mass amounts of "clean water" just isn't necessarily available. You use what you've got. Industriousness is the provider of many. You see, waste water is filled with nutrients. Plants can take in alot of those chemicals and use them to grow strong and tall. Plus, waste water is free. I mean, it hasn't been treated with chemicals to make it potable or worth drinking. So it doesn't cost anything to use it.

I hope this gives you another reason to remember to wash your fruits and veggies off before eating them



Miriam Goldstein said...

Here in southern California, we have a specialized pipe system that uses semi-treated sewage water for landscaping and agriculture. (though our water worries are so serious that there is a movement to process sewage water into potable water.)

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