Economic valuation of wastewater the cost of action and the cost of no action
Over the years, wastewater has been a source of pollution due to urbanization, growing cities, industrialization and improved material consumption, among other factors. Today, an estimated 80 per cent of global wastewater is being discharged untreated into the world’s waterways. This affects the biological diversity of aquatic ecosystems and disrupts the fundamental web of our life support systems, on which a wide range of sectors from urban development to food production and industry depend.
With only 8 per cent of the required capacity to treat wastewater effectively, low-income countries are the hardest hit by contaminated water supplies and resulting impacts: loss of ecosystem services and economic opportunities; climate change aggravation through wastewater-related emissions of methane (CH4 ) and nitrous oxide (NO2 ); spreading of “Dead Zones” impacting fisheries, livelihoods and the food chain; and health impacts due to waterborne diseases. Yet, if properly managed, wastewater could be a source of water, energy, fertilizer and other valuable materials and services.