Irrigation with treated wastewater: Potential and limitations
As the world population increases and resources become more coveted, water emerges as a key component to global food security. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is among the driest regions in the world: containing just one percent of the world's freshwater resources. An increasing population creates greater quantities of wastewater and demands greater quantities of food, so an obvious connection arises. However logical wastewater reuse may be for bridging the irrigation supply-demand gap in this arid region, significant limitations prevent widespread adoption. The overall goal of this research is to take a holistic view of the limitations facing communities with regard to integrating treated wastewater in agricultural production schemes. This research considers unique communities in Palestine, Tunisia, Qatar, and as a comparison, the state of Indiana in the United States, and evaluates the limitations which technology, policy, and farmer perceptions place on the potential for treated wastewater reuse in agriculture. A mixed methods approach has been be employed to evaluate the specific limitations of treated wastewater reuse in each study location. Interviews with heads of households, farmers, and experts in wastewater and agriculture were conducted and samples of treated wastewater effluent were collected in each study location. The limitations facing each location are unique depending on socio-economic conditions, wastewater treatment infrastructure and technologies, extension efforts in the community, severity of water shortage, and the nature of the policies and monitoring in place with regard to wastewater management. This research aims to inform local partners and development practitioners of the challenges facing Tunisia, Palestine, Qatar, and Indiana with regard to irrigation with treated wastewater and better prepare those entities to address growing concerns about water scarcity and food security. In synthesis, a greater understanding of the overall challenges facing this issue, regardless of location, will be achieved.
Mohtar, Purdue University.
Agricultural engineering|Water Resource Management|Environmental engineering
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