World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March every year to warn about the utmost importance of water and water resources. As is well known, water is a pivotal resource which sustains life on earth. However, numerous countries of the world have no access to drinking water. The first relevant guidelines on the preservation and proper use of water were passed in 1977 at the UN Conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution on observing the annual World Water Day on 22 March. The first World Water Day was celebrated in 1993. The idea behind this was to focus global attention on the problems associated with water and water resources. World Water Day is celebrated every year with a different central theme: Water and Food Security (2012), Water for Cities (2011), Clean Water for a Healthy World (2010), Coping with Water Scarcity (2007), Water for Health (2001), etc.
The theme behind this year’s World Water Day is ‘Why Waste Water?’ with special emphasis on reusing wastewater, a valuable resource, which, when managed properly, is an investment into human health and a safe ecosystem. Water should be managed properly at every point of the water cycle: from fresh spring water, extraction, pretreatment, distribution, use, collection and posttreatment, all the way to wastewater treatment and final recirculation into the environment. Considering the ever increasing global population, accelerated urbanization and economic growth, the quantity of treated wastewater and the level of pollution have grown proportionally. Wastewater management has been long neglected, and waste waters underrated as a potentially accessible and renewable source of water, energy and other recoverable materials.
Given that a significant part of Croatia is, geologically, porous and Karst, the purification of waste waters is the only way to preserve our dearest and most valuable treasure – large reserve of drinking water. Add to that the fact that Croatia builds its growth on tourism and production of healthy and environmentally safe food, and it becomes evident that purity of the sea, rivers, lakes, swamps and ground waters will determine our overall economic development.
Some 85% of the Croatian population is connected to the system of public water supply. Unfortunately, the system of public water drainage covers a mere 46%, and this is the focal point of all effort. A new communal water infrastructure is being built throughout Croatia, including wastewater purifiers, mostly acquired from EU funds. Of the 28% communal wastewater that is being purified in Croatia, 43% is purified at the previous/first degree, 57% at the second degree, while a mere 0.5% of population is connected to the system at the third degree of purification, which additionally removes phosphorus or nitrogen.
Urbanization and building industrial plants which lack communal systems of efficient wastewater drainage and maintenance have resulted in a continually lower quality of ground waters. Said problems loom large in the vicinity of bigger urban centers. More stringent measures of protecting the water-bearing areas are expected to slow down water pollution and maintain population drinking water supply at a satisfactory level.
It is precisely because of the above reasons that wastewater should be seen as the great potential that it is, rather than a burden to be disposed of. Technology today has yielded various treatment processes and functional systems for wastewater reuse to cater to the ever growing needs of the ever growing population, agriculture and industry.
For more information, see World Water Day