Prof. Avner Adin | Reusing and Recycling Water as Efficient Alternatives for the Preservation of Life
Avner Adin

Prof. Avner Adin | Reusing and Recycling Water as Efficient Alternatives for the Preservation of Life

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Well, thank you very much, my new friends, these are the ambassador and your team, CUMIPAZ and the World Embassy. I'm so glad to be here. It's been a long time since I had heard such deep words about human beings, human life and the connection to the environment. So, thank you very much.

I speak a little bit of Spanish, I'm going to speak in English. I think the most important thing that happens later is that the Panama football team went to the World Cup. So, congratulations!

So, after saying that, what will I do in this short time, I will give you an introduction but then I will talk about mainly about water reuse but I will try to look at the big picture because it does not go by itself. I will talk about the changes in the whole water cycle that is happening, where is the water reuse coming from, what are the challenges in front of us, and what is necessary to go further.

Now, there is a quest for water in mankind for many years, since the old biblical times and until these days. We are used to thinking that there is not enough water in the world but I think we have to change the way we think because there is a lot of water in the world. If you would look at the map of the globe you can see 70% of the globe is full of water. By the way, the human body also has 70% of water, so maybe there is a connection.

Anyway, you can see here the ... Israel lies here in the Middle East but Israel is not totally dry, it actually has all the climates in the world. And our experience, I think can be something to learn from other nations.

But if you look at this globe there is a lot of water, not only the ocean water because we how to desalinate water at a good price, and we know how to treat wastewater and reuse wastewater at a good price. So, what I am trying to say is that it is not the quantity of water that should lead us to solve the water problems, but it should be the water quality. That is the problem Because we cannot use the ocean water.

There is enough water on the globe, but we cannot use it because of its quality. The seawater is salty but if we remove the salt then we can drink it. The wastewater is full of contaminants and bacteria and viruses, but if we remove them we can even drink it. So, actually, the whole way we look at water management should be different in this century because we can actually manufacture water, a lot of water.

So, we can manufacture water through water reuse, we can produce water from the sea by desalination plants and we produce water from subterranean breakage water, also by desalination. So, actually, we completely changed the water cycle.

In Israel, for example, 60% of the drinking water comes from the sea, 50% of the agricultural irrigation water comes from wastewater. So, instead of the regular water cycle that we learn from school that there is evaporation from the sea and there is rain, and there are lakes and rivers that are being created, and we take the water from them and wells; The water cycle had expanded, it is not only this. So, we have the sea became a direct part of the water cycle. The wastewater that comes from the houses became another water resource. So we have a much more complex water cycle, but it is a better cycle because we have more water than nature can give us.

So, actually, we can look at the whole picture as being built from two phases or two parts: one part is the part of the water resources. It is the sky, it is the clouds, it is the sea, the surface water, groundwater and it is wastewater. And the other part of the cycle is the cycle of consumers: which are the industries, which are the houses, ourselves, which is agriculture. And also nature should be regarded as a water consumer, too. For example, dry rivers because the water has been taken from them for drinking long ago, we can rewire them back by putting in the treated wastewater, which would feed ecological life; or we should keep enough water to give to the natural reserves because they are very important to us.

Now, there are still ... But there are still many challenges that we have today and science has to work and water industry have to work in order to combat them. First of all, because we have so many types of water now in the water systems (that I mentioned before) we need to know how to manage the water in a way that each one will get the right and good quality of water. There are several challenges because, for example, water is corrosive and there are not enough minerals in it because they have viruses and different types of bacteria, but we also have nanoparticles from different industries that are penetrating the surface water.

The groundwater is still suffering from the industrial pollution from microorganic contaminants and heavy metals. The wastewater has, you know, the general type of organic materials and bacteria and so forth, but also if you want to use the wastewater for agriculture, we need to remove or take care that there is no boron which is not good for plants. And we need to try to find out about hormones and medical contaminants and to have the right guidance on how to remove them. But most of all, we must look at this in a holistic way and I will give you an example. For example, if you desalinate water in the beginning of the cycle the water after desalination comes without any minerals: no calcium, no magnesium, no other minerals. Some of the minerals like calcium are important to prevent corrosion in the systems. But magnesium, for example, is very important for the health. So, we have to look for this when it comes to drinking but this is not the whole thing.

After using the water at home, the water goes to recycling, the wastewater to be treated and irrigate the plants but the water does not have magnesium and other elements which are very important for the plants. And then, the soil also needs magnesium for stability. So, when we look at something to correct, for example, to add water we have to look at the whole cycle from the beginning until the end to find out what is going to happen. Even if you look at a small thing, for example there is a leakage from a pipe. "There is a hole in the pipe." What people normally do is invite the company, find the hole and close it. But after some time they have another hole and another one and another one.

So, first of all, it is better to find the cause: why did it happen? Probably because of some things upstream, changing the water quality or something like that. But then if you repair the hole, for example, they put some materials to close it, these materials may be dissolved and they may be toxic to life downstream.

This brings me ... and I will talk about technology in a moment but if there is a need to combat challenges in water and to supply water and to treat wastewater. First of all, we have to analyze the whole situation and then decide what is the solution, and then decide what would be the right, proper technology to use there. And do not worry about the water industry, they will not have many. They will have it, they are enough problems in the world but the solution is not to run and they offer and buy a technology before you really look at the solution and do it.

I do not have much time to enter into what is happening in Panama, but also in the creation of the lakes for the canal, created some other challenges about the local population, the drinking water (this is necessary), there is pollution that is happening. And again, by holistically looking at the whole thing, it is possible to find the right solution for both the channel and the people, will live together in harmony.

Now, if we talk about water reuse ... Now understand that water reuse is a part of a whole water cycle. (Now, you can look here and you can say it).

Translator - Why water reuse? First point: water shortage. (Why reuse water? First: shortage of water).

There are many advantages to reuse wastewater: one, is a new water resource, as I said, to overcome water scarcity. Another thing is to help when there are water shortages because we have wastewater all over the year, it can be accumulated and kept for dry seasons, for the part of the year that rain is scarce. By reusing the wastewater we actually solve an environmental problem, instead of the waste that pollutes the sea and pollute the lakes and pollute the rivers, it is being reused. And not less important is that we reuse wastewater for agriculture, for industries and also there are some places that use it for drinking after very good treatment.

Then, we have more natural water available for drinking, and this is a very important sustainable characteristic. And it actually gives economical motivation for conservation, and we know that in order to improve water quality, it is economic incentive and here there is economic incentive because the reused wastewater is normally cheaper than bringing natural water. Now, there are many applications to treat the wastewater, there is a whole list here but in short, I will say that I mentioned agricultural irrigation, but it can be used for industrial purposes, for sport, golf courses, stadiums, toilet flushing and other uses.

Now many countries that have ** a lot of rivers or lakes but many of them are polluted that to reuse the wastewater can be cheaper than trying to solve very quickly the pollution problem. There are also different public health challenges, technical challenges. (There is not much time for that, I hope you can distribute slides to the participants). One thing that I can point to is that the soil of the saltwater is more than regular, most of the regular natural water. But if you can mix natural water with the salted water, for example, or desalinated water, then the salinity will be much smaller. Much less, if you mix wastewater with natural water that has less salinity, you reduce the salinity. Am I right?

Now, some technologies that have been applied, for example, what is called soil aquifer treatment. (The soil treats the water, okay?) There is a long harbor in Israel and the water that comes from this is very, very clean and irrigate even vegetables and other foods. This is a slow sand filter, a very simple technology that by doing research with people from Dakar in Senegal ... To understand slow water filters you need a lot of science but to operate it is very easy. And this is used in Dakar in order to purify the wastewater and to irrigate with it.

There are also very advanced ports to desalinate sewage and have waters that are ... (are you back? I wanted to experiment with my Spanish and they do not let me) Today there are more projects in advanced countries in order to turn wastewater into drinking water In California, in Singapore, Namibia in Africa, in Israel we also have the ** but not yet approved for drinking. So, the technology can be more complex or easier but there is one thing that is common to all technologies: you need good science and technology in order to know how to create them, and this is very important. I do not know if in Panama you have, for example, technology called incubators but this is a good way to develop your own way of technology solutions.

There are different types of development technologies, for example, the Uv disinfection of water in vase water, by special hydro optic devices. There is a nice way to turn wastewater treatment plant, that is not sufficient because of the population grows. You throw into the wastewater basin little plastic pieces, and because bacteria like to sit on something, they sit on them and they work more effectively in the treatment of the organic matter in the wastewater. There are a few plants like this in Mexico and other places.

If we talk about this research, it is work that I did in my laboratory, one of the biggest problems in water and wastewater transport and also treatment is the form of biofilms. The form of biofilms in the pipes, and their form in water drinking pipes, in wastewater pipes. They increase the friction of the water with the pipe and this way you lose a lot of energy, you need more pumping. Also, they accumulate particles and bacteria, and when the biofilm goes, it slides off and carried further.

What we have developed in a way is to fight those things by introducing nanoparticles of silver, the silver is a disinfectant, and what you do, you can introduce it into the water and they collect there, and they can prevent biofilm formation mainly on membranes, for example, they suffer a lot from what is called biofouling.

So, I would say that that is actually there is more to do but still, there are solutions, the technology is there and it is possible to recycle water and to reuse water and to desalinate water, in prices that could be affordable but in a larger part of the population.

There are a lot of innovations in this area but the last thing that I would like to talk about is about regulation. Normally we as scientists and also development of technologies, they do not like regulations. Who actually likes regulations? We want to do what we like to do and we want to earn money for it and do it easy. But regulations are really very important because by having regulations, not only do you keep the health of the people but also you give it targets. For example, if I want to treat water in order to remove turbidity (turbidity) is a phenomena or light scattering by particles, which is a measure for particulate matter in the water or in the wastewater. Okay, we want to remove it, but how do we need to remove it? Do we need to remove all of it, every tiny particle? Not for drinking, for electronic industry, yes. They also have their standards for drinking water standards. And the engineer that has to design the solution, I need to know how to do it, and the regulation provides it. So, I encourage it, they do not like it but I encourage scientists and engineers to participate in the regulation process. It's very important.

Standouts are the major driving force in the development of water industry. I have been involved in that and I can assure you that is very much correct.

So, in conclusion, I think we understand water recycling and reuse has many advantages, both for cities but also for war eras and the technology already exists, it can be improved, but it is there. We need multidisciplinary search furthermore to get better solutions, to better protect our health from new things that are arriving. But I would say that the most important conclusion that I can say, is not written here: it's when you have a problem, look holistically at the problem and then derive the right solution for it.

And I wish all of us to have enough good water for generations to come.

Thank you.



Water scarcity and environmental pollution serve as the major driving force towards the development, adaptation, and application of water recycling and reuse for the preservation of life.

The objectives of this presentation are to (a) describe the pros and cons of water reuse, (b) present actual water reuse projects, and (c) look into innovations and where science and technology can lead us to. Israel recycles 85% of its wastewater. Irrigation is regarded as a sustainable mean of disposal. The nutrients content of municipal effluents can save on costs of fertilization.

Water scarcity in Israel has driven farmers, engineers, scientists and government officials to collaborate in developing wide-scale water reuse operations and associated equipment and control methodologies, e.g. SHAFDAN project, where 140 MCM and wastewater are treated and transported to the dry part of the country for “unrestricted” irrigation.

Biotechnology enables economical reuse of the sludge as agricultural fertilizer or as clean energy source. Drip irrigation saves on water and eliminates the risks associated with direct microbiological and viral contamination. New water quality regulations and standards have been issued and progressively enforced.

R&D resulting from industry-academy-government-funds cooperation has led to innovative water saving installations, monitoring systems and automatic control for wise water management. Finally, a modern concept of the Water Cycle is proposed, presenting us with big challenges, e.g. managing blend of natural and artificial water resources varying in time and location, changing flow directions in existing infrastructure, innovative technologies in water and energy and corresponding drinking water and wastewater quality standards. In conclusion, reuse of wastewater is becoming major water resource and should be addressed as such by the legislators as well as the scientists. A holistic interpretation of the water cycle can lead to improved solutions and to the definition of necessary scientific research challenges.


access_time Mon, 10/16/2017 - 11:00