United Nations Development Programme.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are integrated. Their impact in one area will influence results in every area of development and social, financial and environmental aspects must be balanced.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation.
During World War I, the German army lost more men due to a lack of drinking water than they did in combat during the early days of trench warfare. Due to the dam on the Nile river in Ethiopia, an armed conflict may arise between the different countries that the Nile passes through. Yet drinking water is one of the main requirements for life and development. Countries that are affected by a lack of water will be forced to acquire it by any means possible, in order to provide for their people and prevent hunger, disease, internal conflicts and migration. It is crucial to note that: the war for water has already begun.
Some facts and figures:
At least 1.8 billion people worldwide use a source of drinking water that is contaminated with faecal matter;
More than 80% of waste water from human activities is discharged into rivers or the ocean without being decontaminated at all;
Every day, 1,000 children die from diseases that could easily be prevented by improving sanitation and hygiene conditions;
Approximately 70% of all water taken from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation purposes.
Even in EU countries with serious sanitation problems, waste water is frequently discharged without being treated, due to a lack of means and infrastructure.
Personally, when I took over my second residence in Poland in 2020, waste water and rainwater was discharged into a cistern. I noticed that all of the houses in the village had recovery systems and, in the neighbouring town, simply a hole, or the waste water was discharged into a nearby lake or river. This drainage was performed with a tanker; however, since there was no specific site for discharging the water, the tanker was emptied via unauthorised spreading, which has significant consequences for the local flora and fauna.
I couldn’t stand to see that, especially because the residence was located in a holiday spot near the woods and the lake. Before making estimates and performing calculations, I first separated the rainwater from the waste water. For rainwater, I used a cistern with a simple filtration system comprising three filter cartridges. This water was used for watering and for some of the sanitary facilities. For the rest of the water, I installed a mini purification station, which, to me, was one of the best investments for all of us.
The cost of installation was approximately €1,500 and maintenance costs €35 per month. While I was carrying out this work, the neighbours came to take a look and asked for information, because they had discovered that a European directive regarding the treatment of waste water would be going into effect in Poland. I was able to give them information and help them through the process, since other holiday homes were equipped with an individual station for treating waste water.
In conclusion, the saving on drinking water leads to a return on investment within ten years. What’s good for the environment is good for us, in terms of our well-being and the joy of doing something small for everyone.