“DRINKING WATER OR SEWAGE: Is there a difference”
Below is a short excerpt from an Inaugural Lecture delivered at the University of Ife on the 16th of January 1973 by Kenneth E. Damann, Professor of Microbiology. The observation made about water and sewage by Prof. Damann forty years ago still holds today.
There has been discourse on waste water reuse or recycling. It is believed that expanding water reuse–the use of treated wastewater for beneficial purposes including irrigation, industrial uses, and drinking water augmentation–could significantly increase USA’s total available water resources. Water Reuse presents a portfolio of treatment options available to mitigate water quality issues in reclaimed water along with new analysis suggesting that the risk of exposure to certain microbial and chemical contaminants from drinking reclaimed water does not appear to be any higher than the risk experienced in at least some current drinking water treatment systems, and may be orders of magnitude lower. This report prepared by the Committee on the Assessment of Water Reuse as an Approach to Meeting Future Water Supply Needs, National Research Council recommends adjustments to the federal regulatory framework that could enhance public health protection for both planned and unplanned (or de facto) reuse and increase public confidence in water reuse.
“Water Versus Sewage”
“Since water supply is the foundation upon which rests your health then knowing that your drinking water is pure and safe to drink is a primary duty of every person. The first questions that need answering are What is water and What is Sewage? Is there a difference?
Mathematically, the difference between water and sewage is often only six inches or less depending upon the distance from the water tap to the drain or basin of a sink. For example, you may draw a glass of water from the tap and that portion you consume is drinking water. Should you choose not to drink it all and empty a portion in the sink then suddenly drinking water has become sewage or part of the product we will refer to as sewage.
In reality sewage is not necessarily an offensive product. It consists of approximately 99.9 per cent water and the remaining 0.1 per cent is composed of mostly organic and some inorganic matter. The one tenth percent includes human wastes, garbage, cleaning solvents, greases, etc. as inorganic constituents; while sand, silt, mud and cinders contribute to the inorganic material. Therefore, it should seem reasonable to assume that if sewage is made up of 99.9 percent water , then sewage is a condition in which water finds itself, rather than a new and different product. Stated more simply, water is the vehicle for carrying waste materials. To further illustrate the point, sewage has been very simply described as a stream of water flowing through homes, factories and businesses of a community into which waste materials are discharged. Then downstream there is treatment plant which removes the wastes so the next town can process the stream water for drinking and many other uses of every day living.
It seems obvious, therefore, that we must be realistic and accept the fact that water is not really consumed by man but actually used over and over again. …”
Professor Damann concluded that water means different things to different people as evidenced by the compendium prepared by Professor K. M. Machenthun.
WATER IS…………………………………………………… A NECESSITY FOR LIFE
A TRANSPORTER OF DISEASE
A SUSTAINER OF NAVIGATION
A COOLANT, CLEANSER, DILUENT
A MEDIUM FOR RECREATIONAL PURSUITS
A RESOURCE WITH FOOD FOR POPULATIONS
A POWER SOURCE TO HARNESS AND CONTROL
A SOURCE OF TRNQUIL, AESTHETIC ENJOYMENT
A REFUGE FOR BIOLOGICAL PESTS AND NUISSANCES
A DEFILED PURVEYOR OF CIVILIZATION’S WASTES.