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Y. Matsuno 1 , W. van der Hoek 2 , J. Ensink3 , M. R. Aslam3 , and M. Sarfraz3
Abstract Although wastewater irrigation is often an informal practice in many urban and peri-urban areas, it has received more recognition in recent years due to growing populations and the increased scarcity of fresh water. Reusing wastewater for irrigation could be considered an alternative to disposal of surface water. It can provide a reliable supply of irrigation water and rich nutrients to the field. However, human health risks need to be avoided. A case study was conducted in 2000 in Haroonabad, a town located in southern Punjab, Pakistan, to assess the advantages and disadvantages of wastewater irrigation from different perspectives. The town has a population of approximately 80,000 and an estimated 5,000 m3 /day of wastewater reaches the central sewage system. This untreated wastewater is then directly applied to nearby fields from several outlets. Vegetables comprise 80% of the cultivated area in the wastewater-irrigated fields, while non-wastewater irrigators commonly grow cotton, wheat, and sugarcane. The study revealed that farmers using wastewater gained greater benefits than farmers using non-wastewater due to higher productivity. On the negative side, the content of nutrients in the wastewater was higher than that required for crops and, in fact, the concentrations of these nutrients in the groundwater beneath the irrigated fields were high. The study found an increased prevalence of hookworm infections among farmers who are in constant contact with wastewater over an extensive period of time, but no other direct negative health impacts were detected. Irrigation with untreated wastewater is practiced around most cities in Pakistan because of its high productivity and its role as a conventional method of pollution control. There is a need to take a new look at wastewater irrigation and come up with realistic options for maximizing the benefit and reducing the risks under the given social and economic conditions.
Introduction In many countries, untreated wastewater is disposed of to nearby surface water bodies like rivers and streams that are invariably used for various purposes further downstream. An
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Corresponding author, Researcher, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), PO Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tel: 94010867-404, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Program Leader, Health and Environment Program, IWMI Research Associate, IWMI-Pakistan, 12 KM Multan Road, Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore ,Pakistan, Tel: 92-42541-0059, e-mail: email@example.com
ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19, 20 September 2001, Seoul, Rep. Korea
Temperature ranges from 00 C in January to 480 C in July. The wastewater is valued by the farmers because of its nutrient content and reliability of supply and is often purchased from the municipality. Water supply to the Haroonabad town and surroundings for agriculture. pumping house and overhead storage. The town has a population of approximately 80. Materials and methods Haroonabad town is located in the district of Bahawal Nagar. Pakistan situated close to the India border and at the edge of the Cholistan desert. Soil in the study area is sandy loam. According to the municipal water supply company about 80% of the households have a connection and the design is to supply 182 liters of water per capita per day. For these reasons. which is mostly concentrated in the monsoon period from June to August. In all cases wastewater is untreated. and no regulations exist for what can be grown with wastewater. However. from an irrigation. heavy metals.000. clear water well. Korea . Pakistan. to assess wastewater irrigation. The general tendency is for a small group of farmers to control the water. and several main and lateral pipelines. is to reuse the wastewater close to the town for irrigation. At present. Pakistan.option to reduce the pollution of these water bodies. distributing it among themselves and later to others. industrial and drinking purposes depends entirely on water from the Hakra 4R irrigation canal. including root crops like potato. one of the distributary canals originating from the Ravi river (Figure 1). The climate is arid with 160 mm of annual rainfall. this practice is often associated with local health and environmental risks owing to its high contents of nutrients. and the annual potential evaporation is around 2. The other much smaller water ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. vegetables were the most common crops. filter beds. Groundwater is brackish with an electrical conductivity (EC) normally ranging from 3 to 5 mS/cm and is therefore not suitable for any use. the water supply scheme consists of two permanent connections with the Hakra 4-R canal. The quantities of water used and disposed of are unknown in all the cities. This paper presents the findings from an interdisciplinary study conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in the southern Punjab. health. but is receiving more recognition in recent years due to growing populations in urban areas and the increased scarcity of fresh water.500 mm. wastewater irrigation has become a widely accepted if unregulated practice in Pakistan and many other countries. Rep. One scheme consists of five sedimentation tanks. Local users recognize wastewater as a cheap and reliable source of water and nutrients for crop production. From a public health point of view there is a trade-off between the local health risks when untreated wastewater is used for irrigation and the health risks for a potentially much larger population when untreated wastewater is disposed of in surface water. and fecally transmitted pathogens. especially in arid and semi-arid regions. carrot and radish because these fetch high prices in the nearby urban markets. Seoul. southern Punjab. In 12 cities surveyed in the southern Punjab. Wastewater irrigation is often an informal practice. 20 September 2001. and environmental point of view.
storm water and industrial wastewater. N Wastewater areas Road Railway line 113 ha. There are no major industries in Haroonabad but small industries like ice manufacturing. Hashim Colony Housing Colony 1 ha Canal 4/R 72/4R 5 ha. These drains and sewage pipes were connected to a main outfall drain. Fig.’ located within Haroonabad (Fig. 20 September 2001.50 metres below ground level.20-1. The main disposal scheme at the bus stand is the biggest of the three. south. delineating of cotton and car repair/washing dispose their wastes in the sewage system. 1). The two other schemes are smaller and irrigate an area of 3 ha (housing colony) and 40 ha (Figure 1). the existing sewer lines do not function according to design. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. Rep. 73/4R 34 ha. Due to the high groundwater levels. comprising of open surface drains and concrete pipe sewers in the various parts of town. and wastewater was collected at one central point in two collection tanks from where the sewage was pumped out of the system into an irrigation scheme. Muslim Colony Bus Stand Haroonabad City 3 ha. Some fields have been only recently irrigated with wastewater while others at the main site have received wastewater for over thirty years. 1 Schematic of the Haroonabad town and wastewater irrigation field The wastewater used for irrigation consists of untreated sewage. The total discharge from the main site is approximately 3500 m3 /day of raw wastewater. nitric and sulfuric acids together with various petrol products and other chemicals also end up in the wastewater. All watercourses in the field are unlined and no drains are present. Bleaching powder. Irrigation. 1. takes place at all three locations. either with raw sewage or with a combination of sewage and canal water. There are three waste disposal stations in the town. Korea . north. Seoul. and east of the Haroonabad town.supply system exclusively provides water to the ‘housing colony. two pumps (40 HP) operate 12 hours and irrigate an area of 113 ha. In 1965 a drainage scheme was constructed. silver and gold processing cloth coloring. The other sites contribute an additional 1500 m3 /day of raw sewage.
before and 24 hours after irrigation events using a TRIME-FMTM. From the disposal stations. Water samples were also collected from the canal and from shallow groundwater through 12 piezometers that were installed in the middle of every 10-hectare square in the area. with some adjustments for different soil types and cropping patterns.. 2000). Then the farmers allocate and distribute wastewater in proportion to land. The irrigation application efficiency was calculated as a percentage of the sum of evapotranspiration and soil water remaining in the surface soil layer 24 hours after the irrigation event divided by the depth of irrigation applied. Details of the health component of the study are reported elsewhere (Feenstra. wastewater samples were taken every two hours for a 24-hour period at the pumping station. Heavy metal analyses of water and soil samples were conducted in the Central High Tech Laboratory. Samples were stored in acid washed plastic bottles after collection and sealed until analysis in the local field laboratory. Seoul. farmers acquire their entitlement by purchasing or through free access negotiated with the MC. To estimate irrigation application efficiencies. The landowners themselves decide where to use this water. In this meeting. Vegetables comprise 80% of the cultivated area in the wastewater-irrigated fields while nonwastewater irrigators commonly grow cotton. The farmers who have physical access to the wastewater disposal station through the public watercourse collude and register a single bid. Korea . the Municipal Committee (MC) of Haroonabad retains the title of this water. Wastewater irrigation practice Once the wastewater enters the sewerage system. 20 September 2001. At present there are 8 landowners that benefit from the wastewater. irrigation application to 9 plots in the largest wastewater area were monitored using a cutthroat flume. Analyses of nutrient concentrations were done by using a portable spectrophotometer (Hach DR/2010. 1997). Rep. For water quality analysis. They organize an informal meeting when the auction is announced. Normally wastewater is allocated on a weekly rotational schedule. USA) following the guidelines of the handbook (Hach Manual. average soil moisture content was measured in the surface soil layer one meter deep. They also use canal water from the Hakra 4-R canal. In the period from May to September 2000. Faisalabad. research institutions and n from discussions with the officials from relevant agencies and farmers in and around the town. The wastewater from smaller schemes is not auctioned. This sampling was conducted twice.Background i formation was obtained from government offices. University of Agriculture. which gives direct readings on soil moisture content. and sugarcane. as their lands are attached to the government-constructed watercourse. et al. which transports wastewater. the farmers allocate the wastewater among themselves and define rights. Water samples were analyzed for eleven different heavy metals by a Hitachi Z-8200 atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The entire title to use water is awarded to the highest bidder who is responsible for payment to the MC. The cropping intensities for wastewater irrigation are 300 % per year while in non-wastewater irrigation it is 200 % at ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. wheat. through their own informal social organisation.
and Cobalt (Co) exceeded the target values for irrigation use (Dep. Despite a high nutrient content in both wastewater and canal water. irrigation application depth. excessive amounts of nutrients are applied to the field. nitrogen application by wastewater is more than 7 times higher than by canal water. farmers apply less fertilizer on wastewater irrigated field than on canal water irrigated fields per season. and K amounts from wastewater application were in excess of recommended amounts. Results are shown in Figure 2. were well below the maximum acceptable concentration for finetextured soil (Dep. respectively. The average concentrations of EC. phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). while P and K applications by wastewater are more than 20 and 3 times. of Water Affairs and Forestry. This is due to the fact that canal water supply is often limited and unpredictable while wastewater is supplied continuously. and application efficiency between wastewater and canal water irrigation Cropping intensity (%) Wastewater irrigation Canal irrigation Irrigation application Application (mm/yr. Chromium (Cr). On average.the maximum. Although some metal concentrations were higher than the target concentrations for irrigation use. while in the canal water N and Co were above the target value. The nutrient contribution of wastewater and canal water for crop growth was estimated using the application data (Table 1) and water quality data (Table2). Korea . It is clear that. This is likely caused by waste that is regularly dumped into the canal from the towns and cities located upstream of the Hakra 4R canal. P. Seoul. It is noted that the nutrient contents in the canal water was much higher than that usually found in natural water bodies. Figure 2 also shows the recommended dose of N-P-K for cauliflower and cotton. the annual application depth is higher in the wastewater irrigation. Table 1 show the difference in irrigation application between wastewater and canal water irrigation. 20 September 2001. except nitrogen. but the depth in one irrigation event is higher in non-wastewater irrigation. with wastewater irrigation. of Water Affairs and Forestry. 1996). widely cultivated crops in the study area. 1996). in all other cases N. while non-wastewater irrigation is applied approximately 30 times. It is noted that some metal concentrations were higher in the canal water when compared to the concentrations in the wastewater and this suggests that no significant heavy metal pollutants originate from the Haroonabad town. Except for the amount of P recommended for cauliflower. Nitrogen (N). Since wastewater is rich in the nutrients N. Because of the higher cropping intensity. Wastewater irrigators grow crops all year around and apply wastewater around 50 times during a year. South Africa.) Efficiency (%) Average Std Average Std 300 3170 1510 53 20 200 2750 450 60 23 Table 2 shows the comparison of water quality between the wastewater and canal water. South Africa. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. all. Table 1 Comparison of cropping intensity. Rep.
it would be necessary to further assess the feasibility of this approach taking into consideration the infrastructure.46) 81.43 (0. and 300 kg of nitrogen and 70 kg of phosphorus respectively per hectare on canal water irrigated fields. South Africa. P Potassium. Co Cadmium.06 (0.05) 3.04 (0. and the type and amount of fertilizer application.73) 7.37 (0. 20 September 2001.01) 0. EC Dissolved Oxygen.00* (21.46 (1.00 (2.00) 0.50 (0.08) ND** ND** * Value exceeds the target values for irrigation use (Dep.50) 34.85 (14.50 (1.23* (0.05) 0. K Calcium.28) 8.08) 28.73 (1. Rep.05) 0.00) 0.21 (0. Mg Manganese.02) 0.02 (0. Cr Lead.92 (0. Fe Copper.75* (2. Negative impacts as a result of excessive nitrogen application such as stimulation of excessive growth and poor quality of crop products were not reported.the farmers apply artificial fertilizer. N Phosphorus (total). Ni Chromium.58) 0.07 (2. Pb Cobalt.12 (0. of Water Affairs and Forestry.00) 0.03) 0.18) 7.00* (2.00) Wastewater Average (std) 77. Zn l/sec o C mS/cm mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l mg/l Canal Water Average (std) 24.10 (0.12) 0. temporal availability of canal water.90 (0.12 (0.94) 71. Still. Ca Magnesium.27) 4.01 (0. By a simple estimation considering the application efficiency. Cu Zinc.13 (0.03 (0.58) 6.03) 0. Cd Iron. Mn Nickel.04) 0.09) 7.77(6. In this way a much larger field could be irrigated with wastewater and more farmers could benefit. timing and the amount of waste and canal waters. Seoul.09) 22.00) 0. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. Farmers who use wastewater apply on average 130 kg of nitrogen and 20 kg of phosphorus respectively per hectare per cropping season.17 (0.57) 8.02) 0.83 (25. and the deficit of phosphorus can be supplemented by artificial fertilizer.02) 0.00) 37.10 (2.65) 30. DO Nitrogen (total). Table 2 Water quality in canal water and wastewater Unit Discharge Temperature PH Electrical conductivity. wastewater can be diluted approximately 4 times to reach the suitable amount of nitrogen content.40 (0.15 (0.00) 0. 1996) ** Not detectable The option to reduce excessive nutrient application is to dilute the wastewater with canal water or use wastewater and canal water conjunctively.01 (0.23 (0.00) 0. Korea .09* (0.06* (0.05) 0.
which is currently being undertaken by IWMI. and some of it reaches the groundwater. easy access to the nearby urban market. The two lines represent the amounts of recommended N-P-K application for cauliflower and cotton. Korea . the cultivation of higher valued crops. and lower artificial fertilizer input. go below the root zone. Rep. but before the introduction of the canal irrigation system in the 1930s. which is almost 5 to 6 times higher for wastewater irrigated lands than for canal irrigated lands. which contain high amounts of the nutrients. The groundwater table is high. The reasons are higher cropping intensity due to reliable water supply. 1996). Environmental and human health concerns in wastewater irrigation The major quality concern of the farmers that are irrigating fields with wastewater was the presence of soap and detergents in the water. 1992). The average application efficiency of 53 % (Table 1) in the wastewater irrigation implies that more than 40% of applied wastewater. Seoul. 20 September 2001. The farmers generally adopted appropriate agronomic practices by sowing crops on beds rather than on flat land. The economic advantages should be further analyzed by an economic analysis. Higher yields are also reported from wastewater irrigation in Haroonabad and elsewhere in Pakistan (Chughtai and Ahmed. The difference in profitability is reflected by the difference in the land rent.1000 800 600 400 200 0 N 864 100 Recommended N for Cauliflower (123 kg/ha) P 86 Recommended P for Cauliflower (106 kg/ha) Recommended P for cotton (30 kg/ha) 80 60 Recommended N for cotton (114 kg/ha) 40 20 0 6 Wastewater (kg/ha) Canal water (kg/ha) 110 Wastewater (kg/ha) Canal water (kg/ha) 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 K 363 Recommended K for Cauliflower (101 kg/ha) 195 Recommended K for cotton (62 kg/ha) Wastewater (kg/ha) Canal water (kg/ha) Fig. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. The main benefit for the farmers in using wastewater irrigation is the higher crop productivity and profitability. used to be lower than 30 meter below the surface but has risen drastically in 70% of the area (Khalid and Riaz. which were perceived to affect crop growth negatively and to cause soil salinity. 2 Comparison of seasonal N-P-K application by wastewater and canal water irrigation.
The main human health risk of wastewater irrigation is infection with fecally transmitted worms. Under canal water irr. electrical conductivity.00 15. Untreated wastewater irrigation poses serious risks which cannot be ignored. Fig. in this town of about 80. 20 September 2001. This is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders with very few incentives to invest in treatment facilities even if there are certain negative impacts. Conclusion Farmers in Haroonabad consider wastewater a valuable resource because of its high productivity and profitability.00 10. Seoul. 2000). accumulation of heavy metals is not a major issue. the heavy metal levels did not exceed international guidelines and no significant amounts of heavy metals were found in the groundwater. It is obvious that wastewater irrigation affects ground water quality below the field. 20. 3 pH.. The prevalence of intestinal worm infections was much higher among farmers using wastewater than among farmers using canal water (Feenstra. Especially the prevalence of hookworm infection was extremely high by Pakistani standards. such as health risks for the irrigators and consumers of vegetables ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19.00 0. The municipal council is aware of the value of the water and auctions the wastewater. et al. The sites where wastewater had been applied for the past 30 years showed higher levels of heavy metals in the soil when compared with an area irrigated with regular canal water. However. Rep. indicating that groundwater has no beneficial use. and nitrate (NO3) in groundwater under wastewater and canal water irrigation fields. Apparently. 4).00 5. However.Figure 3 shows the groundwater quality in the wastewater and canal water irrigation fields.000 people with relatively little industrial activity. The many advantages have to be weighed against the potential negative effects. Korea . with almost 80% of male wastewater farmers infected (Fig. wastewater reuse is likely to become more important as a combined strategy for water conservation and pollution prevention.00 pH EC (mS/cm) NO3-N (mg/l) Under wastewater irr.
D.irrigated with wastewater. Health Risks of Irrigation with Untreated Urban Wastewater in the Southern Punjab. Ahmed.0% Hookworm male farmworkers exposed children exposed Ascaris lumbricoides male farmworkers unexposed children unexposed Fig. South Africa. The data are based on 132 exposed and 151 unexposed stool samples in the villages. van der Hoek. Pakistan. Pakistan.0% 10.0% 60. P199. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. International Water Management Institute.0% 0.0% 20. Korea . 107. The reality is that farmers will take a health risk and continue to use wastewater when there is an opportunity of a great benefit. Lahore. In low-income countries with insufficient resources for investment in wastewater treatment and lack of capacity to enforce legislation. Report No. References Chughti. and build-up of heavy metals in the soil. Islamabad. contamination of groundwater with nitrates. there is a need to take a new look at wastewater irrigation and come up with realistic options for maximizing the benefit and reducing the risks under the given social and economic conditions. International Water Management Institute. P13. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.I. Lahore and Pakistan Program. S. 20 September 2001. W. Agricultural Use: Irrigation. Pakistan. Hussain. 90. Rather than jumping to the conclusion that treatment facilities should be provided or strict legislation enforced.0% 50. 2000. R. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. 1996.0% 30. 1996. Feenstra. Lahore office. H. Rep. Wastewater Reuse in Urban Agriculture in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions. untreated wastewater is reused wherever this is attractive to farmers.0% 80. Seoul. and K.0% 70. South African Water Quality Guidelines (second edition). Pakistan Academy of Science. Institute of Public Health.0% 40. 4 Prevalence of intestinal parasites among irrigation workers exposed and not exposed to wastewater and among children below the age of 12 in the villages around Haroonabad. Volume 4.
Federal Water Management Cell. USA. Korea . 1997. Hach Company. 1992. Lahore. Agriculture & Livestock. WAPDA. Loveland. ICID International Workshop on Wastewater Reuse Management 19. P345. Seoul. A and M. Islamabad. Ministry of Food. Government of Pakistan. Pakistan. 20 September 2001. A preliminary report on groundwater studies along Hakara canal and 3 R distributary near Haroonabad town district Bahawalnagar: Hydrology Directorate. 1997. Riaz. Khalid. Irrigation Agronomy. Colorado. Hach Manual. Volume VI. On Farm Water Management Manual. Rep. Water Analysis handbook.Federal Water Management Cell.