This is Me...

Posted by Sean Chedda at Jun 05, 2017 05:23 PM |

I was free and safe once…Free to flow and fall without contamination or worry about my safety. People trusted me, no matter my source. Needed and appreciated by billions who found me in every corner of the earth and an essential part of some of the beautiful places on Earth like  springs, lakes, tributaries, rivers, estuaries, shoals, seas and my personal favourite – the ocean!

I am known simply as Water, but after I am used they call me that dreadful name…Wastewater. Together, we are the Jekyll and Hyde of Mother Nature.

As Water, I am well-loved and remain the most vital commodity in nature – “Water is Life” they say, but sadly, no one pays much attention to me after they have used me. In fact, in addition to Wastewater, they call me other unpleasant names like “Greywater” after being used for washing and bathing; “Blackwater” when I leave their toilets; industrial and agricultural effluent, when mixed with chemicals.

As Jekyll and Hyde, I often feel so misunderstood, without a single universally accepted definition for what I am, yet for me it’s all the same…I am rejected, often left untreated…left to return to and contaminate my various sources.

My vitality undermined - I have so much untapped potential! I am not just waste to be got ridden of – a PROBLEM to be solved. I am also an opportunity for you…

Connecting with Mother Nature

My mother, Nature, as you know her, wants us to have a connection but stubborn chemicals and disease-causing bacteria stick to me like the plague. To connect with her in harmony, I, Wastewater, must return to her in a cleaner form. I must become less contaminated to ensure that I can join her water cycle in harmony. I find relief in my volumes sometimes being reused to grow and beautify gardens, but not often enough and not always safely.

But alas, the hazard I pose to human health terrifies me.

Water-related diseases, fevers, sores and infections are all caused by me. I feel guilty, although I am not at fault. I should be treated better, don’t you agree? You see, it’s humans that do this great injustice to me and to themselves – I am merely the carrier. The heavy loads of pollutants that girdle me are not from my own doing…I was pure once, remember? But now I carry even more exotic cocktails of microplastics, hormones and drugs whose impacts are not even well understood.

It was never my choice to be dumped along coastlines and into the sea– untreated – where I leave foul odours and damage corals and other marine ecosystems in the vast treasured ocean.

Only 70% of me is treated in high-income countries, 38% in middle-income countries and below 10% in lower-income countries; this is unacceptable; but I rely on you to improve the standards of my treatment and management.

Socially and politically, I must be seen as a valued resource and not a problem. If economies are to grow, the health of the environment must be a priority - I must be placed in the foreground. Don’t you see? My multiple benefits and renewable form make me just as valuable as any other resource. Reuse, recycle me …treat me in a way that makes me useful again!

Now, I realise that it is not me who needs to connect with Mother Nature…it’s YOU!


By Chrishane Williams
Communications Consultant
GEF CReW Project & UN Environment CEP