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Bringing out the trash bugs

  • Published at 04:04 pm April 29th, 2019
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A sustainable and multidimensional solution to industry effluents

Bangladesh is among the countries with the lowest level of wastewater treatment in the Asia Pacific region as the country treats only 17 percent of its wastewater (United Nations World Water Development Report, 2017). Since 2015 the water bodies around Gazipur, such as, Turag river, Belai beel etc—which represent the sewage canals of the city—have been showing rapid deterioration. 

All over Bangladesh, the industrial effluents contribute a major ratio of the untreated wastewater that needs to be handled immediately—as these are recognized units where wastewater treatment can be implemented effectively. The industry operators have ignored this part for economic reasons. It costs much to establish an effluent treatment plant and it is a troublesome job because no native initiative or technology has simplified it.

Even then, emphasising on physical and chemical treatments is not scientifically sound in this modern world. Physical treatments are costly and not fully effective and the chemical treatments produce residues of treated chemicals. 

Considering safety and sustainability, the idea is to design a low cost microbial (biological) effluent treatment plant with native microbes and local ingredients with a view to treating industrial wastewater. The wastewater then can be reused for multiple purposes. The idea of the experiment was initiated a few months ago in Fisheries Biology and Aquatic Environment laboratory of BSMRAU under the supervision of Dr S. M. Rafiquzzaman, Associate Professor.

The microorganisms that inhabit any particular type of wastewater (like tannery or textile wastewater) can utilize the substances of the wastewater for survival and multiplication. Based on this concept we are trying to isolate and optimize the microorganisms for treatment of the wastewater. Basically, the treatment plant is designed in such a way that can be easily maintained, requires only reasonable space for setting up, and reduces the cost of prevailing treatment processes by 83 percent per meter cubes of treated water.

The treated water will be a catalyst for reviving the aquatic biodiversity and in the long run, return water level of the rivers to the desired point. The treated water can also be reused for agricultural irrigation—which is even known to have beneficial effects with the presence of organic acids. Finally, the treated water may be used in households or even for drinking purpose. 

With the Government focusing to achieve the SDGs through country’s developmental progress, this microbial treatment plan can significantly support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) provided by the UN. Especially,  in terms of 6th goal that stipulates ensuring availability and sustainable management of water; and 13th goal in which the UN encourages the public sector to take initiative in this effort to minimize negative impacts on the environment. 

In conclusion, low-cost microbial treatment plants for treating industrial wastewaters in Bangladesh may not only to save our water bodies and biological resources but also to ensure the sustainable use of waters in the industrial sector and reduce the health hazards from aquatic food sources. 

We can hope that the concept of the low-cost microbial treatment plant draws the attention of authorities and government as this concerns many important sectors of Bangladesh like Fisheries and Livestock, Agriculture, Environmental degradation and pollution, Bangladesh Water Development Board, River research institutes and so on.

Koushik Chakroborty is a student in the Department of Fisheries Biology and Aquatic Environment at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University. Koushik received the 2nd runner up prize in the University category, at the Green Genius competition.