The treatment plants managed by Hydraqua and its investee companies (Alicante waters, Waters of Elche, Agamed Y Waters of the Kitchen garden) collected in the last year a total of 3,033 tons of waste, of which about 2,400 tons correspond to wipes, swabs, and masks, among others. In addition, until October 2020 they have collected a total of 2,575 tons of waste.
This amount would appropriately be about 134 garbage trucks per year, counting that each truck can load around 18 tons. Every year, tons of waste end up in the sewage networks and treatment plants due to misuse by citizens.
Waste such as wipes or swabs, and recently masks and gloves due to the coronavirus crisis, end up in the sewer networks after being flushed down the toilet, despite the fact that they are not biodegradableand create obstructions in sewage networks.
Furthermore, in the case of baby wipes or make-up removers, the problems generated involve the presence of skeins and skeins of textile fibers that clogging machinery filters through which the water from the city’s sewers passes continuously.
This generates what on a social level has already been called “the Monster of the Sewers.” The composition of these wipes is made of textile fibers, often mixed with plastics and, although many of these containers indicate that they are biodegradable products, they are not really easily disintegrable, since the time they take to degrade is considerably high.
The facilities most damaged by this fact are the sewage pumping stations, which require constant cleaning, with the consequent odor and noise nuisance that this causes the residents of the area where the pumps are located. In addition, the useful life of all hydraulic infrastructures is associated with the proper use made of them.
Hence, throwing out these elements implies a increase of between ten and fifteen percent the maintenance cost of networks, that is, an additional 230 million euros per year in Spain according to the Spanish Association of Water Supply and Sanitation (AEAS).
Another remarkable fact that corroborates the misuse that citizens make of the sewer network is the nnumber of incidences that Hidraqua attended during the home confinement. Thus, between March 15 and April 28, 2020, a total of 159 incidents were addressed in the sewage network, practically the same as in the same period of the previous year.
This is an extremely high amount, since sectors such as services or the industrial sector, which are the ones that usually concentrate a greater incidence in sewerage networks, were totally or partially paralyzed.
The World Sanitation Day, which takes place this Thursday, November 19, is promoted by the United Nations since 2013. This year its motto is “Sustainable sanitation and climate change” and seeks to raise awareness about the new reality facing humanity.
Floods, droughts and rising sea levels can damage any part of a public sanitation system – pipes, tanks, or treatment plants – and lead to wastewater discharges, which can create a public health emergency , as well as deteriorating the environment. Therefore, it is urgent strengthen sanitation systems to withstand inclement weather and be sustainable.
According to the United Nations, some 4.2 billion people worldwide have sanitation systems that are poor and vulnerable or, in some cases, completely lacking. For this reason, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the roadmap to achieve a more equal and just world, include in their sixth point the commitment to achieve clean water and sanitation for the entire world population by 2030.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining the good condition of these facilities, and it is that through tools such as City Sentinel developed by the Suez group, we are able to detect and quantify the presence of the SARS virus in wastewater -CoV-2, which makes it possible to follow the evolution of viruses and predict possible outbreaks.