Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Collin Borzell makes this connection in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This current event was reported in The Atlantic, on August 4th, 2016, under the title, A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem, by Olga Khazan. This article is likely to be real, due to the proven benefits of digesters around the world and proven success.

The city of Rio has historically had poor waste management, causing a substantial source of pollution that is transferred to the lagoon Marapendi. Due to the upcoming Olympics which will take place in that very lagoon, increased attention is being drawn to sewage. This article about bio digesters relates directly to WRE in the area of wastewater engineering. This project has several humanitarian and small scale designs benefits, proving another successful implementation. With the Rio Olympics being a national event and wastewater being a genuine concern, this project has received attention, hopefully leading to the propagation of wastewater treatment. Although this article lacks technical descriptions, it still acts as a nice project over view.

Figure 1: Vale Encantado Bio Digester

This project has a major economic benefit over traditional sewage treatment, by being about one sixth the cost. Although this is a reduced cost to other alternatives, it is still far greater than the current dumping method. This digester project has direct environmental impacts by treating wastewater which otherwise would have gone directly into receiving water. Social impacts include spreading awareness for the problems but also providing a solution. Space is in huge demand in the favelas of Rio, and unfortunately this system takes up the space of about on house, making it difficult to place (figure 1). There is also concern for prolonged community participation in upkeep and maintenance. Although this will increase the effort required by communities it will still have several environmental benefits.

Reference:

Khazan O. The Cheap, Easy Fix to the Olympics’ Sewage Problem. The Atlantic. 2016. Accessed May 11, 2017.

“University Of Wisconsin”. Uwosh.edu. N.p., 2010. Web. 11 May 2017.

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