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We need a revolution in how we see sewage, says expert: it’s a precious resource

Ecologist

13th February, 2009

Our sewage system hasn’t changed in the last hundred years, and water companies are paying to throw money away, according to Dr Nigel Horan, a wastewater expert at environmental consultants Aqua Enviro.

Horan told an industry conference that the UK had developed a careless attitude towards water management, in part because we live in a wet climate. He warned that a shift in attitude is needed in order to see sewage as a resource, particularly for agriculture.

‘Fertiliser manufacturers in this country can only meet about 40 per cent of the demand each year because they don’t have the phosphorous,’ he said. ‘There’s enough phosphorous in wastewater to meet the whole of the demand.’

Horan’s call to action came just days before National Grid, the UK electricity infrastructure operator, released a report claiming that up to half of our grid gas demand could be met from renewable sources – principally by harnessing gas produced in landfill sites, sewage farms and dedicated food waste digesters.

Although the renewables industry reacted sceptically to the report, its ambitions are sound. These include calls for Government to change the incentive regimes for renewable energy so that suppliers would be credited for pumping renewable gas into the grid, rather than simply burning it to turn it into (currently more lucrative) renewable electricity.

For more information please visit the Aqua Enviro website

 

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