Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wastewater Farming Contorversy

A new water treatment plant is coming to Mexico. Most would see this as a good thing, however some are not so happy. The water that will be treated is currently a fertilizer source for a group of farmers in Mexico. Read through the article linked below and utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations around the globe. 


Discussion Points
  • Explain the benefits of wastewater farming.
  • Explain the problems with wastewater farming.
  • What past historical event or events complicate this situation more?
  • After reading this article what would your recommendation by and why? Plant, no plant, compromise, or something else?
  • This situation is an excellent example of how something that can benefit so many can have a negative impact on others. Can you think of other examples of this? 

23 comments:

Safrancis said...

I think that in the long haul, renewing the sewage waters would be beneficial. Although at first they may lose some money as crop managers/farmers/planters, they will in the end have an increase in money due to the reduction of environmental smell, and risk of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, salmonella, or roundworm. They can then grow healthier crops that can be consumed raw vs having to be cooked or disinfected properly first.

Unknown said...

Wastewater farming would enable the water in certain areas of Mexico to be drinkable. People wouldn't have to worry as much about the water in Mexico being bad and making people sick. On the other hand, the crops that Mexico makes would diminish by at least half because the "filthy" water is used as a fertilizer for the crops. By cleaning out the water, there will be even less food for export or even to sell.

brent said...

A 1895 presidential decree granting the farmers the right to the capitals untreated sewage complicates the situation.

BD said...

There are pros and cons with this wastewater. It greatly helps the farmers produce the best and most fertilized crop, but it comes with the health risk factors that the people that consume these crops could face. I would recommend they do a trial run with a certain amount of acres with this wastewater to see how badly it affects the crop production in that area. Agriculture is a big part of their economy, if this plant negatively affects the agriculture then they should re think there decision.

BV said...

wastewater eliminates pollution. there is no problem if you cook it properly. They should treat some of it and send it to farmers and with the rest send it down to mexico.

laroyer said...

The problems with wastewater farming is during wastewater flood irrigation, bacteria can contaminate low-lying crops and later invade consumers' digestive tracts if the produce is not disinfected or cooked. Farmers who irrigate with wastewater always face health risks such as roundworm and other parasite infections according to the WHO.

nick said...

i think that its unfair that the government is going to just stop the water act and potentially ruin the farmers crops and could possibly put the farmer in financial ruin.

paadams said...

In the long run, there are many benefits and problems of waste water farming. A problem that could occur would be that now, the corn fields are yielding anywhere from 6-7 tone per acre, while once they switched to the treated water, it could cut the yield down to half. Also with this, the cost for fertilizers and agrochemicals will rise which entail their own environmental risk due to the sewage loss.

Devon said...

The water find the way of making the crop so biger then whatit was befor and the less they have to spent on buying fredalizer

katiek said...

Wastewater farming comes with pros and cons. Some benefits of wastewater farming are reduction of demand for scarce fresh water, keep waste out of rivers and oceans, recycle important organic materials, and increases farming production greatly. However, there are cons of wastewater farming. The biggest con is the risk of disease. These farmers are using contaminated water to grow things, which could result in contaminated crops. These health concerns apply to the farmers and anybody who consumes the crops they grow. Wastewater farming is very important to the farmers and will have a major impact on them if it is taken from them. It will greatly reduce their amount of production. However, if nothing is done about the water there is the risk of disease getting worse and there being more sick people. That is why I believe there needs to be a compromise. I think if they create the plant and the farmers are no longer allowed to use wastewater there will be a great effect on there amount of production which will ultimately effect the economy. I do think they need to reduce the wastewater in some way in order to cut back on disease and make the environment safer.

G.C said...

This controversy reminds me of the health concerns raised because of human waste used as fertilizer in my local area Sheridan, Illinois that occurred in 2010. Stewart spreading treats a total of 280 acres with human waste every year. These fields are bordered with many houses,communities, and schools. Increased health issues have come to a concern in the recent years as the knowledge of the process is being realized. The farming company has stated that the human fertilizer has been treated and there are no traces of chemicals that could harm the public. Still people continue to worry about runoff contaminating water supply in the surrounding area. No one can argue that human feces as fertilizer is potentially dangerous to mankind. Both of these controversies, whether in a developing countries like Mexico or a developed country like the U.S, this is a problem. There has to be a better way to guarantee that human waste as fertilizer can be processed enough to be safe and sanitary or it may even come to banning it all together.

McKenna said...

There are many advantages and disadvantages when it comes to wastewater farming. Farmers often have no alternative but to use untreated wastewater because there is no wastewater treatment and freshwater is either unavailable or too expensive. Using wastewater can create environmental risks like soil and groundwater pollution or pose chemical risks to human health. However, if properly planned, implemented and managed, wastewater irrigation can have several benefits for the environment. It is reliable and less pricey, it increases crop yields, has a more secure production, and can improve the livelihood of agriculturalists. Tacoma, Washington have been struggling with pollution for the past eighty years. Tacoma had to hire construction companies to rebuild and replace the main sewers, hire engineers for reports of improvements, and set up multiple treatment plans all costing around $10-15 million. Since then, the North End Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant were built regulating the wastewater usage. In my opinion wastewater plants should be used to reduce these problems of pollution affecting the human health. Effluent Guidelines are regulatory standards for wastewater discharged to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants which are helping advance but not quite be safe or sanitary enough to the public. -K.P. Somonauk

Reagan Orzech said...

Nearly 2.2 million people die each year because of diarrhea-related diseases, including cholera. More than 80% of these cases can be attributed to contact with contaminated water and a lack of proper sanitation. However, while these health risks are mighty, I believe that the social and economic benefits of using untreated human waste to grow food outweighs these concerns. In my opinion, these dangers can be addressed with intense farmer and consumer education while the free water and nutrients from human wastewater and feces can help farmers in developing countries escape poverty and continue to feed themselves, their families, and their communities. While wastewater farming is a strong controversial topic, especially in developed areas where freshwater is easily accessed, as discussed by G.C from Somonauk, people cannot deny that 200 million farmers in China, India, Vietnam, and Africa harvest their grains and vegetables from fields that use untreated human waste. On top of this, as discussed by Mr. Kinsinger in previous blogs, individuals cannot forget that many times people in these underdeveloped nations are fearful and defensive about changing their ways as they see no need in fixing something that isn’t broken. With farmers, as well as 10% of the world’s population relying on foods created from this method, it is important for those against this process, especially in Mexico, to recognize the 1895 law that grants citizens the right to untreated sewage, the generations of family successes, and the possibility that without this untreated water, farmers average yield could fall by nearly half. While a compromise can be made, I think it is easier to teach someone how to properly cook their food, wash their hands, or plant their crops than it is to switch to treated water and put farmers in a frenzy to pay for expensive new fertilizers, learn to protect their environments against these agrochemicals, and grow the same amount of food on less land. Overall, this untreated wastewater is keeping farmers in business and simultaneously cutting down on the amount of freshwater that the agriculture industry uses. -R.O, Somonauk

M.E.T said...

The untreated sewage that resurfaces in the rivers and reservoirs of the rural Mezquital Valley acts as a free, rich fertilizer for the crops on small scale farms. This in turn improves crop yields, which is especially important and beneficial for the rural small scale farmers and their communities. However, because this water is untreated, there runs the risk of potential diseases that could be detrimental to those ingesting the crops. Although the crops planted in these areas are not sitting in the sewage, there's still the chance of human error, i.e a farmer falling, touching the ground then picking the crops. In my opinion, the untreated sewage is a necessity to the livelihood of these small scale farmers because they cannot afford chemical fertilizer, and they cannot afford to have smaller yields. I think matters would be different if this resurfacing only began a few years ago, however, for more than 100 years rural farmers have been taking advantage of this untreated sewage. One farmer explained that because they are able to use this untreated water as a form of free fertilizer, their corn and other crop yields are much higher than one would expect, but if they switch to treated water their crop yields could potentially be cut in half. However, I think that the farms utilizing this untreated sewage should be better monitored and tested, both crops and the communities centered around these farms. To prevent potential outbreaks of cholera, e coli, typhoid, diarrhea and roundworm infections the farmers need to take necessary precautions so the public will not become infected.

JP said...

With any controversial topic, there are both positives and negatives. In my personal opinion when it comes to the controversy pertaining the use of untreated water as fertilizer in Mexico, I believe that the good outweighs the bad. In Mexico many farmers use the country's untreated sewage water in their fields to aid in crop growth. By using this water many poorer farmers have access to a fertilizer for their crops, and it is said to help produce a larger yield. What Mexico wants to do is build a water treatment facility and in the process they will take away the only form of fertilizer these farmers have access to. My opinion in this whole situation, is that Mexico should just let the farmers keep using the untreated water. It is clearly working for them and the harm that it does cause to residents is not life threatening at this time. I do think that some measures to ensure that the untreated water is as harmless as it can get should be made, but not to the extent where it becomes treated water that the famers cannot afford. Assuming that the purpose of the new water treatment facility is to benefit the people, they should take into consideration the farmers who make a living off their crops that thrive with untreated water. Once they take that away they will have to use the money they don't have to purchase fertilizers and clean water. Through our research on developing countries, we learned that Mexico is categorized as such. While researching Mexico I discovered that part of what makes it a developing country is the fact that some parts of the country are poorly developed agriculturally than others. That is why I find it somewhat wrong for a water treatment facility to be built. These farmers are making quality crops and their untreated water method is effective and practical for them. All in all, Mexico should reconsider their decision to implement a water treatment facility within this area of the country.

J.P. Somonauk

unknown said...

Good and bad things come from wastewater farming, but from what I have read it seems more negative than positive. The good things about it is that it sewage is seen as "fertilizer-rich", it lowers the demand for fresh water, is cheaper than treated water, and it produces a large yield of certain crops like corn since it does not affect the crop itself. Part of the reason that people see it as good is the fact that farming has always been done using wastewater so people are accustomed to it. A man who is 89 said that he was raised eating crops that were grown using wastewater and his reasoning for this not being a problem was that "it never gave him the runs", which is not exactly proof, but the fact that he is still living and is not sick (as far as I know) means there must be something good about it. I still think it is unsanitary and has many cons though. Since the water comes from waste and is full of bacteria, there are many types of crops that cannot be grown since they are so close to the ground like broccoli. The farmers of these crops also have a higher risk of diseases like ringworm and parasites; their children are also at risk for diarrhea and salmonella. Many farmers don't mind this and multiple generations of their families will wash their hands in this water before eating which spreads the diseases even more. I believe that people find this okay only because they are use to it and their bodies are adapted to the crops and water used for hygiene purposes. Could it just be that people who are not from Mexico have a higher risk of these diseases? I think there could be a compromise for this because I think that if people are accustomed to using this water and this farming method, changing to treated water could cause more of a health issue than the sewage water. The plant could still be a good idea though because it can allow fresh water for farmers to grow crops like cauliflower and other low-to-ground crops that can't be grown with the current water due to contamination. The biggest issue with this could be trade because even though people in Mexico may not have a problem with this, families in other countries might because in countries like the US, sanitation is a huge deal when it comes to taking food from farm to plate. This is where the idea of the plant could be useful. E.D. Somonauk

unknown said...

Wastewater farming allows farmers to have produce the best and most fertilized crop. The problems of wastewater farming include risk of disease. These diseases include roundworm and other parasite infections, according to the WHO. Their children are more vulnerable to diarrheal disease and salmonella. After reading this article I would recommend that the plant stay in place, but an effort should be made to make a compromise with the farmers. Possibly the plant could take less acreage and allow the farmers to still have a section of the wastewater to use and benefit from. There could be benefits from both parties if a compromise was met, there would be less diseases and better productivity. The compromise could allow for farmers to have a safer crop and a possibly an even better one. Somonauk ST

M.P. said...

There are many benefits and risks to wastewater farming. The usage of wastewater can cause pollution to the soil and groundwater. It also is a major risk to human health, many diseases can come to a human who ingests a crop grown in sewage. Yet, with a knowledgeable farmer in charge there can be many benefits to using wastewater. Wastewater costs less than freshwater, has fixed production, and it is reliable. These farmers are used to using wastewater and are against the new water treatment heading their way. In my opinion, if farmers do decide to plant, they should have people to watch over their farms to make sure everything is running smoothly and that no crops are getting affect. This will prevent risks of a person's health. An example of something benefiting many but having a negative impact on others would have to be the railroads in Sheridan, IL. These railroads would cut straight through many people's farms, which has a negative impact on those families because they need all the space they can get to grow their crops and or raise livestock.

R.S. said...

Quite frankly there is a negative as well as positive side to the topic of wastewater farming. Something that is very beneficial to farmers in Mexico and seen as fertilizer-rich, irrigation water is not as benefitting to the health concerned people consuming the crops it is being used for. The sewage water is extremely beneficial to small scale farmers because it is an easy, quick, and cheap source of fertilization for their crops. With a new plant being brought in, this raises many concerns for farmers and their crops. What they once relied on is now being taken away which may also result in loss of crop production and income. Also the farmers will be paying more for what the water no longer accounts for. Putting a stop to sewage water being used to grow crops may also result in fewer sicknesses, diseases, bacteria, and any potential harm to others. Although this plant is not very beneficial and is more of a negative impact on farmers, the amount of rising health and other potential concerns needs to be addressed. If this was to take place in my community, I would feel more safe with the water treatment plant than I would knowing local crops are grown with sewage water, even if it is not the cheaper alternative. -Somonauk

Chism said...

A benefit that i can think of for wastewater farming is the natural fertilizer, and that it is cheap for small family farmers. Then a con for wastewater farming would be all the diseases you could get from doing it. After i read this article i thought that changing the water would be a good thing but then when i did further research i saw more benefits for doing wastewater farming than not doing it. It also keeps an interesting history to town because of how it started but it said that it leaves a bad smelling odor. So then it would not attract people to there. But they should probably switch to the higher end water filtration because a big problem why people don't go to Mexico is because people get sick from using their water.

pencesam said...

Wastewater farming can both benefit and damage its surroundings, such as pollution that affects the public health, and it also hurts wildlife as well. While not hurting the crops applied to it lowers the plants demand for fresh waters and yeilds. Yet, if people found you were applying wastewater to your crops your business income may be reduced. People are very specific in what they feel is right and wrong no matter their education. Therefore the moment they hear waste and your product being hand and hand, they may start to be more repellent into purchase. Also farmers themselves and people living near the crops are exposed directly to the wastewater and are more likely to become ill. Therefore overall, wastewater usage is not something I'd recommend.

AC said...

Wastewater farming is helpful and harmful to its surroundings. This type of farming affects public health in many negative ways. If consumers knew their food was fertilized with sewage, they would most likely no longer eat the food. Beneficially to farmers, wastewater sewage produces roughly 6 tons per acre. Water is a scarce resource in Mexico and has been for several years. Without wastewater farming, it is estimated that the total yield will fall by nearly half. This fall will be devastating to Mexican farmers because they will not make as much money as they need to in order to support their families and their community. AC Somonauk

Cassidy Johnson said...

The great debate on whether to let the rural valley of Mezquital Mexico keep their current wastewater irrigation stems from the 1895 presidential decree granting them the right to the capital’s unwanted sewage, which they see as fertilizer-rich irrigation water. Recently a massive new water treatment plant wants to come in a change this 100 year old practice. There are both positives and negatives to wastewater farming but from as far as I can tell the negatives outweigh the positives. Some positives include: the fertilization has turned the region into one of Mexico's most productive breadbaskets, provided lost cost irrigation for 90,000 hectares, increases crop yields, provides many jobs to locals, decreases the need for scarce freshwater resources keep organic waste from ending up in rivers and oceans, and recycle nitrogen, phosphorus and organic material. However there are also several negative effects to wastewater farming: it is perceived as a public health problem by many, causes many diseases and sicknesses, carried a sewer stench with it, very easy for bacteria contamination, bacterial contamination increases consumer's risk of getting cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and roundworm infections. Personally I would recommend the new water treatment facility become the new water the is used for irrigation in that valley. I feel this was because I am honestly grossed out by the thought of raw sewage water being used to water my food, I know it is supposed to provide the soil with many nutrients and increase crop yield. However I would feel much more confident eating produce I know has been fed with clean sanitary water. I know the people of the valley are used to the current system and do not think there is anything wrong with using sewage as fertilizer, but it is unsanitary and the water treatment facility would provide a much safer alternative. C.J.-Somonauk

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