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News about the sewage and pollution in Guanabara Bay in Rio have caused health concerns among Olympic athletes. Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Brazil’s sewage woes reflect the growing global water quality crisis

Wastewater treatment systems around the world are hamstrung by outdated tests that don't identify a growing array of pathogens or identify the sources of pollutants.
In Africa, more than 315,000 children die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. Shutterstock

Africa is failing to close the gap on providing water and sanitation

There have been modest improvements in water and sanitation provision in Africa, but there is still a long way to go. Most citizens rate their governments’ performance in this sphere poorly.
Could municipal biosolids be a trove of tiny treasure? Heather Lowers, USGS Denver Microbeam Laboratory

Mining for metals in society’s waste

Mining waste rock from historic mines or even treated sewage to find useful metals and minerals could be a sustainable way to meet demand for these finite resources.
New Delhi’s Yamuna River, like much of India’s water, is polluted. The world urgently needs low-carbon ways to clean things up. EPA/Harish Tyagi

Let’s make sure that cleaning up the world’s water doesn’t send our climate targets down the gurgler

Much of the world still lacks access to proper sanitation and clean water - an issue that needs urgent action. But without low-carbon technologies, clean water could come at the expense of the climate.
Run, don’t walk. County Clean

We must change our ways to fight fatbergs

It was a ball of grease so enormous, so destructive and so repugnant that not just London, but the whole world, recoiled in horror. The city’s biggest-ever fatberg lurked under Kingston-upon-Thames for…
Dredging of Tasmania’s Tamar Estuary reveals our sewerage systems aren’t coping so well. Ian Kidd

Sewerage systems can’t cope with more extreme weather

Anyone flushing a toilet in urban Australia today does so confident that they’ll never again see the thing they’ve flushed. They probably also think they are causing minimal environmental harm, thanks…
Increased coastal population growth and rising water levels could lead to damaged sewerage systems and water contamination. Flickr/autowitch

If the tide is high, our sewerage systems won’t hold on

Sea levels are rising and the world’s vast coastal settlements face many damaging changes. One of the most difficult and expensive challenges is the risk to the safe and effective operation of our sewerage…
Sewer infrastructure isn’t ready for our water saving techniques. gnackgnackgnack/Flickr

What’s that smell? Water saving’s unintended consequences

Saving water is a good thing, right? But what if I told you it could also cause problems. A recent study from Victoria University indicates water-conservation can have unintended consequences for residents…
A nice drop: we have the technology to recycle water to drinking quality, but have we the will? Flickr/chantel beam photography

Recycled drinking water: what Australians need to know

Our conventional water supply system that continually captures and delivers water is under great strain because of an increase in population, rapid urbanisation, and drastic changes in climate and rainfall…
It doesn’t take much for sewage to break out of its pipes and into waterways. Claire Evans

Popping the pipe: how sewage gets out into the environment

Australia’s urban waterways are often polluted and sick. They suffer from a condition called the “urban stream syndrome”. A common factor that contributes is contamination from sewage. How and why does…
Microbial fuel cells: a bit of mud or sewage, a few bacteria and, bingo: electricity. engineering for change

Mud power: how bacteria can turn waste into electricity

When you read the word “bacteria” you probably think about illness, advertisements for “probiotic” food supplements, and maybe about brushing your teeth. Chances are, you probably don’t think about electricity…

Raw sewage full of unknown viruses

Raw sewage could be home to thousands of novel, undiscovered viruses, some of which could have implications for human health…

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