About the author

Name and title(s):

Marcos von Sperling, PhD. Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Areas of expertise:

Wastewater treatment.

Marcos von Sperling is author of several IWA Publishing publications and Editor for Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development.

 

Questions

This year, the UN’s World Water Day is dedicated to topics in wastewater. What do you think/hope this will achieve?

I think it will help to reinforce that wastewater management (collection, transportation, treatment, disposal and products recovery) is an essential component of a broader concept of environmental and public health protection. People working in the area are already conscious of this, but the public in general and decision makers, although they might be aware of its importance, may not have the drive to consider it as one of the priorities of urban and rural infrastructure.

Why is the topic of wastewater important?

To understand the concepts related to wastewater is important, because wastewater causes pollution and diseases. Therefore, from the perspective of environment and public health, it is mandatory that wastewater is properly managed. There is an enormous amount of accumulated knowledge in the various stages of wastewater management, and how to properly use and diffuse this knowledge is a challenge. Various entities are involved in this process, and I think one of IWA´s missions is to work proactively in this field, considering the world at large, from developing to developed nations.

What do you think is the most significant change or development in wastewater research/treatment in recent years?

It is impressive to see recent advances in wastewater microbiology that are being implemented in wastewater treatment, opening new roads for the removal of specific pollutants and the development of new treatment processes. But when we think on the world as a whole, we see that these leading-edge technologies still face the contrast of basic demands related to 2.5 billion people that do not have proper sanitation, including 1 billion that still practices open defecation …

How might you suggest people get involved and/or learn more about the significance of wastewater?

There are ample resources on various subjects related to wastewater, available in books, manuals, guides, leaflets etc, available in printed form and also on the internet. It is a matter of disseminating this material well. Again, IWA may play a leading role in this subject, due to its international reach.

 

​To learn more about World Water Day, visit the website.

 

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