In Costa Rica and the whole region, it is not about pulling more or more water out of the water for a growing population, but rather about saving water!
Ultimately, the amount of water on our planet is limited. Even if it rains amazingly and we have floods, it does not mean that there is always new water. It is always the same water. One can assume that every drop of water has already flowed through a dinosaur.
If 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, we can use only 0.03%. The total water of this earth has a volume of 1.65 million km³. That sounds a lot of times. If you put the whole water into a cube, it would have an edge length of 1180 km. This is the distance from San Jose to Belize; Or the edge length of Cuba. Of course also 1180 km high, whereby the deepest place in the sea measures only 11 km. So is relatively flat. If we can only use 0.03% as available drinking water from this cube, the edge length of the water cube has shortened to 35 km. That does not even go as far as the Turrialba from the National Theater. A 35 km high water column appears to be even more powerful, just because aircraft fly only up to 11 km. But this water is all we have available on our planet as drinking water-accessible. For soon 7 billion people.
The first impacts of climate change are noticeable in Costa Rica. While there is less and less rainfall on the Pacific coast, a drop of 30% over the next 10 years, the floods on the Pacific side are growing significantly. On the one hand there is clearly too little water and the wells are getting deeper, brackish water is on the advance and where hydropower plants can not produce because of the lack of water – the “too many” water is unusable by flooded Tanque Septicos, leaky gas stations or by waste.
Now technology comes into play. Of course, we have learned to clean the water. There are also large water treatment plants for sewage. River or sea water can be treated with chlorine. In the long run, however, this makes you sick, as many studies prove. Whenever we use technology, it has its faults. On the Pacific side, sea water could be desalinated. This can be done with membrane technology. Unfortunately, there is also a highly concentrated salt broth which comes back into the ocean – or sold until nobody can see more salt. However, this solution will have to come. Even if we do not want it right.
Now, some people have come to the glorious idea of directing water from the Arenal Sea to the Pacific coast. Environmentally, at least as questionable as madly expensive. The Arenal has already sunk by 10 meters.
On the Caribbean side, membrane technology from the contaminated water masses can be used to ensure an emergency supply with drinking water. The technology in the future will determine our handling of water, is beyond question. We do not have to use them in the future either.
But if we have to do that already, then also with water should be carefully avoided. Waste water should not be fed into our rivers. Even sewage is indeed a high good, because it can be reused. The fact that chemicals have to be used again – but is not committed. The solution consists of a combination of careful and economical handling of water and environmentally friendly technology. Two years ago, we developed a system that can be used to save drinking water, which is money, and then cleaned with a planting system.
After the purification of sewage from households or schools, etc., this water can be returned to high-quality rivers, depending on the degree of purification. There are standards set in Costa Rica, which should ensure a good quality. The practice often looks different.
Normally, waste water (e.g., from a school) is routed into a three-chamber pit. Here, solids are separated from the liquid phase, which are then passed into a plant draining plant. Anaerobic processes work on the plant roots bacteria that decompose the faeces and the ingredients serve the plant as a nutrient. However, these plants should not be actually used for consumption because they also absorb harmful substances that may be contained. Depending on the sewage structure and size of the plant drainage system, water is already emerging in drinking water quality. The thought of drinking this water now has something unsympathetic. This is why this water is directed into a larger fish pond and when it is done, the roof surfaces provide rainwater, which also makes the goldfish happy.
Planting with native water plants makes it a friendly biotope. This water can now be sent through an ultrafiltration system, through which macromolecules, viruses and colloids are filtered out. Now well water and the lack of drinking water from AyA can be “mixed”. By means of the subsequent reverse osmosis at pressures of 10-150 bar, only water molecules are pumped through a filter with “mesh” smaller than 0.001 μm. 80% of the water can be re-used. If you do not want it, you can also use it to irrigate a farm. But it does not need expensive membrane technology either. Then a well-designed plant drainage system is enough. The connection to the public sewage network is no longer necessary and the costs halved. Better for us and nature. You just have to do it.