Wastewater and Your Health

Why is wastewater treatment important to me? 

What can’t you live without? When asked this question, some people might respond with a cell phone, TV, car, or computer - or some may mention essentials like air, shelter, food, and water. It is very unlikely anyone would answer "wastewater treatment." But what would happen to Athens without wastewater treatment? What would our rivers and streams look like? How would Athens smell? Would we all be healthy? The truth is, proper handling of our wastewater is critical to our health, environment, and economy.

More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet. www.water.org

Fortunately, residents of Athens have state-of-the-art water reclamation facilities in operation twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year to reclaim, refresh, and return our wastewater. Not everyone in the world has this amenity. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) current projections estimate there will be 2.7 billion people without access to basic sanitation by 2015.

Improved sanitation methods like those used in Athens are important and affect our lives in many ways we often take for granted.

Improves Health 
Basic sanitation is vital to your health. Diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis A, as well as parasitic worm infestations, are transmitted through water contaminated by human waste. Diarrhea is responsible for 1.5 million deaths every year - primarily in children under the age of five - in developing countries that lack wastewater treatment, hygiene, and safe drinking water.

Protects Wildlife Habitats 
Our rivers are home to fish, amphibians, and water birds. By "reclaiming" wastewater through our advanced treatment processes, we return high quality water to our waterways, helping to protect aquatic life and the environmental health of these special habitats.

Safeguards Recreational Water Use 

Swimming, fishing, boating, and picnicking are popular activities that improve our quality of life. Treating our wastewater prevents bacteria, viruses, and sewage pollutants from impacting the natural splendor of our waterways and recreational water use restrictions or closures.

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Lack of sanitation is the world's leading cause of infection
The North Oconee River is one source of drinking water in Athens-Clarke County.

Contributes to Economic Health

The United States is fortunate to have high standards regarding wastewater treatment. A recent Water and Sanitation Program study showed that the lack of sanitation has cost countries anywhere from 1 percent to 7 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP). The severe health problems brought on by inadequate sanitation result in direct medical costs, lost income because of reduced or lost productivity, and government costs for providing critical health services.

Fats, Oils, and Grease Program

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