GLP Member Research in the News

Globally, untreated wastewater used to irrigate crops way more than previously thought

Farmers around the world are using untreated wastewater to irrigate their crops way more than was previously thought—we're talking at least 50 percent more, according to a recent study. That’s a big problem since the urban effluent that's being used on crops downstream often carry diseases that can end up in the fruits and vegetables we eat.

The study, “A global, spatially-explicit assessment of irrigated croplands influenced by urban wastewater flows,” which was published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters, used advanced computer modeling to determine the extent of untreated urban wastewater being used for agriculture. The study was undertaken in order to “provide insight into the key role that water reuse plays in meeting the water and food needs of people around the world, and the need to invest in wastewater treatment to protect public health,” say the study’s authors.