The East Kolkata wetlands make up 12,500 hectares (about 48 square miles) of green infrastructure, creating a place where people can “live creatively with nature.” These wetlands treat millions of gallons of sewage per day. The Best Management Practices (BMPs) engineered to keep the wetlands healthy have been mastered over decades and the sewage is treated at almost no extra cost. Compare that with the millions upon millions of dollars it takes to build and run a wastewater treatment plant and you will conclude that using wetlands to treat sewage is a pretty awesome bargain. In addition, these amazing wetlands provide not only sewage treatment, but food and livelihood security, producing fish, vegetables and grains, as well as work for the local residents.
Today these wetlands are at risk because of a failure of government to provide enough raw sewage to feed them. Rather than pay the cost of maintaining the wetlands, the Indian government is sending raw sewage down the river, sewage that should have been diverted to the wetlands. In order for wetlands to work properly, a good flow of sewage is a necessity. We should all be in favor of these types of natural solutions that solve many levels of water, food, and livelihood insecurity all at once.
For more information, watch the video below, spearheaded by wetlands guru extraordinaire, Dhruba DasGupta, the driving force behind keeping the East Kolkata wetlands in working order. Thanks, Dhruba, for all you do for the planet!
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Pam Lazos is an environmental lawyer with a passion for assuring access to clean water for all, a blogger, and author of the novel “Oil and Water”, about oil spills and green technology. She practices laughter daily.
The opinions expressed herein are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of GWA.