Wastewater from households and industry creates significant pressure on the aquatic environment because of the loads of organic matter and nutrients it contains. If released into waterways, ammonia and natural processes break down organic matter in the water but can use up the oxygen, making the river uninhabitable for fish and invertebrates. Meanwhile, excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can cause plants and algae to grow excessively, cutting out light and using up the oxygen in the water through respiration or plant decay.
To successfully align wastewater management policy in support of sustainable development goals, the following practices can be considered:
- Establishment of legislation, norms, standards and regulations regarding groundwater protection, along with implementation, compliance and enforcement actions to ensure effectiveness
- Providing appropriate support for all cooperating institutions and ensuring effective coordination among them all
- Coordination with other relevant sustainable development policy areas
- Link to supporting frameworks for wastewater reduction
- Creating system of tariffs, fees, taxes and financial incentives that support the sector, such as providing necessary investments or avoiding perverse subsidies
- Education and publicity programs to change public attitudes and behaviors regarding groundwater contamination through inadequate management of wastewater treatment plants