Thursday, August 06, 2009

wetland machines of ayala israel

Israel is in the midst of a water crisis. Climate change, a rapidly growing population, extensive agriculture and a very developed industry are all putting pressure on the few and extremely contested sources of freshwater.

Desalination creates more problems than it solves, because the process is energy intensive, expensive, and besides freshwater, ironically produces highly toxic byproducts as well. Wastewater treatment plants function under a similar ecological imbalance. More efficient and creative ways to offset water demand are therefore needed. This is where Ayala Water and Ecology comes in.

The Israel-based company specializes in designing and building artificial wetlands to treat contaminated water from agriculture, industries and urban areas so that it could be reused. The recycled water may not be potable but at least the effluent doesn't immediately get dumped and then pollute already dwindling supplies to the extent that untreated runoff would degrade them.

With the help of microorganisms, such as microbes, bacteria and fungi and water plants, they can take in toxins, heavy metals, greasy substances and pathogen agents extracting them from soil and water. They can even phytoaccumulate and phytoremediate, to use the technical terms, substances that more technologically advanced systems cannot.

Of course, no single species can neutralize all contaminants. There isn't even a master matrix of plants and microorganism that works in every scenario. The trick is in finding the right combination that, in a sustainable manner, most efficiently removes the target pollutant and yields the purity level one is aiming for.

Ayala has been doing just that for nearly two decades and has deployed their wetlands machines all over Israel and in other places further afield. You can find them in domestic settings treating household sewage so that the reclaimed water can be used for irrigating the garden. Higher up on the urban scale, they can be found treating municipal wastewater and also the stronger stuff, the poisonous waste, from industrial sites. The company has also been involved in projects to treat landfill leachates and to rehabilitate degraded rivers.

Of course, Ayala isn't the only company applying ecological solutions to wastewater treatment. There's John Todd Ecological Design, possibly the most popular of them all, or at least the one with the most media coverage; Natural Systems International, who co-designed Sidwell's educational wetland; and Worrell Water Technologies, who holds, to our surprise when we first learned of it, the registered trademark for Living MachineĀ®.
via Pruned



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