Taking the "waste" out of "wastewater" for human water security and ecosystem sustainability

Science. 2012 Aug 10;337(6095):681-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1216852.


Humans create vast quantities of wastewater through inefficiencies and poor management of water systems. The wasting of water poses sustainability challenges, depletes energy reserves, and undermines human water security and ecosystem health. Here we review emerging approaches for reusing wastewater and minimizing its generation. These complementary options make the most of scarce freshwater resources, serve the varying water needs of both developed and developing countries, and confer a variety of environmental benefits. Their widespread adoption will require changing how freshwater is sourced, used, managed, and priced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Drinking Water
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fresh Water*
  • Humans
  • Recycling*
  • Sewage*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Water Pollution
  • Water Purification
  • Water Quality
  • Water Supply*


  • Drinking Water
  • Sewage