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Agricultural use of sewage water eyed

Date Posted: 2002-08-31

Okinawa’s sewage treatment facilities produce 130,000 tons of treated water per day, most of which is discharged into the ocean. Okinawa General Bureau Land Reform Office is now proposing to study the possibility of using at least a large portion of the water for agricultural irrigation. The bureau estimates that at least 100,000 tons could be used in that way.

The bureau proposes creating a pilot project in seven southern municipalities, including Itoman and Tomishiro cities, to test the idea. According to the plan, the water would be pumped in a large reservoir that is on a high ground and then piped to farmyards for irrigation. This would be the first time treated sewage water is used for the irrigation of farmland.

Officials at the bureau admit that there are some unresolved problems, the largest being how to control the nitrogen levels of the water. Another possible problem is how to ensure that the water does not contain more than 2.2 ppm of colon bacillus in 100 liters of water.

Prefecture officials say that they are setting up a test facility at Naha City Sewage Disposal Center within this year where they can study the feasibility of the plan. Already, Naha City is using water from their sewage treatment plants to flush toilets and water lawns and parks in Naha City’s new Omoromachi area.

But officials at the General Bureau want to make sure that there will be no problems. “When we use this water for irrigation of farmyards, it of course goes on vegetables, fruits, sugar cane and everything else, so we have to be sure it’s clean and completely safe,” Okinawa General Bureau Office Chief Susumu Takahashi says.

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