Methane Is Being Released from Your Sewage Treatment Facility.

Methane Is Being Released from Your Sewage Treatment Facility.

A View from the fish’s eye of a wastewater treatment plant in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

This article, which was first published by Gristand, has been reprinted on Climate Desk as part of a cooperation.

When it comes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater treatment plants are frequently disregarded, but new research from Princeton University shows that they really leak twice as much methane than previously believed.

According to the report published this week, methane treatment plants should be included in any strategy to lower emissions because it is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. According to Mark Zondlo, a Princeton professor of civil and environmental engineering and one of the study’s authors, wastewater treatment facilities are a significant source of greenhouse gases in cities, and we need to start treating them as such.

Methane Is Being Released from Your Sewage Treatment Facility.

The analysis, which was the largest undertaken on methane emissions from wastewater treatment plants in the United States, was published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The researchers looked at 63 locations on the East Coast and California.

Their analysis revealed that the amount of methane produced by these facilities was greater than what the Environmental Protection Agency had predicted by 5.3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Scientists standardize the emissions of numerous different kinds of greenhouse gases using the carbon dioxide equivalent as a unit of measurement. The EPA previously estimated that wastewater treatment facilities emitted 6.3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. According to the new analysis, current carbon dioxide emissions are 11.6 million metric tonnes.

According to Z. Jason Ren, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and another co-author, we have more than a million miles of sewers in the US that are filled with rich organic matter and may be responsible for methane emissions. However, we know very little about the extent of these sewers.

Methane Is Being Released from Your Sewage Treatment Facility.

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Governments have only recently focused on reducing greenhouse gas methane, despite the fact that scientists and environmentalists have long been concerned about it. The rate at which the globe warms up can be significantly decreased by reducing methane emissions as soon as possible.

The anaerobic digester, a dome-shaped vessel used towards the conclusion of the wastewater treatment process, is the main source of methane emissions. Small germs like bacteria that can function without oxygen are present in the digester and help destroy the potentially hazardous microbes in our waste.

While methane is naturally produced by this process, earlier emission estimates were erroneous because scientists failed to account for leaks in these ostensibly sealed containers.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body inside the United Nations that issues reports on climate change every few years, produced the recommendations that are currently in use by the EPA.

Methane Is Being Released from Your Sewage Treatment Facility.

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However the vast differences in emissions from plant to plant were not taken into account by the IPCC guidelines. The usage of an anaerobic digester was found by the Princeton researchers to be the most reliable indicator of elevated emissions.

We are aware that there would be a rise in urbanisation and centralised garbage treatment, not just in the US but also globally. Now let’s attempt to do this correctly; that will benefit both the water and the air, added Zondlo.

Vishal Rana

Vishal is working as a Content Editor at Enviro360. He covers a wide range of topics, including media, energy, weather, industry news, daily news, climate, etc. Apart from this, Vishal is a sports enthusiast and loves to play cricket. Also, he is an avid moviegoer and spends his free time watching Web series and Hollywood Movies.

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