70 Days WAR Plan

Day#36 Static Flash Cards Environment & Ecology [70 Days WAR Plan]

Project Elephant; Bio-digester; ‘alpha’, ‘beta’, and ‘gamma’ diversity; Crop rotation; Ecological succession; Montreux Record; National Action Plan for Climate Change; Total Dissolved Solids (TDS); ‘Natural sinks’;
By IT's Core Team
April 26, 2019




What do you mean by the term ‘Natural sinks’?

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  • Natural sinks are the areas on the earth that have the capacity to take in the greenhouse gases and clean the air around us.

Enrich Your Learning:

  • The areas on the earth that have the capacity to take in the greenhouse gases and clean the air around us. These areas are known as ‘natural sinks’.
  • Some of these natural sinks are forest cover (trees, vegetation), oceans, and soil to some extent, all of which have the ability to take in carbon dioxide.
  • In fact, soil may also provide a removal mechanism for methane. Trees and other land plants absorb carbon dioxide and serve as a storehouse, or ‘sink’, of carbon.
  • Forest biomass accumulates carbon over decades and centuries making the carbon accumulation potential in forests large.
  • Forests offer the possibility of taking in significant amounts of additional carbon in relatively short periods of time.
  • Forest carbon may be released due to biomass reductions from fire, tree decomposition, or logging. In the case of decomposition or fire, forest carbon is released into the atmosphere. A forest fire can occur naturally or due to people’s carelessness or in areas where people practice slash and burn methods of agriculture. However, the forest may again become a carbon sink as it is restored through re-growth of the forest cover
  • Reforestation should be given priority by governments all over the world. They must ensure that deforestation activities are stopped. To succeed in this, they have to provide alternative sources of energy to the people who depend on fuelwood for cooking and heating.

Oceans as a natural sink:

  • Like the trees, the oceans also act as natural sinks taking in carbon dioxide. The oceans influence the climate by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide. Climate change is caused by the accumulation of man-made carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists believe that the oceans currently absorb almost half of the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Coral reefs, often referred to as the forests of the oceans, are one of the main sinks that take in a large amount of carbon dioxide.
  • Plankton present in the oceans, found mainly in the areas where the warm currents meet the cold currents, is an aquatic plant that, like terrestrial plants, takes in carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis.
  • The amount of gas dissolved in the water is in turn influenced by the amount of phytoplankton (microscopic plants, particularly algae), which consumes carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
  • Phytoplankton activity occurs mostly within the first 50 metres of the surface and varies widely according to season and location. Some areas of the ocean do not receive enough light or are too cold, other areas appear to lack the nutrients for the growth of phytoplankton.
  • Rather like a pump, plankton transports gases and nutrients from the ocean surface to the deep. Its role in the carbon cycle is quite different from that of trees. Ocean life absorbs carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and, while some of the gas escapes within about a year, some of it is transported down into the deep ocean via dead plants, body parts, faeces, and other sinking materials.
  • The carbon dioxide is then released into the water as the materials decay, and most of it becomes absorbed in the sea water by combining chemically with water molecules.
  • Warm water in the ocean is generally saturated with carbon dioxide whereas the cold water is unsaturated and has a great deal of capacity to hold carbon dioxide. This gas is highly soluble in cold dense water. Towards the poles, in the higher latitudes, where the ocean is cold, the carbon dioxide present in the air close to the water gets dissolved in the water.
  • The carbon that is absorbed by the ocean through the two processes can be retained for about 1000 years.




What are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)? and which methods can be used to reduce the Total dissolved solids (TDS)?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS):

  • TDS stands for total dissolved solids and represents the total concentration of dissolved organic and inorganic substances in water.
  • TDS in drinking-water originate from natural sources, sewage, urban run-off, industrial wastewater, and chemicals used in the water treatment process, and the nature of the piping or hardware used to convey the water, i.e., the plumbing.
  • Excluding the organic matters that are sometimes naturally present in water and the environment, some of these compounds or substances can be essential in life. But it can be harmful when taken more than the desired amount needed by the body.
  • The total dissolved solids present in water are one of the leading causes of turbidity and sediments in drinking water. When left unfiltered, total dissolved solids can be the cause of various diseases.
  • TDS is made up of inorganic salts, as well as a small amount of organic matter. Common inorganic salts that can be found in water include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, which are all cations, and carbonates, nitrates, bicarbonates, chlorides and sulphates, which are all anions. Cations are positively charged ions and anions are negatively charged ions.
  • These minerals can originate from a number of sources, both natural and as a result of human activities. Mineral springs contain water with high levels of dissolved solids, because the water has flowed through a region where the rocks have a high salt content. The water in the Prairie provinces tends to have high levels of dissolved solids, because of high amounts of calcium and magnesium in the ground.
  • These minerals can also come from human activities. Agricultural and urban runoff can carry excess minerals into water sources, as can wastewater discharges, industrial wastewater and salt that is used to de-ice roads.
  • Alone, a high concentration of dissolved solids is usually not a health hazard. In fact, many people buy mineral water, which has naturally elevated levels of dissolved solids. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for drinking water regulations in the United States, includes TDS as a secondary standard, meaning that it is a voluntary guideline in the United States. While the United States set legal standards for many harmful substances, TDS, along with other contaminants that cause aesthetic, cosmetic and technical effects, has only a guideline.
  • Increased concentrations of dissolved solids can also have technical effects. Dissolved solids can produce hard water, which leaves deposits and films on fixtures, and on the insides of hot water pipes and boilers. Soaps and detergents do not produce as much lather with hard water as with soft water. As well, high amounts of dissolved solids can stain household fixtures, corrode pipes, and have a metallic taste. Hard water causes water filters to wear out sooner, because of the amount of minerals in the water.
  • However, while TDS itself may be only an aesthetic and technical factor, a high concentration of TDS is an indicator that harmful contaminants, such as iron, manganese, sulphate, bromide and arsenic, can also be present in the water. This is especially true when the excessive dissolved solids are added to the water as human pollution, through runoff and wastewater discharges.
  • Water treatment facilities can use reverse osmosis to remove the dissolved solids in the water that are responsible for elevated TDS levels.
  • Reverse osmosis removes virtually all dissolved substances, including many harmful minerals, such as salt and lead. It also removes healthy minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and ideally such water should be filtered through a magnesium and calcium mineral bed to add the minerals to the water.
  • The mineral bed also increases the pH and decreases the corrosive potential of the water.

What is PH?

  • The pH value of a water source is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity.
  • The pH level is a measurement of the activity of the hydrogen atom, because the hydrogen activity is a good representation of the acidity or alkalinity of the water.
  • The pH scale, as shown below, ranges from 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral.
  • Water with a low pH is said to be acidic, and water with a high pH is basic, or alkaline.
  • Pure water would have a pH of 7.0, but water sources and precipitation tend to be slightly acidic, due to contaminants that are in the water.
  • The pH scale is logarithmic, which means that each step on the pH scale represents a ten-fold change in acidity. For example, a water body with a pH of 5.0 is ten times more acidic than water with a pH of 6.0. And water with a pH of 4.0 is 100 times more acidic than water with a pH of 6.0.




What are the goals of National Action Plan for Climate Change?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

Goals of National Action Plan for Climate Change:

National Solar Mission:

  • The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes: Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments; a goal of increasing production of photo-voltaic to 1000 MW/year; and a goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation. Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research centre, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.

National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency:

  • Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends: Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates; Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat:

  • To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for: Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code; A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste; Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and Incentives for the use of public transportation.

National Water Mission:

  • With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem:

  • The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.

National Mission for a “Green India”:

  • Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture:

  • The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change:

  • To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modeling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

Power Generation:

  • The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and supercritical technologies.

Renewable Energy:

  • Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.

Energy Efficiency:

  • Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labelling program for appliances has been introduced.




Project Elephant was launched by the Government of India in the year 1972 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Right OR Wrong?

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Right Statement:

  • Project Elephant was launched in the year 1992.

Enrich Your Learning:

  • Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with following objectives :
    • To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
    • To address issues of man-animal conflict
    • Welfare of captive elephants
  • It aims to provide financial and technical support of wildlife management efforts by states for their free ranging populations of wild Asian Elephants, and to ensure long-term survival of viable conservation reliant populations of elephants in their natural habitats by protecting the elephants, their habitats and migration corridors.
  • Other goals of Project Elephant are supporting research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating conservation awareness among local people, providing improved veterinary care for captive elephants.
  • Financial and Technical support are being provided to major elephant bearing States in the country.
  • The Project is being mainly implemented in 16 States / UTs , viz. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. 
  • Based on the proposals received in the form of Annual Plan of Operations, Government of India provides financial and technical assistance to State/UT Governments for wildlife protection under the various Centrally Sponsored Schemes – Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries, Project Tiger and Project Elephant. These funds are released after scrutiny of the proposals and also subject to the availability of funds and fulfillment of procedural requirements.
  • Till now 28 Elephant Reserves (ERs) extending over about 61830.08 sq km have been formally notified by various State Governments. Consent for establishment 2 more ERs – Khasi Elephant Reserve in Meghalaya and Dandeli Elephant Reserve in Karnataka has been accorded by MoEF&CC. Inclusion of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in Mysore Elephant Reserve has also been approved by the Ministry.  The concerned State Governments are yet to notify these ERs. 
  • Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme of CITES in 10 ERs since January 2004. It is mandated by COP resolution of CITES. Project Elephant was started in South Asia in 2003 with the following purposes:
    • To measure levels and trends in illegal hunting of elephants.
    • To determine changes in these trends over time.
    • To determine the factors causing or associated with these changes and to try and assess in particular to what extent observed trends are a result of any decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to CITES.
  • Data are collected from all sites on monthly basis in specified MIKE patrol form and submitted to Sub-Regional Support Office for South Asia Programme in Delhi who are assisting Ministry in implementation of the programme.

Main activities under the Project are:

  • Ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants;
  • Development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats and viable population of Wild Asiatic elephants in India;
  • Promotion of measures for mitigation of man elephant conflict in crucial habitats and moderating pressures of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats;
  • Strengthening of measures for protection of Wild elephant’s form poachers and unnatural causes of death;
  • Research on Elephant management related issues;
  • Public education and awareness programmes;
  • Eco-development
  • Veterinary care
  • Elephant Rehabilitation/Rescue Centres




What is Montreux Record?

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  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites of Ramsar wetlands.

Enrich Your Learning:

Montreux Record:

  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is a voluntary mechanism to highlight specific wetlands of international importance that are facing immediate challenges.
  • It is maintained as part of the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance.
  • As of 2017 only 2 Indian sites are listed under it they are, Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan and Loktak Lake in Manipur.
  • Chilika lake, Orissa is a Wetland site removed from the Montreux record due to the successful restoration of the site (factors like awareness, minimal use of anthropogenic activities which affects the wetland & improved technology to help in restoration of the wetland etc):

The Ramsar Convention:

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
  • It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
  • These Ramsar Sites acquire a new national and international status. They are recognized as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.
  • India currently has 26 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 689,131 hectares.




What is Ecological succession?

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Ecological succession is the gradual process by which ecosystems change and develop over time.

Enrich Your Learning:

  • Nothing remains the same and habitats are constantly changing. There are two main types of succession, primary and secondary;
  • Primary succession is the series of community changes which occur on an entirely new habitat which has never been colonized before. For example, a newly quarried rock face or sand dunes.
  • Secondary succession is the series of community changes which take place on a previously colonized, but disturbed or damaged habitat. For example, after felling trees in a woodland, land clearance or a fire.
  • Succession occurs on many different timescales, ranging from a few days to hundreds of years.

Other features of Ecological succession:

  • The species living in a particular place gradually change over time as does the physical and chemical environment within that area.
  • Succession takes place because through the processes of living, growing and reproducing, organisms interact with and affect the environment within an area, gradually changing it.
  • Each species is adapted to thrive and compete best against other species under a very specific set of environmental conditions. If these conditions change, then the existing species will be outcompeted by a different set of species which are better adapted to the new conditions.
  • The most often quoted examples of succession deal with plant succession. It is worth remembering that as plant communities change, so will the associated micro-organism, fungus and animal species. Succession involves the whole community, not just the plants.
  • Change in the plant species present in an area is one of the driving forces behind changes in animal species. This is because each plant species will have associated animal species which feed on it. The presence of these herbivore species will then dictate which particular carnivores are present.
  • The structure or ‘architecture’ of the plant communities will also influence the animal species which can live in the microhabitats provided by the plants.
  • Changes in plant species also alter the fungal species present because many fungi are associated with particular plants.
  • Succession is directional. Different stages in a particular habitat succession can usually be accurately predicted.
  • These stages, characterised by the presence of different communities, are known as ‘seres’.
  • Communities change gradually from one sere to another. The seres are not totally distinct from each other and one will tend to merge gradually into another, finally ending up with a ‘climax’ community.
  • Succession will not go any further than the climax community. This is the final stage.
  • This does not however, imply that there will be no further change. When large organisms in the climax community, such as trees, die and fall down, then new openings are created in which secondary succession will occur.
  • Many thousands of different species might be involved in the community changes taking place over the course of a succession. For example, in the succession from freshwater to climax woodland.
  • The actual species involved in a succession in a particular area are controlled by such factors as the geology and history of the area, the climate, microclimate, weather, soil type and other environmental factors.




What is crop rotation?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

  • Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons.
  • Crop rotation is the systematic planting of different crops in a particular order over several years in the same growing space.
  • This process helps maintain nutrients in the soil, reduce soil erosion, and prevents plant diseases and pests.
  • It is done, so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients.
  • There is no universally accepted rotation schedule as the types of plants in a particular farm or garden depend on the local soil, climate, and resources available.
  • The length of rotation time between different plants will also vary depending on the needs of the gardener.
  • It helps in reducing soil erosion and increases hence decreases in the same place for many years in a row (Monocropping) disproportionately depletes the soil of certain nutrients.
  • With rotation, a crop that leaches the soil of one kind of nutrient is followed during the next growing season by a dissimilar crop that returns that nutrient to the soil or draws a different ratio of nutrients.
  • In addition, crop rotation mitigates the build-up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped and can also improve soil structure and fertility by increasing biomass from varied root structures.
  • When a single crop is grown in one field for many years in a row, the crop will cause the depletion of particular nutrients from the soil. This depletion of nutrients leads to poor plant health and lower crop yield.
  • With crop rotation, particular nutrients are replenished depending on the crops that are planted. For example, a simple rotation between a heavy nitrogen using plant (e.g., corn) and a nitrogen depositing plant (e.g., soybeans) can help maintain a healthy balance of nutrients in the soil.
  • Crop rotation also prevents plant diseases and pests by exchanging crops that may be susceptible to a particular disease or pest with a crop that is not susceptible. For example, although corn is affected by corn rootworms, soybeans are not. The soybeans help suppress the pest so that the corn planted the following year will not be as adversely affected by it.
  • There is no limit to the number of crops in a rotation. Depending on the needs of the gardener, a larger rotation schedule may be implemented, and can include the rotation of animal feed crops like hay, clover, or oats.
  • Fields may also be used as animal pastures or allowed to lay fallow until the following year. For organic farms and gardens, crop rotation is essential as it helps limit the amount of fertilizers and pesticides normally required.




Name some locations or areas of India which have Coral Reefs?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

India’s major coral reef areas:

  • The major reef formations in India are restricted to the Gulf of Mannar, Palk bay, Gulf of Kutch, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep islands and Malvan.
  • Coral reefs are present in the areas of Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Coral eco-morphological maps were produced using satellite imageries for Andaman & Nicobar, Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar and Malvan areas are produced in 1:25,000 scales.
  • Tarkarli in Malwan, Maharashtra is a smaller reef. There are some coral reefs around small inlets in the western part of the Gulf of Khambat. Angria Bank is a coral reef off Vijaydurg in Maharashtra. There is a coral reef in Netrani Island in Karnataka. Shell reef in Gulf of Kutchis a shell shaped reef made from bio rock and decorated with coral in the deep waters of Gulf of Kutch, off the coast of Gujarat.
  • It helps Coral Polyps to get healed 20% faster than usual.




In context of bio-diversity, what do the terms ‘alpha’, ‘beta’, and ‘gamma’ diversity mean?

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  • Alpha diversity refers to the average species diversity in a habitat.
  • Beta diversity refers to the differences in species composition.
  • Gamma diversity is the measure of the overall number of species.

Enrich Your Learning:

The terms alpha, beta, and gamma diversity are used to describe the spatial component of biodiversity.

Alpha diversity:

  • Alpha diversity is just the diversity of each site (local species pool).
  • It refers to the average species diversity in a habitat or specific area.
  • Alpha diversity is a local measure, the number of species found in a particular area or ecosystem.
  • For example; Habitat X has 5 species of ants – Therefore, the alpha diversity for ants in this place is 5.

Beta diversity:

  • Beta diversity represents the differences in species composition among sites.
  • It refers to the ratio between local or alpha diversity and regional diversity. This is the diversity of species between two habitats or regions.
  • It is the variation of the species composition between two habitats or regions. It considers the alpha diversity of the habitats and the number of unique species on each habitat.
  • It is calculated by the following equation; (number species in habitat 1- number of species habitat 2&1 have in common) + (number of sp in H2- number of sp H1&2 have in common).

Gamma diversity:

  • Gamma diversity is the diversity of the entire landscape (regional species pool).
  • It is the total diversity of a landscape and is a combination of both alpha and beta diversity.
  • It is a measure of the overall number of species (the diversity) within a region. It is basically the sum of all the species of all habitats within the region of interest.




What is bio-digester? and what are the advantages of bio-digester?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

  • Bio-Digester is a decomposition mechanized toilet system which decomposes Human Excretory Waste in the digester tank using specific high graded bacteria further converting it into methane and water, discharged further to the desired surface.
  • The Bio-digester is total maintenance-free system, which does not require any sewage system. The inoculums bacteria used in these bio-digester procreate & generate new bacteria in an anaerobic environment & does not require repeat dosing.
  • The Bio-Toilet technology is based on anaerobic biodegradation of organic waste by unique microbial consortium and works at a wide temperature range. The bacterial consortium degrades night soil at temp as low as minus 20-degree C and produces colourless, odourless and inflammable gas containing 50 – 70% methane.
  • This bacterial consortium has been made through acclimatization, enrichment and bio-augmentation of cold-active bacteria collected from Antarctica and the other low temperature areas.

How does Bio-Digester work?

  • The Bio-digesters consist with 3 anaerobic chambers that treat Human wastes effectively. Because of its unique systematic structural arrangements, this system don’t require any cleaning or emptying the tank. In order to start with the very first chamber of this system where in the human waste get in from the toilet’s outlet, when the solid drop to the bottom of the tank, the high graded pre-residing bacteria (anaerobic bacteria) rushes their job or you can say eating away organic waste and decomposing entire occurring pathogens.
  • When the first chamber is filled, the water is flows to the second chamber where almost the same happens, except at this time many of the biological/solid/sludge matter has been left in the first chamber. Now, when the water flows towards third chamber, it is nearly about 90 % clean and therefore the final stage of digestion takes place.
  • The cleansing water is constantly going directly from the start point to the end point, till the water outs from the bio-digester. When the activated water finally comes out from bio-digester and into our irrigation pipelines, it is almost 98% clean and free from pathogens which is very harmful. Now the treated water is ready or safe to use for underground irrigation through pipes buried below the surface. But the first and foremost thing is the treated water should not be used for animal or human consumption, or for house cleaning without going through extra treatment.

Advantages of bio-digester:

  • It digests organic solids in an ecological way.
  • It prevents human waste and untreated water from contaminating groundwater.
  • It offers an alternative to dumping of wastes into rivers, lakes and fields in rural and semi-rural areas where there are no sewage systems.
  • The effluent (i.e. the water) can be used to water plants.
  • The effluent is cleaner, more effective and easier to use than a septic tank because it doesn’t need to be further cleaned or emptied.
  • The effluent is odourless, non-obnoxious, colourless as compared to the end products of the toilets being used these days.
  • It doesn’t require the work and energy involved in relocating composting toilets every year.
  • It is colourless, odourless and devoid of any solid particles
  • Requires no further treatment / waste management
  • It Can be used for irrigation purposes
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