Today, drinking- and wastewater treatment systems in Arctic regions are under serious pressure. The wastewater treatment ranges from the application of mechanical treatment plants to passive treatment systems consisting of waste stabilization ponds (WSPs), natural or engineered wetlands, and composting or bucket toilets. In many of the poorer communities’ human excreta/wastewater receives no treatment at all. Melting permafrost zones add increasing vulnerability to physical structures and community-based water services.
Poor sanitary conditions often combined with inadequate water supply give rise to (enteric, skin and respiratory) health problems that compound with Arctic environmental health issues.
Discharge of wastewater into the vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic may also require different technologies or system designs than those used in warmer climates. Currently, limited information exists about water handling facilities in the Arctic, resulting in considerable uncertainties about the performance and environmental sustainability of existing or potentially different future systems. Changing paradigms aspiring to closed-loop systems and economies also need to be considered for water and sanitation services, such as resource recovery for energy, nutrients and water – yet many institutional and governance barriers inhibit this change.
This knowledge platform facilitates a scenario-based exploration and application of scientific and administrative knowledge for the sound development of suitable solutions for decentralized water treatment technologies under the harsh climate conditions of the Arctic.