Nature-Based Solutions

While the emphasis in the sanitation space, as well as in the threat mitigation space, has been on grey infrastructure, there is a growing body of examples of nature-based solutions that yield benefits beyond wastewater treatment. Nature-based solutions can take a range of forms and include not only treatment technologies, but also natural infrastructure that can protect coastal treatment plants and septic systems from flooding and storm surge. For example, living shorelines addressing flooding that compromises wastewater treatment. By restoring habitats that naturally protect coastlines from flooding and storm surge, improvements in important economic activities such as fishing and tourism can result. In addition, horizontal flow treatment wetlands can be used for secondary and tertiary wastewater treatment, and can also support biodiversity, recreation and provide water for reuse in agriculture. A more comprehensive guide of nature-based solutions for sanitation managers was released by a SNAPP working group in 2021.

Here we detail a few examples of nature-based solutions, but there are many others to explore.