Laundry Waste Kills Fish and Causes Flood

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Illustration by Jawa Pos

One of the unresolved environmental problems is wastewater. Wastewater does not only come from large industrial activities but also household (domestic) activities or micro and medium enterprises. One kind of business that produces wastewater but has not managed the waste optimally is household-scale laundry business. One of the effects of laundry wastewater comes from phosphate (ion form of phosphorus) as a detergent constituent. The potential impact that arises is the fertilization of water bodies (eutrophication), which is characterized by the emergence of many aquatic plants such as water hyacinth and algae in the rivers around us. The emergence of uncontrolled water plants will cause new problems such as the death of fish, the emergence of unpleasant odors, and even increase the potential for flooding due to the waterways clogging. So it is necessary to make wastewater treatment efforts to minimize the negative impact on water bodies.

From the data obtained from laundry wastewater sampling in the area of ​​East Surabaya, it shows that the phosphate content reaches 10.067 mg / L, where it slightly exceeds the maximum limit allowed to be discharged to the river which is at 10 mg / L. Based on East Java Governor Regulation Number 72 of 2013 concerning Waste Water Quality Standards for Industrial Activities and/or Businesses. Laundry wastewater treatment needs to be done to reduce phosphate content in wastewater before disposal. One alternative that can be applied is using the Constructed Wetlands method. This method is a bit uncommon when it is associated with wastewater treatment, but it is a fairly easy method by making wastewater treatment through artificial parks and utilizing plants as wastewater treatment agents. Constructed Wetlands are suitable to use because the costs are quite cheap and easy to do.

Constructed wetlands method uses Equisetum hymale plants or better known as water bamboo as a wastewater treatment agent. Water bamboo in the study was planted in pots with soil media then laundry wastewater was poured on bamboo water plants. Periodically laundry wastewater is removed from the ducts at the bottom of the pot. The water is already treated wastewater. The results of the analysis showed phosphate content in treated water was decreased to no more than 0.5 mg / L, or processing efficiency reaches more than 95%. The phosphate can be utilized by bamboo water in its growth process. It can be seen from the increasing concentration of phosphorus in the stems and roots of water bamboo. The accumulation of phosphorus in the bamboo stem increased from 38.81 mg/kg to 44.73 mg/kg dry weight. Meanwhile, at the root of water bamboo, it increases from 220.98 mg/kg to 241.37 mg/kg dry weight. Furthermore, increasing phosphorus elements also found in the planting media, in the soil. Based on the adsorption analysis, a process that contributes to the allowance is not only physical such as sediment but also chemical in the presence of a reaction between elements contained in the planting media with phosphate or absorption by plants.

The results show that laundry wastewater treatment using constructed wetlands with water bamboo can be used as an alternative to processing laundry wastewater, which serves to reduce phosphate content. From an economic standpoint, the installation does not cost much, only in the form of pots, soil as a planting medium, and water bamboo plants. Furthermore, wastewater treatment using constructed wetlands with water bamboo provides other ecological benefits such as providing beauty value, especially if it is integrated with other plants in the laundry business yard. Quoting the phrase “cleanliness is a part of faith,” laundry businesses that have made our clothes clean must also keep the river and environment clean.

Author: Febri Eko Wahyudianto, S.T., M.T.

Details of research available at:,108919,0,2.html

Febri Eko Wahyudianto, Nur Indradewi Oktavitri, Sucipto Hariyanto (2019). Kinetics of Phosporus Removal from Laundry Wastewater in Constructed Wetlands with Equisetum hymale. Journal of Ecological Engineering. 20(6): 60-65.

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