As social scientists, economists, and environmentalists keep telling us, much of the world’s poor can be defined by their lack of adequate access to safe and potable water.
Says futurist Peter von Stackelberg, “By 2025, about 3.4 billion people will live in regions that are defined by the UN as water-scarce.”
Original article: here.
If we are indeed going to drown in drought, what solutions are available?
While much of the future of universal water depends on political and social activity, technological advances in three major areas will be critical for the hydrological future: desalination of seawater or brackish groundwater, purification of water containing chemical or biological contaminants, and conservation to cut demand.
*Flash Desalination: Using a source of high energy, sea water is heated till the vapor accumulates in a low-pressure chamber. Indian scientists have invented a low cost version of this which uses less energy.
In Beijing, the National Stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Games is designed with a nano-filtration system and underground pools that can capture and process up to 100 tons of rainwater an hour. Seattle’s King Street Center, a 327,000-square-foot commercial building constructed in 1999, captures rainwater for use in the building’s sewage system and for landscaping needs, saving about 1.5 million gallons of water a year.
*Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT):
This is one way to curb water usage. For instance, irrigation of residential landscapes typically applies 30-40% more water than needed. But a system that has been tested in California, Washington, and several other western states has linked sensors that monitor rainfall and soil moisture to a “smart” controller. Water consumption has decreased by an average of 26%, with some consumers cutting their usage by as much as 59%.
von Stackelberg stresses that there are three factors which will influence water availability in the future: low-cost power for desalination, nanowater (high-tech filtering), and green engineering, wherein zero wastewater from industrial facilities is achieved.
“A paradigm shift will be required if water shortages are to be avoided,” von Stackelberg says. Among these newer attitudes are the beliefs that human waste is a resource from which water can be harvested, and that storm water is a resource which needs to be captured and stored.
Though water usage is decried by most, I believe that it is impractical and perhaps unnecessary to do so. Surely, science will find a way out to make water widely available. After all, much of the planet is covered by oceans and seas. The problem, as I understand it, rests largely on how we can make sweet water from the sea.
Once again, the world will look to these solutions not from the laboratories of Cuban or Indian Governments, but the research centers of the First World, or private labs anywhere, including developing nations. After all, there is money to be made, Nobels to be won, and names to be immortalised if one can provide a solution to this global problem.
Nothing moves the world as much as