Water, a vital resource for survival of all living organisms, is also one of the most misused and abused of our natural resources. So much so that several parts of the world are facing acute water shortage and an uncertain future. In fact, water is famously quoted to be the ‘new oil.’
Water Supply and Demand Threats
Threats have increased at both supply and demand fronts. One of the major supply side threats is that we are withdrawing freshwater from surface water sources faster than they can be replenished. Another issue is the degradation of water, making it unsuitable to fulfil human needs. The increasing global population is a major demand side issue, the other being a substantial part of the population concentrated in regions that fail to keep up with demand levels. Lack of laws and proper regulation to monitor usage and consumption by individuals and industries are also creating an unhealthy balance in water distribution.
It is widely known yet often ignored, that if we continue to abuse water resources, our survival on the planet is at risk. Lakes are disappearing, the number of drought-prone regions around the world is increasing, and more and more countries are becoming water insecure. It is time that we become more conscious about these valuable resources to avert an irreversible water crisis for our future. Some individuals and companies have taken up the challenge and devised innovative solutions to beat the water crisis.
Solar Powered Water Purification System
Hot and dry climate are most prone to water shortages and whatever little water they do receive is deemed unfit for drinking. This drove a 16 year old American schoolgirl to use solar energy for purifying water. She exposed titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to the sun’s UV radiation which produced a photo catalytic composite that purifies the water. This technology is safe, clean, green and cost effective. It is adopted widely by regions in USA experiencing hot and arid climates.
The lifesaver bottle used widely by welfare aid companies, hikers and army contingents was invented to solve the problem of dirty drinking water. The lifesaver bottle uses a narrow pump which forces water through a filter of about 15-nanometres, killing all bacteria and viruses in the process. It has been a successful, cost-effective way of making available water suitable for daily consumption saving the financial and environmental struggle of delivering water to the remotest of places. Following the success of the lifesaver bottle, water treatment companies are also coming up with similar inventions on a grander scale to improve the quality of drinking water.
Leak Monitoring System
Utility companies are now using leak monitoring software to identify leaks and repair them. These software packages send data to a central hub about pipeline conditions, existing and potential leaks and areas that need urgent attention. Leak monitoring systems have saved millions of gallons of water from being wasted even before they reach homes or industries.
Water Efficient Showers
Most of us turn on the shower and let the temperature equalize before stepping in. In these few seconds or minutes, we waste good quality fresh water which could be used efficiently for some other purpose. There have been several inventions to minimize this wasteful practice. An eco-friendly shower system called Ogishower warms the water to the desired temperature in less than 30 seconds reducing shower time and water wastage significantly. Another device, the Cullector Ultra Efficient Shower, collects the running water and feeds it back into the system and re-filters it at the right temperature.
Dry bathing is relatively new yet fast emerging as an alternative to showers. It saves several litres of water and is one of the most efficient ways to conserve water. It mainly involves applying a lotion rich in essential oils, odour eliminating agents and bioflavonoids. It is estimated that dry bathing can save four litres of water per person per day, totalling to many millions of litres per year.
Water is used extensively for industrial applications as a cleaning agent which results in wastage of millions of litres of fresh water. A cheaper, greener solution involves using solid carbon dioxide in the form of dry ice particles to clean different types of surfaces. CO2 can be obtained from other industrial uses, therefore, it is inexpensive and can help to save significant amounts of water.
All nations, developed and developing, are facing the pangs of scarce water. It is as much a global issue as it is a domestic one. Creating more alternatives, using water intelligently and recycling are some of the ways to address the situation. Conserving our planet and environment is an individual responsibility. Stricter laws and regulation can play a supervisory role but ultimately it waters down to individual sensitivity and sensibility.