Water Crisis

We need all water cleaning technologies to survive the water crisis

A mere 0.014% of all water on Earth is both fresh and easily accessible. Of the remaining water, 97% is saline and a little less than 3% is hard to access. Nevertheless, there is technically a sufficient amount of freshwater on a global scale for humanity to get by. However, some areas are very wet while others are very dry. Climate change is further worsening this unequal fresh water distribution. Added to this, industry has in the recent decades been driving a sharp rise in global freshwater demand, and humanity is now facing a water crisis, with demand expected to outstrip supply by 40% in 2030, if current trends continue.

Water scarcity is the lack of fresh water resources to meet water demand. It affects every continent, and in 2015 the World Economic Forum listed it as the largest global risk in terms of potential impact over the next decade. In 2016 it was on third place. Water scarcity is manifested by partial or no satisfaction of expressed demand, economic competition for water quantity or quality, disputes between users, irreversible depletion of groundwater, and negative impacts on the environment. One-third of the global population (2 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Half of the world’s largest cities experience water scarcity. We need all water cleaning technologies to solve this problem.

This projected scenario for the global water stress in 2030 shows that many regions, including China, the Middle East, and the United States of America will experience severe scarcity of drinkable fresh water in the future.
Projected water stress in 2030, Source: World Resources Institute

Physical and economical scarcity

Physical water scarcity results from inadequate natural water resources to supply a region’s demand. Around one fifth of the world’s population currently live in regions affected by physical water scarcity, where there is inadequate water resources to meet a country’s or regional demand, including the water needed to fulfill the demand of ecosystems to function effectively.  Arid regions frequently suffer from physical water scarcity. But not only arid regions experience scarcity:

In regions where there seems to be an abundance of water, humans frequently over-commit those resources. For example when irrigation infrastructure becomes over-developed and too demanding for an initially balanced ecosystem. Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater.

Economic water scarcity is caused by a lack of investment in infrastructure or technology to draw water from rivers, aquifers or other water sources, or insufficient human capacity to satisfy the demand for water. Economic water scarcity affects one quarter of the world’s population. Critical conditions often arise for economically poor and politically weak communities living in already dry environment. In countries suffering from water shortages water is the subject of economic speculation.

We have been and will fight for water

Clean – or even just fresh water – is even more important than oil. Here is a list over the conflicts related to water. Soon the oil will be replaced with other energy forms – but we can not replace water with anything else.

Human right, or is water a commercial product?

Providing water infrastructure around the world is an expensive an complex task—which is often taken for granted when it works.

The legislation is clear: The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights established a foundation of five core attributes for water security. They declare that the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

When it comes to drinking water it is big business. The bottled water industry is growing like no other – the need is growing and the profits are high. International beverage companies are buying access to aquifers and springs to build botteling plants and thereby making profits of off fresh water that initially should be a human right (even for those who can not afford to buy the water in bottles).

Why it is getting worse

Put these 3 factors together: 1) The worlds population is growing, so the water demand is growing. 2) The easy accessible fresh water is getting less and less (ice melting, over exploitation, global warming). 3) The fresh water that we have is getting more and more questionable for drinking (salt intrusions, chemicals from plastics, drugs and agriculture). This is why most of us will have to clean our drinking water, now and in the very near future.

This paper from February 2020 by Future Directions International has a short overview of how it looks now in near future.

And now some good news

Technology seems to be the go-to answer for our politicians. The numerous political efforts to cut CO2 does not work in reality: the CO2 particles in our atmosphere goes only one way – up.

The good news is that a number of companies, such as WaterStillar, are struggling to invent, develop and bring sustainable technologies to market that will actually help. Let us all hope that it is not too late.