If There Is Water, There Is Tomorrow

If There Is Water, There Is Tomorrow

By Girish Iyer, Director, Suez-Water Technologies & Solutions, 0

Girish boasts of having over 26 years of experience working with Ion Exchange, Metito, TPSC Engineering, GE, and SUEZ, and specializes in Engineering & Contracts Management for large Drinking Water, Waste Water, Ultra Pure Water and Zero Liquid discharge projects.

Water is the most important resource on this planet! Nothing is more critical to the success of a society than its ability to supply water where it is needed, when it is needed. With 4.8 billion(55 percent) people are living in urban areas today globally, this number is projected to grow exponentially to 68 percent of world population will be living in urban areas. The impact of climate change on water availability cannot be overemphasized, with droughts and flash floods becoming the new normal. Mass exploitation of ground water due to rapid and unorganized urbanization has resulted in cities going dry.

The good news is, earth has enough water for everyone. However the bigger question is to figure-out who should pay for it, how much and to whom? Recently, we witnessed cities of Cape Town and Chennai running dry and people resorting to bottled water for their daily use. Rain water is pure and free tap water is relatively inexpensive, and bottled water is a thousand times expensive than tap water.

Soon, the valuation of cities, homes and people's worth will be co-related to their access to clean fresh water and aquifers, thus defining a new status symbol and consequently triggering intense competition to possess the most valuable resource. The day is not far when conveyance allowance will be replaced by Hydration allowance in salary slips. Water Security should be our biggest focus, as it directly impacts food security and with it the very existence of human life.

How can we be more responsible and ensure affordable clean water is available to all?
The crux of the issue is to Conserve, Recycle, Utilize and Extract(CRUX) in that order. Today, we are in the XUV mode (Extract, Utilize and Waste). How can we make CRUX a part of our life?

Conserve: Lima is a desert city with very little rainfall. Just over 1cm falls every year, which is a tiny amount considering that the Peruvian capital has eight million
residents. In 2007, Lima's public officials wisely decided that to cope with severe water shortages, and they needed the urban population to be tuned into those issues.

The initiative targeted 12-30 year olds after a study of the age group showed that awareness of the problem was very low. A national writing competition for school children was held and the 50 best stories about water were published on World Water Day in 2014 in a book which translates as `Myths and Legends of Eater in Peru'. A full time schools officer is now employed to help schools throughout Lima to provide good quality education about water issues.

Water security should be our biggest focus, as IT directly impacts food security and with IT the very existence of human life

Recycle & Utilization for Non Potable Use and Indirect Potable Reuse: Namibia, an arid country in southern Africa, is plagued by drought and water scarcity. But, it's also a country that continues to make progress in wastewater recycling. The city's only solution was to do what hadn't been done anywhere else before take water directly from the sewage treatment plant and treat it until it's safe enough to drink. Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, started using treated sewage as drinking water way back in 1968 till date successfully.

While acceptance of treated sewage for drinking could receive significant public apprehension, effective treatment and recycling of treated waste water for non-potable purposes like agriculture and industrial purposes could free up the fresh water to be utilized for drinking purposes.

In Singapore, treated waste water (NEWater) is injected into reservoirs to allow it to mix with rain water before being collectively treated at the water treatment plants for potable use. Over the years, PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency has expanded NEWater supply capacity to meet up to about 40 percent of Singapore's total water demand. Future plans aim to increase NEWater capacity to meet up to 55 percent of total water demand by 2060.

Extract: After conserving, recycling and utilizing the available water resources optimally, extraction of fresh water from the sea by desalination could be resorted tom to cover up the shortfall. Sea water desalination though energy intensive is a viable option, if it is applied judiciously after carrying out all of the above measures.

Remember we only have a limited stock of fresh water. Every drop counts. We can mint and earn money. The only way to generate more water sustainably is by conserving it. The more you save it, the more you'll have it!