Is the water crisis a myth or a fact of life? With increasing population and rising temperatures, fresh water sources are under tremendous pressure.
About 97% of the water on planet earth is salt water and that leaves us with about 3% of freshwater out of which only around 1 or 2% is fit for human consumption. With increasing population and rising temperatures, fresh water sources are under tremendous pressure.
There are many factors that have served to create this water crisis. It would not be erroneous to say that the impending water crisis is largely manmade. Climate change due to global warming has affected almost all the countries. Rivers and lakes, the primary sources of freshwater, have run dry in many parts of the world. Although it is a renewable resource because of the hydrological cycle, the store of freshwater on earth is not infinite. Water once consumed cannot be replenished, unless it is recycled.
Global warming has led to droughts around the globe. Dry spells are rampant. The Greenhouse Effect is a well-known phenomenon. Fuel and other gas emissions into the atmosphere is the reason the Arctic is thought to be heating up faster than any other part of the planet. Droughts have become commonplace in places that have no history of water scarcity.
- California witnessed one of the worst droughts in recent history between the years 2011 and 2017. The death toll rose to 62 million people in 2016.
- The Millennium drought in Australia hit the island continent in 1995 and lasted till 2009. Desalination plants were built and grey water recycling done in some parts to combat the drought.
- Water used for irrigation is depleting the ground water in the north Indian states of Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan. The region lost about 108 cubic kilometres of groundwater.
It is evident from this data that the more the stress on available freshwater sources, the more susceptible the region will be to episodic droughts. Unsustainable usage of groundwater, primarily for agriculture, is also a reason for water scarcity in some parts of the world.
Another source of water drainage is leakage. Antiquated plumbing in most cities are leaking, most often unseen which is leading to fresh water wastage. Pipes that are exposed to both water and air corrode over time and that leads to holes & leaks. The old water distribution systems have weaker joints that burst due to the water pressure. Governments have to take notice and work towards refurbishing old pipes & water transporting networks to prevent leakages & wastage of water.
Water pollution is another big factor for which a lot of the available freshwater cannot be consumed. Industrial and human waste is dumped in rivers and lakes. It is estimated that the Ganges basin in India is depleting by 6.31 centimetres every year. This is happening because of the tremendous pressure on it to supply water for irrigation purposes and human consumption.
All of this can be taken care of and a lot of freshwater can be conserved and reused. However, it would need sophisticated technology, a lot of economic backup and political commitment on the part of the government. There is a need for a new source of Freshwater. AKVO Atmospheric Water Generators or AWGs could solve smaller needs. Granted that AWGs cannot supply fresh drinking water to whole countries but they can solve household and commercial problems on a small to medium scale. If the technology behind AWGs is adopted by the government, who knows what can be accomplished when it comes to saving groundwater. It could be the new source of fresh drinking water in the years to come.