How Can We Stop the Water Crisis?
Approximately 4 billion people—70 percent of the world’s population—experience water scarcity at least one month of the year.1 The United Nations estimate one in three people lack access to safe drinking water.2 With growing demands for water, shortages are expected to worsen in the coming years. According to a study by MIT, by 2050, half of the world’s population “may be living under at least moderately stressed water-resource conditions.”3 It’s a worldwide problem, but how can we stop the water crisis?
There’s not a single, simple answer to this question. It’s a widespread issue with many contributing factors.
However, there are several organizations working on ways to bring the water crisis to an end. Various companies are working on technological solutions to water shortages. Many of these solutions focus on harvesting or recycling the earth’s limited resources.
One concept to address water scarcity is to utilize the ocean’s vast water resources.
These waters, however, are unfit for human consumption. First, they must be desalinized. This process is expensive and can harm the environment.4 The development of desalination technology has made slow progress through the years, but it is slowly becoming a more viable option to provide drinking water.5
Some entrepreneurs have begun to tap into the expansive clean water resources of icebergs.6
Though they could provide millions of people with pure water, the process of transporting and harvesting icebergs comes with great challenges and risks, including providing sufficient insulation to prevent the ice from melting and potentially fatal accidents if the iceberg flips over in transmit.7
Micheal Mirilashvili and his Israel-based firm Watergen are looking to the skies for a solution to the water crisis.
The earth’s atmosphere contains 13 billion tons of fresh water, and developers at Watergen are working on technology to extract that water.8
Options to recycle water, including sewage water, are also being explored and utilized.
Some local water utility companies are installing water purification systems that allow wastewater to be reused. In El Paso, Texas, for example, the city’s water utility company is in the process of installing a water purification system that will eventually “treat and purify sewage water and pipe it back as natural water.”9 In countries such as Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, collected wastewater is already being treated to safe levels and reused.10
Improvements in local water infrastructure, agricultural practices and water conservation can also help diminish the worldwide water crisis.
Waterlogic lists several ways individuals can better steward water, including taking shorter showers, installing low-flow toilets, repairing leaks, collecting rainwater, reusing graywater and protecting wetlands.11
Other organizations are working to end the water crisis one family or community at a time by providing clean water for those in need. GFA World, which has been serving the “least of these” in places such as Asia since 1979, and more recently in Africa, has helped more than 38 million people through its clean water initiatives. This has been accomplished by installing Jesus Wells—which are dug deep below the surface to access underground aquifers and provide clean water for entire communities year-round—and by providing BioSand water filters, simple structures that remove 98 percent of biological impurities in areas where water supplies are sufficient in quantity but detrimental in quality.
1 Mekonnen, Mesfin M., and Arjen Y. Hoekstra. “Four billion people facing severe water scarcity.” Science Advances. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.1500323. February 12, 2016.
2 “Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/. Accessed December 8, 2021.
3 C. Adam Schlosser, Kenneth Strzepek, Xiang Gao, Arthur Gueneau, Charles Fant, Sergey Paltsev, Bilhuda Rasheed, Tony Smith-Greico, Élodie Blanc, Henry Jacoby, and John Reilly. MIT Joint Program. “The Future of Global Water Stress: An Integrated Assessment.” MIT Joint Program. https://globalchange.mit.edu/sites/default/files/MITJPSPGC_Rpt254.pdf. January 2014.
4 “Water scarcity: why our most precious resource is dwindling.” Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/water-scarcity-whats-the-big-deal/a-58840373. Accessed October 25, 2021.
5 Robbins, Jim. “As Water Scarcity Increases, Desalination Plants Are on the Rise.” https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-water-scarcity-increases-desalination-plants-are-on-the-rise. June 11, 2019.
6 Lisbona, Natalie. “Finding answers to the world’s drinking crisis.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654. August 2, 2021.
7 Lisbona, Natalie. “Finding answers to the world’s drinking crisis.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654. August 2, 2021.
8 Lisbona, Natalie. “Finding answers to the world’s drinking crisis.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654. August 2, 2021.
9 “Water scarcity: why our most precious resource is dwindling.” Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/water-scarcity-whats-the-big-deal/a-58840373. Accessed October 25, 2021.
10 Hofste, Rutger Willem, et. al. “17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World’s Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress.” World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/17-countries-home-one-quarter-worlds-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress. August 6, 2019.
11 “Water scarcity: why our most precious resource is dwindling.” Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/water-scarcity-whats-the-big-deal/a-58840373. Accessed October 25, 2021.