10 Possible Solutions to Global Water Shortages
By Space Coast Daily // November 14, 2021
Seventy percent of the surface of our planet is covered by water, so it’s easy to assume there’s plenty of it to drink, cook, and bathe in. Let’s throw out that assumption with the bathwater.
There is less than three percent of freshwater on earth, and the majority of that freshwater is not accessible. People in many parts of the world are dependent on extremely limited water resources because of this.
Water is essential to our survival, but we also contribute to the rise of water scarcity. Numerous factors threaten the health of rivers, lakes, and other bodies of freshwater, many of which are caused by human activity.
The list includes pollution, climate change, industrial agricultural practices, unsustainable energy production, and population growth. More and more people around the world are facing water shortages as a result.
We can develop solutions to mitigate the rise in water scarcity even though water scarcity is primarily a man-made phenomenon. Discover how to reduce water scarcity and some of the exciting ways people are doing it.
What is Water Scarcity?
The term water scarcity refers to a lack of access to the water resources required to sustain a region. It refers both to human activities such as drinking and cooking, and to the healthy functioning of an ecosystem.
Scarcity of water can range from a challenging but manageable situation such as in the Greater London area or the High Plains in the U.S. to a full-blown crisis like in Flint, MI or Durban, South Africa.
In terms of the human experience of water scarcity, there are two types: physical scarcity and economic scarcity. As you might expect, physical water scarcity refers to a shortage of water resources compared to demand. Economic water scarcity refers to the lack of financial resources to access, store, or distribute water to homes, businesses, and so on.
It’s easy to feel disconnected from water scarcity if you grew up with unlimited access to water resources. However, water scarcity is becoming increasingly alarming on every continent.
What causes water scarcity
At least two-thirds of the world’s population-four billion people-live with severe water scarcity at least one month each year, according to a 2016 study.
Also, 500 million people live in areas where humans consume water at twice the rate it is replenished by rain, especially in China and India. Those regions that fall into this category are all but guaranteed to face severe water shortages due to global warming and other factors in the future.
According to the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is now regarded as one of the top five biggest threats to humanity and human economics. Besides India and China, dozens of other countries are affected,
including Great Britain, Australia, Mexico, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Water scarcity manifests differently in different areas, but it has a number of predictable effects.
Water scarcity Effects
Among the ramifications of the water crisis are:
1. Hunger, poverty and education
As well as dehydration due to a lack of drinking water, hunger is one of the most serious effects of water scarcity. How? A lack of water has a direct impact on crops and livestock, which can lead to food shortages and eventually starvation. In addition, some people are unable to take a shower, wash their clothes, or clean their homes due to water shortages.
In the poorest countries, some children cannot attend school because they are either too sick or they have to walk a long way to reach water. Despite being able to attend, many children cannot learn because of fatigue, heavy responsibilities, and worries about their families.
2. Sanitation issues and diseases
Water scarcity contributes to sanitation problems by forcing people to drink unsafe water. As a result, people tend to store water at home when water is scarce, which increases the risk of domestic water contamination and creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which transmit dengue and malaria.
Other diseases caused by lack of water include trachoma (an eye infection that can cause blindness), plague, and typhus.
Access to water has become a powerful economic issue that could lead to international tension. Over scarce water resources, conflicts – sometimes leading to warfare – occur. Due to the growing global population and growing needs, these tensions could multiply in the future.
4. Biodiversity loss
Water scarcity has different negative effects on rivers, lakes, and other freshwater resources. It damages the environment in several ways, including increasing salinity, nutrient pollution, and the loss of floodplains and wetlands. Water scarcity threatens ecosystems and biodiversity (e.g. freshwater fish).
5. Lack of access to safe, clean drinking water
People’s lives are at stake when they can’t access clean water for drinking, farming, and washing. Every year, 842,000 people die from diarrhea due to unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation practices. In developing countries, 80 percent of illnesses are caused by unhealthy water and/or sanitation systems, and one out of four deaths among children under five are related to water.
6. Threatened ecosystems
The effects of water scarcity on wildlife and flora are severe. Water filtration, storm protection, and flood control services typically provided by wetlands are being lost with the rapid disappearance of wetlands. In total, the world has lost 50 percent of its wetlands since 1900, and no place is immune. Even places like California, Florida, and Louisiana have seen wetlands disappear at high rates.
7. Unhealthy economies and increased poverty
People will spend excessive amounts of time obtaining water when it is hard to reach. It means people are not free to invest in education and careers, among other things, and this affects both individuals and countries. According to the World Bank, water scarcity can reduce GDP by up to 14 percent.
8. Decreased food access and higher food costs
Water becomes more expensive as it becomes scarcer. As a result, food crops are more expensive to produce, which in turn raises the price of food in local grocery stores and markets. A mere ten percent rise in the cost of water, for example, could increase the production cost of an orange by thirty percent. Consequently, farming becomes more difficult and access to healthy food decreases, which has implications for public health.
9. Higher costs for clothing, electronics and other consumer goods
Water consumption in the fashion and electronics industries is notoriously high. As water becomes more expensive, a variety of products become more expensive to produce. Access to clothing, phones, and more could become more difficult.
Amazing Solutions to Water Scarcity
1. Developing water filtration systems
It’s one thing to have access to water, but it’s another to have access to water that is safe to drink. Effective water filtration systems ensure freshwater is put to good use rather than making us sick.
As a result, companies across the globe are developing sophisticated water filtration systems that produce purified water free of bacteria, microbes, and other contaminants, and bringing this drinkable water to as many schools, hospitals, workplaces, and homes as possible.
The device was designed to capture air moisture, condense it, and store it as drinking water. A Solar Cell-Powered Device, Fontus can gather up to 0,8 liters of water in an hour, depending on climatic conditions.
2. Promoting water stewardship
The threat of water scarcity must be reduced by every community in the world. The world needs water stewards in every form now more than ever. When it comes to limiting water shortages, water stewardship is a large part of the puzzle, whether it’s taking shorter showers and installing low flow toilets at home, reusing graywater at schools and offices, or reducing leaks and inefficiencies at businesses.
3. Protecting wetlands
Remember when we said that wetlands are natural water filtration systems? Therefore, they play an important role in collecting and purifying water. Wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate, but conserving wetlands could be advantageous. Currently, more than 2,000 wetlands are protected by the Ramsar Convention. To reduce water scarcity, we need more aggressive conservation measures.
4. Improving irrigation efficiency
One of the biggest drains on water resources is industrial agriculture. The agricultural sector could save enormous amounts of water by switching from flood irrigation systems to sprinklers or drip irrigation systems. Combined with improved soil management practices, such as no-till or limited tillage and mulching, which reduces evaporation from the soil, more efficient irrigation systems can significantly reduce water usage.
5. Increasing water storage in reservoirs
Droughts and floods are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change. If we increase the reservoir capacity, we can capture and store floodwater, preventing its loss to the ocean, where it becomes salinated and harder to treat. The stored water can be used during droughts. Several states (such as California and Wyoming) are considering enlarging or building new reservoirs.
6. Desalinating seawater
The technologies involved in seawater desalinization are new but promising. The process involves converting seawater into freshwater suitable for drinking, cooking, bathing, and more. According to the researchers, increasing the number of seawater desalination plants by 50-fold would significantly reduce water scarcity. Desalination is energy-intensive, so it’s important that these energy sources are sustainable so they don’t add to water scarcity.
Even though the topic of water scarcity may seem daunting, there is a lot of hope. The future of our planet and its water resources is not sealed. We can ensure people will be able to rely on healthy water sources for decades to come if we invest in reducing water scarcity together.
People can take advantage of many opportunities to learn more about the world around them. Educating those who don’t deal with water scarcity can put them in a position to help. Those who are experiencing it can be educated on how they can prevent it from getting worse.
8. Recycle Water
There are plenty of technologies available that allow you to recycle rainwater and other water that you may be used in your home. Consider learning about how you can recycle water. Not only does it help to prevent scarcity, but it can save you some money as well.
Harvesting rainwater and recycling wastewater reduce scarcity and ease pressure on groundwater and other natural water bodies. Water can move from surface water to groundwater through recharge, which is a well-known method of preventing water scarcity.
9. Support Clean Water Initiatives
All over the world, there are organizations that are working to provide clean water to areas that lack it. Donate your time, your skills, or your finances (whichever you can afford to donate) to these organizations.
10. Sustainable water management
Water infrastructure improvement must be prioritized since water conservation and efficiency are key components of sustainable water management. Smart irrigation systems and solar desalination are excellent examples of clean technology that can be used for water efficiency and control. Obviously, that applies even more to agriculture and farming, the largest consumers of water.
What can you do?
Water is essential to our survival, but we also contribute to the rise of water scarcity. Numerous factors threaten the health of rivers, lakes, and other bodies of freshwater, many of which are caused by human activity. The list includes pollution, climate change, industrial agricultural practices, unsustainable energy production, and population growth. More and more people around the world are facing water shortages as a result.
Water scarcity is primarily a result of human activity, but we can develop solutions to mitigate its effects.
As you can see, there are a lot of things that we need to consider when we’re thinking about water scarcity and what we can do about it. Taking this issue as a whole, and working hard to ensure that we can make a difference when it comes to this widespread issue, we’ll be in a much better position to prevent its escalation.