Meeting Growing World Water Needs in a Dry Future

  • Odds are that if you’re reading this, you live in a country where drinkable water is available to you at any time and at low cost. It’s difficult to fathom that the very water that runs from your taps could become a rare commodity. However, many experts agree that in as little as fifteen years, 40% of the world will experience some form of drought. You might think that as bad as that sounds, it won’t affect you because you live in a developed country where we have always taken the availability of water for granted. But in those same 15 years, it’s expected that 40 out of the 50 states in the United States will experience drought and some of those will also be considered extreme.

    What may also be difficult to understand is why this is happening. Our planet’s surface is made up of mostly water, where 70% of it is considered ocean. So why can’t we simply use that for our needs? The water found in the world’s oceans is salt water and can’t be used for drinking or agriculture, as well as many other things that we use water for. This means that we need to rely on lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater, which make up only 1% of the world’s water. Considering the world’s population is expected to continue to grow at an exponential rate, already strained water resources will be further exhausted. The reservoirs that we have are becoming insufficient for our water needs and even places usually considered ‘safe’ from such an issue are themselves in trouble.

    Take for example the state of California. One of the largest states in the United States, California enjoys over 1300 kilometers of coastline yet none can easily be used as drinking water or for agriculture. There are 38 million residents in the state and California is also a major exporter of many types of foods to countries around the world. Despite being a part of one of the richest countries in the world, California is now in its fourth year of severe drought, with current reservoirs expected to last only a few years. Fortunately there are things that can be done to help with this problem which have been proven to be effective in countries like Israel. Israel has a much smaller population than the state of California and as little as ten years ago the country's economy was on the verge of collapsing as drought threatened its viability. Data also showed that the middle east was in the worst drought the area had experienced in over 1000 years. Yet despite this, Israel has thrived and now has a surplus of freshwater. How can it be that a country made up mostly of desert be one of the world’s water super powers?

    Things We Can Do

    So how do we solve this problem? Well, there are several things that we need to do. First, we all need to recognize that access to drinking water is a right that all people should have. Governments need to recognize this and pass the legislation that will make it so that this becomes a reality. Additionally, we need to all recognize that this is a growing issue and one that will quickly become one of the most pressing in the near future. We all need to take this seriously and all do our parts to help conserve this precious resource and not be wasteful.

    Desalination

    One of the core solutions that Israel employs are several desalination plants, one of which is the largest in the world. Desalination is usually considered to be very energy intensive as the reverse osmosis method requires extreme pressures to push the salt water through membranes that will remove the salt from the water. However, in addition to being the biggest plant in the world, it’s also considered the cheapest due to the materials used at this particular plant. Desalination now provides 80% of the drinking water used by the country where as recent as 2004 Israel relied on rainwater and aquifers entirely.

    Using Drip Irrigation for Agricultural Needs

    When a drip irrigation system is used for watering plants, farmers will save 30 to 50% of the water they would have used to water their crops had they used normal sprinkler systems. Research has also shown that plants are happier and less stressed and will yield more fruit and vegetables when a drip irrigation system is used. By watering the roots of only the plants you want to grow, you can also reduce the number of weeds that grow in your crops as well.

    Becoming an Expert

    Drought is expected to be a major issue with many countries of the world in the years to come and it’s important to have people with the knowledge to continue to solve these problems. This means that we will need to have people with the right knowledge and from many different educational backgrounds working together. A need for electromechanical technicians, water treatment plant operators, and desalination plant workers are some of the careers that will help mitigate this growing issue. In many cases, companies that work on helping solve the water crisis will prefer that potential employees have a certificate of completion which can oftentimes be obtained by completing Online Technology Courses.

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