SEATTLE — It has been recognized that poor economic management and inadequate infrastructure to harness one of the most abundant resources on the earth has plunged the world into a situation of perpetual water scarcity. As it stands, approximately 750 million people around the world do not have access to clean water.
This situation prompted world leaders to develop the sixth Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) which seeks to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
At the 2016 World Water day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for bold action to address water inequality. Highlighted are some of the bold, innovative clean water solutions that organizations are developing in order to ensure the sixth SDG is met.
Waste to Water Solutions
Systems which recycle human waste and sewage to water are already operational. The Treehugger blog reports of one such system installed on the island of Pulau Seringat in Singapore. The system generates approximately 2500 gallons of water using a three-step process to convert sewage to water.
Seattle Engineering firm, Janicki, developed an Omniprocesser that converts human waste directly to clean water. The safety of the water was confirmed by billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates, who drank it and affirmed that he would happily drink it every day.
Approximately 99 percent of the water on earth is not drinkable. Desalination is the solution to purifying sea water or salt water for human consumption.
Uptake of the technology has largely been limited by the high costs of the desalination process. However, arid countries are finding that it is a necessary solution.
According to the International Desalination Association, the largest desalination plant in the world in Saudi Arabia produces 273 million gallons of drinking water per day while in Israel, a quarter of the nation’s water supply is generated from desalination.
Personal Filter Straws
These are handy small-scale technologies that allow individuals to drink water from just about any source with the exception of salt water.
The technology works by passing water through an extremely fine medium which traps dirt and bacteria within its pores producing clean and drinkable water.
The personal filter straws remove up to 99 percent of bacteria and contaminants in water.
This is one water harvesting technique that is not new to mankind. In the Andes for example, the Inca Empire generated water from harvesting fog from the cloud forests in the Andes by building fog fences above the rain line. The Inca’s then condensed the fog into usable water.
The practice is still alive and well in Chile and has received a technology boost from the Mechanical Engineering Department of MIT. There are now modern fog fences which collect water for agricultural and drinking water use.
Harvesting water from thin air
Eole is a company that is literally making water out of thin air. Modern Technology now allows for atmospheric water to be harvested from very dry regions around the globe. In the United Arab Emirates for example, Eole has installed atmospheric water generating turbines that harvest up to 16 gallons of fresh water from the atmosphere per hour.
The company has also developed home and office atmospheric water generators that are capable of providing seven gallons of clean water every day.
Bicycle Water Purifiers
When you combine a bicycle and a water purifier you obtain a simple technology through which people in remote villages can access clean water. This is what Nippon Basic, a Japanese organization had in mind when they developed the bicycle water purifiers.
Water can be harnessed directly from the source and cleaned as a cyclist peddles. The water passes through a system of micro-filtration membranes before it is stored in a container.
Solar stills have the dual capacity to desalinate and decontaminate water.
The simple solution involves harnessing the power of the sun to distill water in order to generate portable, clean water. It was originally developed for military and survivalist usage where holes were dug into the ground and covered with a sheet of plastic.
Aquamante is a company that develops refined small-scale solar stills that come in portable packages and are capable of distilling water from a variety of sources. In conditions of adequate sunlight, the Aquamante solar stills can produce two liters of clean water a day.
Accumulating rainwater from surfaces on which it falls and subsequently storing it is a practice that has been carried out by humans for centuries.
It is a useful way of reducing reliance on municipal water supply systems and providing water in remote rural areas that may not be connected to conventional water supply.
Smart Irrigation Controllers
This is a technology that improves water use efficiencies of irrigation systems, by enabling owners to create an efficient water schedule to keep plants healthy and remotely control their systems using smart devices.
It is particularly useful in water stressed areas where it enables the conservation of the limited water resources.
Plumbers Without Borders
Following the Haitian earthquakes in 2010 local Seattle plumbers and members of the Northwest Washington and Cascade Chapters of IAPMO announced the formation of Plumbers Without Borders.
The volunteer-driven initiative provides organizations committed to increasing safe water and sanitation with plumbers and mechanical trade persons to improve their operations.