‘Water is life’ has been the popular phrase used to describe the core foundation of humanity’s existence on this planet. Clearly, If earth’s inhabitants are to face water shortage, that will be a threat to both human and animal life. In an ideal environmental setup, the world would receive sufficient rainfall during the wet season and the balance maintained by evaporation rates in the summer. The world has brought in new phenomena to an existing natural system, and the changes affect the availability of clean water.
Water supply across the globe is strained due to a number of factors, with the majority of those factors being enacted by human activities. Major culprits affecting clean water supply include climate change, industrialization, overpopulation, intense scientific experiments, global emissions, and global conflicts. Since most of the weather patterns are continuously changing and the looming in of global warming, access to safe drinking water is proving to be a challenge for many people. The primary water source was rainfall, but either the amount received is low or too much causing flooding. Some areas, especially those dominated by mega factories and industrial establishments, receive sulphuric and nitric rain, termed ‘acid rain.’
Such occurrences are a huge upset to people, and it is believed that about a quarter of the human population cannot access clean and safe water for drinking. This translates to around two billion people finding it difficult in acquiring a reliable water source. The emerging technological advancements enable people to develop innovative methods of harnessing safe and clean water from the environment. Some tech companies have dedicated their time and resources towards saving mankind from a ‘clean water’ shortage pandemic.
Currently, Michael Mirilashvili is making significant strides when it comes to obtaining clean water from the atmosphere. Mr. Mirilashvili is the head of Watergen, a company operating in Israeli that introduced the ‘air to water’ strategy to deliver drinking water to periphery world areas marred by climate change or heated conflicts. Mirilashvili’s actions are motivated by the importance of water to humans. In explaining his plans, he said, “Water is a basic human right, and yet millions don’t have access to it,” so he sought to cater to the remote populations living in the most affected places.
‘Air to water’ technology entails how water vapor is filtered out of the air by Watergen machines. Weather analysis depicts that the earth’s atmosphere contains about 13 billion tonnes of fresh water, so it is a reliable, cheap, and easily accessible water source. According to Mirilashvili, his firm’s technology can aid most communities across the globe if it`s properly funded. He added that “A big advantage of using atmospheric water is that there’s no need to build water transportation, so no worries about heavy metals in pipes for example or cleaning contaminated water from the ground or polluting the planet with plastic bottles” [Source].
Watergen addresses the problems most countries face in terms of purifying contaminated water or cleaning water storage units. Many governments have resorted to investing in purification processes so that the water can be recycled and used again. This is an expensive method and the most popular one, but it produces problems whereby residents get dirty water from taps leading to diseases. World Health Organization’s report depicts how more than a million people can only access contaminated water, putting those residents at risk of illness with cholera and typhoid. Such diseases lead to an estimated 500 000 deaths annually [Source].
Watergen pilot programs in Gaza strip hospitals, Central Africa’s villages, and Australia proved to be a huge success as the Watergen machine can produce 6 000 liters of water daily, which is sufficient for many small societies. Other concerned researchers highlighted the dangers of getting water from polluted air, especially given the current global emissions levels. But scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel discovered that it is possible to extract clean drinking water even in urban areas where air pollution is rampant.
Other companies resorted to finding clean water from various icebergs, which contain freshwater. This is now a common trade in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. Abdulla Al-Shehi, an entrepreneur and environmentalist, collaborating with the UAE in the iceberg project, said, “On average a gigantic iceberg can provide a million people water for 3-5 years” and added that “So why not take advantage of what nature can offer us? I hope one day to bring icebergs to the Arabian Peninsula.”
Iceberg projects are highly expensive, with the UAE small start-up project pegged between $60-80 million and the total project estimated to be between $150-200 million, as contended by Mr. Al-Shehi.
Some nations are providing clean water to their citizens from the oceans. Desalination is the most utilized method of removing salt from the saltwater in the world’s oceans. This is an effective way of providing water as according to Dupont, a water provider company. The company’s various plants process 25 million US gallons (94 million liters) of water per minute. In a plant, seawater passes through a filter which separates the salt, and two outwards channels are created whereby the other one contains drinkable water, and another will have salts. The salts channel is directed back to the sea with no negative impact on the ecosystem.
However, older desalination plants are still causing damage by pumping brine back to the sea, reducing oxygen levels while increasing the salts. More so, desalination is criticized for using a huge amount of energy when processing water and needs to be lighted by fossil fuels which in turn pollutes the air, which emissions. Most undeveloped nations continue to dig wells and drill boreholes to find water [Source] because they cannot afford to ferry icebergs or desalinate seawater, while many are landlocked.
All these solutions are commendable in improving the water situation, but strategies with little or no negative effects on the environment must be recommended so that the planet’s resources are conserved for future generations. The invention of safe methods to curb the problem of water crisis must be the focal point of most scientific research before the crisis escalates.