“We never know the worth of water until the well is dry.” – Thomas Fuller
The earth we live in is under a grave threat of water scarcity, while the water that is left is polluted and contaminated with toxic substances. This poses a great threat to us and our future generation. A quarter of a percent – that’s how much of the world’s water is usable right now, and it is far from enough!
The Biggest Threat To Water Sources: Contamination
Contamination is one of the biggest factors that is putting strain on water sources. Due to factories being built near water sources, all the toxic materials are being dumped into rivers. This is causing a catastrophe. The biggest example can be seen in the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
The Ongoing Lawsuit
Between 1953 and 1987, around a million people present at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were affected by toxic substances in the water that were caused due to spills from underground storage tanks and waste disposal. As a result, they were diagnosed with various ailments, including cancer.
It is still an ongoing case, and some of the best lawyers for the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit are currently fighting to get justice and settlement for the victims. Legal firms are investigating the facts of the case in order to strategize legal action against the defendants. Some of these law firms have won over $4 billion in monetary compensation for the victims. This estimate is enough to show the damage done by water contamination.
If not controlled, the current situation can lead to something similar or much worse. Industrial waste, vehicles releasing heavy metal pollutants, and seeping acid mine drainage result in contaminated water that is unsafe for most activities, much less for drinking.
Can Technology Help With Water Pollution?
According to UNESCO, by 2030, our planet is going to face a 40% shortfall in freshwater supply. We live in a time where we can predict our future and if we try, even change it. With technological advancements and growing awareness about this issue, is it possible to turn this situation around? Can we control water pollution with the help of technology?
Let’s have a look at some of the innovations.
1. The Old Way: Recycle And Reuse
This method has been around for a long time. However, what if there was a technological touch to it? Several municipalities across the world are now considering recycling wastewater into safe drinking water using advanced technologies.
California’s Orange County, for instance, is injecting treated water into the supply of more than 600,000 residents. The pollutants in the wastewater can be removed by means of chemical, physical, and biological treatment methods. With the use of modern tools, recycling, and reusing water have become convenient.
2. Analytical Chemistry To Remove Micro-Pollutants
When treating wastewater, the biggest technological challenge could be removing the micro-pollutants. However, with the help of analytical chemistry, we can now measure concentrations as down as parts per trillion. This is equivalent to a drop of dirt in 500,000 barrels of water. This innovation gives us a high degree of confidence in the quality of treated water.
3. Fixing Old Pipes
So much clean water gets wasted due to old, rusty pipes. While we are trying to control water pollution, it is important not just to create new systems but to preserve the old ones as well. In several countries, aging infrastructure is a major problem. 1.7 trillion gallons of treated drinking water is lost every year due to leaks in pipes in the U.S.
Modern technology can help us quickly locate trouble spots, which can help us treat old pipes to prevent further loss. Tools like smart water meters can pick up on changes in water use and notify in case of any issue. The data from these meters are combined with information from other sensors and then analyzed to identify any other issues.
4. Saving Water With Precision Irrigation
Agriculture accounts for 70% of the total freshwater consumption, so naturally, this is where the latest water technology can have the biggest effect. Precision irrigation can not only save water used in agriculture but also decrease the doses of herbicides and pesticides that can reduce further water pollution.
5. Sensor-based technology and Smart Sprinklers
Sensor-based technology can determine exactly when and how much water is needed for the crops, which reduces field water consumption. Smart sprinklers that are controlled through mobile apps can also be used to save water in domestic gardens. These technologies are rising quickly, and by 2025, the global micro-irrigation systems market is estimated to be three times more than $14.9 billion.
The United Nations, in its 2021 report, outlined that 2.3 billion people are living in water-stressed countries, and 733 million of them are in “high and critically water-stressed countries”.
With technological advancements and proper awareness, this problem can be tackled effectively before it does any further damage. Time and again, we have seen what water pollution and scarcity can result in. In order to deal with this, we must become proactive and use modern methods to save our planet.