The world is now on the brink of a global water crisis, with many regions already experiencing droughts of historic proportions. This water shortage has many implications for how everyone on Earth lives, eats, works, and plays.
While such water-based challenges are predicted to affect many around the world, there are still many solutions that we can engage in to lessen the impact and perhaps leave us with a more abundant water future. The following actions are some alternative solutions for water shortage challenges.
- Gray water reuse
The water that we use to wash our hands, our dishes, and our clothes, known as greywater, can be reused, saving water, money, and reducing the overall burden placed on sewer and septic systems. Both home and commercial grey water systems are available on the market.
- Conserve water
Whether it’s at home, at work, or while traveling, we can all conserve water. The most obvious choice is to not leave the faucet running more than necessary when doing activities such as washing dishes, as well as taking shorter showers. Be sure to check your home or office for leaky faucets and pipes that might be wasting water.
Also worth considering is the installation of low-flow showerheads, dual flush toilets, and installing aerators on faucets to reduce the water flow during each use. If you live in the United States, be sure to look for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program logo when purchasing new appliances that use water.
Outdoors, we can conserve water by installing a rain shutoff device on automatic sprinkler systems, and only water your lawn or garden when absolutely necessary.
- Rainwater capture and storage
In many areas, people are increasingly relying on rainwater as a water resource when surface waters are no longer viable sources of water. By capturing rainwater, we are able to use water that would have otherwise run off into our yards, sidewalks, and streets.
Rainwater from rooftops can be captured and used for watering plants and non-edible gardens. It can also be used for home use but does require additional treatment before it can be consumed.
- Ocean water desalination
A few places like in Chile and the state of California in the U.S. are now considering solar desalination systems, which are much more energy-efficient and cost-effective than traditional desalination systems.
- Save energy
While saving energy may not be the first thing that comes to mind for tackling water shortage issues, the truth is that water is used to produce hydroelectric power and to cool thermoelectric plants. When we save energy, we also save water.
- Improve the water efficiency of irrigation and agriculture
Because approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture, improving the water efficiency of these systems can really make an impact on the availability of water resources and reduce waste .
Growing crops that require less water to grow, replacing leaky and inefficient irrigation systems, as well as using farming techniques that conserve water such as permaculture can go a long way in reducing the demand for water globally.
- Price water appropriately
Because the cost of water water has been relatively low for many areas around the world, water resources have been taken for granted by many people, and its relatively low cost has facilitated large amounts of waste and pollution.
By increasing the price of water, there would likely be a much greater incentive to conserve and protect it from pollution.
- Replace old and decaying water infrastructure
Much of the infrastructure in many developed countries is inefficient and leaky. Such a leaky system leads to large amounts of unnecessary waste of perfectly good water. The water infrastructure in many of these places must be updated, and the leaks fixed to prevent this waste.
- Don’t pollute
The pollution of water, through sources such as urban runoff, industrial pollution, and improper sanitation, make our precious freshwater unuseful and make the global water shortage even worse. We must, as a global community, clean up and prevent water pollution wherever it occurs so that future generations will have adequate clean water resources for their needs.
- Maintain the health and integrity of natural ecosystems
The plants in many natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands perform ecosystem services that naturally store and cleanse water. By maintaining the health of natural ecosystems, the world receives many water resource benefits for free that would cost almost infinite amounts of money to perform by human-engineered systems.