Blog by Rasha Hassan
The fresh water is 3% of the earth’s water with a limited amount (around 0.5%) available to be used for our livelihood. On the other hand, water is not only the source of our life but also the centre of any economic development. These facts with increasing population put increasing pressures on water resources worldwide, and challenge the water sector to manage, preserve and sustain these resources as well.
Climate change has become the aggravating factor in this complex reality by causing change in precipitation and temperature thereby change in Evapotranspiration. Moreover, climate change impacts the regions differently which reflects on water resources conditions across the world. Some regions are suffering from droughts and water depletion whereas others are experiencing more intense floods and hurricanes. The impacts of these hazards are varied mainly according to the technical readiness and capacity, and the economy of each country. For instance, a prolonged drought is catastrophic for a country that depends on agriculture in its GDP with no technical solutions to provide water.
How can we deal with this complexity?
The answer is by building a resilient water system that is based on harnessing each water drop and reuse it continuously. In other words, let’s mimic nature!
Water flows in nature to be used by different ecosystems and sectors, then returns to nature in other forms and characteristics to be filtered and purified then enter the cycle again. However, water is becoming highly contaminated with limited availability due to ongoing development of socio-economic activities and decreasing amount of water needed to dilute pollutants because of climate change and water diversions.
Thus, there is an urge to adapt to this reality and find innovative approaches not only to do what nature has been doing so far but also to provide long term environmental, societal and economic benefits. We can simply delineate the above-mentioned by using reuse, recycle, and recovery water management. This practical integration of these three pillars allows us to achieve water efficiency and revert water as an enabler and retain its quantity and quality.
What do we need to focus on?
We need to start changing water management practices. Creating a mid-phase between wastewater treatment and releasing water to nature may be a fruitful solution to tackle water shortage even if it requires additional treatment for wastewater like tertiary treatment. This comes from the fact that many people don’t accept to drink treated wastewater, but they accept using it for other purposes. For example, treated domestic wastewater can be used for irrigation of football playgrounds.
Assessing water amount requirements, water usage, and water discharge characteristics of varied sectors is a key step in embarking the road towards the reuse, recycle, and recovery water management approach. Identifying these parameters will facilitate water reclamation and envision water treatment and how to use water after that. For example, the mining sector utilizes and discharges water differently than the energy sector. The high concentration of minerals in mining wastewater may limit/eliminate the ability to reuse water in any way.
What do we aim for?
We aim to build a sustainable water secure future. Water is our precious asset that we need to use, preserve, and sustain, so we can deliver it in a healthy condition to the next generations, thus we need to be innovative in our thinking, aware of our role and accountable for our actions.
By Rasha Hassan