The Future of Water

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1536339921954{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536339716716{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”]Water is our world’s most precious resource and essential to everything we do. No matter who we are, where we live, or what we do, water connects us all. It nourishes us. It cleans and sustains us. Put simply, we ARE water.

Water is the defining issue of our time—it has been steadily rising as a top-of-mind concern for community, business, and political leaders across the globe. In fact, the World Economic Forum identifies water crises as one of the greatest risks we face in this decade. Indeed, the water challenges we face are extensive. However, all across the world, innovative leaders are turning challenges into opportunities to advance more sustainable and inclusive approaches to managing water resources. These solutions range from specific technologies to innovative approaches that enable communities around the world to better meet this challenge.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF WATER” color=”sky” border_width=”2″ css=”.vc_custom_1536340126052{padding-top: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341235300{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345827″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536339670345{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341544539{padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Singapore, an island nation lacking any freshwater resource big enough to sate it’s growing population, is one of the most advanced nations when it comes to water recycling. The Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency, started exploring the feasibility of producing drinking water from treated used water in the 1970’s. In 2003, after a period of extensive and in-depth investigation, the Public Utilities Board began supplying ‘high-grade’ reclaimed water, referred to as NEWater, from two newly opened plants. Produced from treated used water that is further purified using advanced membrane technologies and ultra-violet disinfection, NEWater is ultra-clean and even safe to drink. NEWater has passed more than 150,000 scientific tests and consistently exceeds the drinking water guidelines set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Today, there are five NEWater plants supplying up to 40% of Singapore’s current water needs. NEWater is the pillar of Singapore’s water sustainability, and by 2060, NEWater is expected to meet up to 55% of Singapore’s future water demand. NEWater improves Singapore’s water security, increases its resilience to climate change, and also reduces the need for large water storage capacity as water is constantly recycled, thereby freeing up limited land for other uses. In this way, “Singapore will be always able to turn what is a disadvantage into strength, and what seemed an insurmountable vulnerability into endless opportunity,” said NG JOO HEE, the Chief Executive at PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341299877{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345840″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536340277595{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341585432{padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Plants need water to grow, and in agriculture, sprinklers provide it at set times. But farmers are inclined to overwater—some experts say they could cut back by almost 40 percent. So the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) has developed a “smart” irrigation system to prevent overwatering. Sensors measure the soil moisture and receive information from local weather stations. If the ground is saturated, or it’s nearly dry but rain is predicted within 48 hours, no watering is necessary.

David Zoldoske, director of the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at California State University, Fresno, has been working on irrigation issues like this for 35 years. “Collecting and interpreting information makes up a key part of what’s known as precision agriculture”, says Zoldoske.

Using smart water technology to collect data can benefit residential consumers as well. “Our research shows that large numbers of people water their lawns too often and too much. It’s a shame, and it’s unnecessary. Water we could easily save is being needlessly wasted,” Zoldoske points out. Together with the EPA, the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) developed protocols for both the climate-based and soil sensor-based irrigation controllers that are now used in residential homes.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341373719{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345842″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536340408690{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341593986{padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Two decades ago, sustainability issues were not considered business issues. Today, escalating public expectation for businesses to address global concerns is resetting the relationship between business and society. Water is a primary ingredient in virtually every Coca-Cola product and is fundamental to its agricultural supply chain. Safe, accessible water is also essential to the health of people, communities, ecosystems and it is indispensable for economic prosperity. And so it set goals accordingly. In this case, Coca-Cola promised to “replenish 100% of the water we use back to communities and nature by 2020;” that is, put back up to 200 billion liters per year by, in part, funding projects that protect watersheds or provide clean, safe water to communities in the developing world.

In 2015, Coca-Cola exceeded this goal and became the first Fortune 500 Company to replenish 100% of the water it used globally. As of 2017, Coca-Cola’s projects are replenishing an average of 248 billion liters per year through 248 community and watershed projects in 71 countries across the world. Solving water supply, quality and access gaps will require an unprecedented scale of collaborative efforts that combat the crisis from the ground up. When humanity is faced with a crisis, history shows us that we have an amazing ability to conquer it resourcefully, and that’s exactly what Coca-Cola and other corporate stewards must continue to do.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341409167{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345843″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536340495654{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341600401{padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Water gave rise to cities and civilizations around the world. And as our global population becomes more urbanized, the social, economic, and environmental vitality of our growing cities are largely dependent on the sustainable management of water. By treating all types of water as a valuable resource, new approaches and opportunities arise; both directly in terms of preserving the freshwater resource and obtaining climate resilience, and indirectly in terms of creating more livable cities.

Freiburg, a city in southwest Germany with a population of about 220,000, is an exceptional example of sustainable urban development. Starting early, in the 1970s, Freiburg has tackled energy and climate change, transport and land use, urban liveability and safety, and democratic issues – all using a highly integrated approach. As a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986, Freiburg made resource conservation the most vital factor for future plans. Extensive use of permeable ground surfaces, bio-swales (vegetated areas designed to attenuate and treat rainwater runoff) and green roofs help save water throughout city. Almost all dwellings built post-Chernobyl are either zero-energy or energy-plus. Often called Germany’s “ecological capital,” Freiburg has been recognized internationally as one of the world’s most livable and sustainable cities.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341440880{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345844″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536340585283{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341609952{padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]A sustainable water future requires that all people— regardless of income, race, or geographical location—have access to clean, safe, and affordable water and wastewater service.

In sprawling Mexico City, the design startup Isla Urbana has installed 8,000 catchment systems on houses in the poorest and most water-starved neighborhoods. The straightforward and effective idea, which gathers rainwater and filters it to safe levels of potability, caught the eye of scientist and politician Claudia Sheinbaum. Sheinbaum ended up winning the 2018 Mexico City mayoral election on a platform that included the widespread adaptation of rainwater catchment systems, among other things, as a solution to the city’s dire water crisis.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536341466686{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1345846″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1536340680137{margin-top: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Deploying advanced technologies to improve decision-making that affects the health of waterways. In many parts of the world, rivers are a crucial part of the clean-water supply. But problems can arise. For instance, California’s Russian River furnishes 600,000 people with drinking water. Four different utilities draw from it. When one of them dumps wastewater, it causes trouble for the company collecting water downriver.

These days, though, IBM keeps track of water levels, temperature and quality on the Russian River and passes the information to the utilities. The system also pays attention to weather forecasts. When drought is predicted, the companies can call on customers to reduce water use. By taking into account multiple factors and using accurate models, the Russian River’s water companies have a much better idea of where they stand when it comes to droughts and dumping, says Peter Williams, director of IBM’s Big Green Innovations department. “For a state like California that’s been dealing with drought for years, that’s vitally important.”

Outside the United States, IBM is using similar smart systems on South America’s Paraná River, which flows through Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, and on the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest. The impact of logging, for example, is now clearly visible, with software showing where and how it causes flooding downriver. “We want to encourage dialogue,” Williams says. “Every day, countless decisions are made that have consequences for the river and the people living nearby. Now we can immediately see the results of actions and their effect on others, which makes consultation easier and combats ignorance about the consequences of deforestation.”

The world of ideas has a never-ending positive feedback loop. Solutions keep coming. In fact, if you follow The Optimist Daily from day to day, there’s only one conclusion: There are just not enough problems for the solutions that we have. The demand for water will only grow as the global population continues to expand at an increasing pace. In the coming years, it will take creative solutions like these to help our world continue to thrive in the face of this global challenge.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”turquoise” css=”.vc_custom_1536352096786{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1536344822086{margin-bottom: 10px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]


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Saving a little water can make a huge difference. Better still, we can all enjoy our daily activities and save water at the same time. Saving water is in our hands.

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Download and print this water-saving reminder for your refrigerator:

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Letting any used water run down the sink is unnecessary. Put a basin in your sink to collect water that can be later used to water plants. Using environmentally friendly soap lets you re–use water that was used to wash your hands.



Letting water flow down the drain while you wait for it to warm up is a complete waste. Cold water kills germs as well as warm water does, and cold water is actually better for your hair and skin than warm water.



Probably the most water–conscience way of washing yourself. With a Navy shower you get in, get wet, turn off the water, soap up, then turn the water on again only to rinse off. A regular shower uses about 60 gallons of water, while Navy showers use only 3 gallons of water on average.



Watering when temperatures are at their lowest will minimize evaporation from the sun. On average, watering in the morning will save 25 gallons each time you water. You can also water in the evenings, but this makes your plants susceptible to fungus growth.
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Dishwashers save A LOT of water. The average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle, and Energy Star dishwashers use 4 gallons of water per cycle. Since water flows out of the tap at about 2-gallons/ minute you use substantially more water when you wash a whole load of dishes by hand.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


According to food & water activist Florencia Ramirez, author of the wonderful new book Eat Less Water, most water wastage occurs in the production chains of the foods we consume. By paying attention to how and where our food is grown, focusing on organic foods over mainstream, buying more from farmer’s markets especially from farmers using sustainable water management techniques, we can make a bigger impact on our overall water footprint than taking navy showers, watering your plants with water leftovers, or using your dishwasher.  But of course it’s great to do those things too! [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Water conservation is about creativity: thinking before you act to minimize water use. While these are only a few ways of saving water, they are effective and actionable. Come up with unique ways to cut down on the water you use, it’s good for the environment and your wallet.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”turquoise”][vc_column_text]Related content:

World Water Day: 5 ways to conserve


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