“We never know the worth of the water till the well is dry” – French proverb
We have progressed in every field possible over the past few decades and technological advancements have made everyday life easier, simpler and faster. Today, we have imbibed a fast-paced lifestyle; where any and everything is available at the click of a button. To achieve this lifestyle, mankind has unconsciously taken, Mother Nature for granted and today we face the depletion of natural resources. Water is the Number 1 resource that has been most toyed with, as part of our progress and it’s no surprise that water scarcity across the globe is a burning issue today.
While a rapid increase in technology has occurred water usage has also increased and has become mechanized. This rapid growth in technology can also create and have created some saving unique methods in saving and creating drinking water for many.
Some of the amazing cases where technology has helped or has the potential of helping many to get clean drinking water are:
Case study #1: Rainmaker water
American billionaire Manoj Bhargava has embarked on an ambitious project, called, “Rainmaker water” project to convert seawater/any type of impure water into pure, usable water. He was inspired by the drought situation in California to create equipment that uses simple technology for water conversion. The first solution provided was the RainMaker for desalination, a machine that could convert ocean water into freshwater using a process that mimics how the sun evaporates seawater to form rain clouds. He is confident that by placing huge ship like equipment called, “barges” in the sea that can further carry a large number of this equipment inside; they will be able to pump out large gallons of water daily for usage. This Rainmaker equipment can also be customized and are being extended for purification of any type of dirty water—river water, sewage water, bacteria-filled water, well water— to make it fit to drink. This customized equipment can be used in fields and help in irrigation. These consume power as little as 1.5KW to pump approx 8-10 gallons of pure water per minute. The starting price is affordable at 200 USD.
The Indian govt. had committed to invest in 1,00,000 Rainmaker equipment in 2017.
Case#2: Water billboard
The Bujama District of Peru at the edge of the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth. This area experiences almost no rainfall during the year. The engineers from Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) have devised a way to turn humid air into usable water. UTEC had erected a billboard which converts moisture in the air into drinking water. This low cost 1250 USD priced billboard was used as part of the awareness campaign to create awareness on the importance of water scarcity. The billboard works through a reverse osmosis process, capturing air humidity, condensing and purifying. This billboard has successfully created over 9450 litres of water in a period of 3 months.
Case#3: Tow icebergs from Antarctica
When we hear the name UAE, the first thing that comes to our mind is Oil, luxurious Dubai and the ever tall Burj Khalifa. UAE is though has an abundance of oil, is among the 10 most severely affected countries that face a shortage of drinking water. UAE’s geographical location makes it furthermore difficult to get access to freshwater because of the low rainfall and with very little annual rainfall. With the rise in population, water shortage continues to be the challenging issues in the UAE.
This issue of water scarcity in the UAE has forced the government to rely on desalinated water. The Emirates have a larger issue of misuse to tackle as water is a free resource for the people and there are no costs attached to attaining water. This brings to another problem very high amounts of wastage from both households and farmland. Reports show that farmlands with its high intake of water also have higher wastage.
UAE govt has proposed a bizarre and mammoth project of towing icebergs from Antarctica to UAE coasts to leverage them as a new source of water. Hopefully, this will solve its burning issue of drinking water shortage.
This project is expected to be completed by 2020. Reportedly, the cost of the project is estimated at USD 50-60 million. They are currently developing a unique technology which would reduce project costs, ensure zero ice melting during the transportation phase, and facilitate water-transfer processes to consumers at minimal costs.
Though it may take over a year to move the iceberg, this is expected to solve the water needs of 15 million people for over 5 years.
Coincidentally, this will also make UAE as the first desert country to offer glacial tourism on its coasts, saving iceberg enthusiasts the trouble of travelling to the North and South Poles.
The idea of relying on bringing an iceberg to the coast of a desert and converting humidity to drinking water are very real examples of how grave the situation of water is. While these are some examples that have had the confluence of the intellect and the ability to execute these projects, there still exist many places on the planet where even a single glass of drinking water is still a luxury.
How It Works. http://www.icebergs.world/
UAE Icebergs Project. http://www.go-green.ae/greenstory_view.php?storyid=2732.
Smith-Strickl, Kiona. “A Billboard That Makes Clean Drinking Water.” Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2013, https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/water/a-billboard-that-condenses-water-from-humidity-15393050.
The Water Billboard: A Repurposed Billboard That Generates Clean Water. https://reprogrammingthecity.com/utec-water-billboard/