The United States – a member of an imminent thirsty planet
Posted by evolvingwheel on October 28, 2007
For last few months, I have been concerned with the growing issue of freshwater availability in the rapidly expanding economies and communities of South Asia. What came to me as a shock is a similar catastrophe in the making right here in the homeland. Some of the numbers are staggering – US used more than 148 trillion gallons of water in 2000. With a surging growth in population, immigration, usage, and wastes. My jaws fell learning that we use nearly 500K gallons of water per capita. The global problem of depleting freshwater has started to reach our shores, and that’s too pretty fast. As I kept on reading about it in the article published in MSNBC [read article here], I felt that the awareness about this impending problem is quite insignificant. However, keeping our eyes closed wouldn’t promise a continuous flow from our taps. This is one of several things we have taken for granted!
Well, following my philosophy of problems-lead-to-opportunities, I see a great potential in innovation, invention, private sector-government collaboration, governance, and conscious management of services around development of freshwater facilities. Distribution will be another big concern. As again mentioned in the MSNBC article – it will cost us nearly 300 billion dollars to just upgrade our pipes to support increased capacity. Who is going to bear the cost? Will it be government alone (using our tax money) or should it be individual citizens bearing a subscription based cost structure as found in tollway road systems. Pay as you go! However, that model will not be able to support the infrastructure totally since the pipes won’t stop coming to the tap that stays unopened.
I like the idea of desalination plants. However, the cost-benefit structure may be preventing an expansion of its capacity. On the other hand, the desalination capacity is not significant either. If you look at the numbers in Florida, they are not impressive either. One component that would be really beneficial is the recycling of waste water. If we can convert a large amount of industrial and farming wastes (water) by different organic technologies (microbial treatments, etc.), we will be able to bring freshwater back to the ecosystem. That will be a very prospectful industry.
Finally, I came across a global perspective in the following article published in BBC. Wanted to share with you: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/755497.stm