In the UK, we are conditioned to believe water is quite literally on tap, but recent research reveals that whilst our planet might be blue, we may still be left thirsty. Bathroom and shower experts, showerstoyou.co.uk decided to investigate, by analysing The Future of Water (released: December 2016) – a specialised report by Raconteur.
Showerstoyou.co.uk found the following:
- Over 600 million people lack access to safe water worldwide.
- 3x that number must use a source of drinking water contaminated by faeces.
- Some 2.4 billion people, nearly one third of the global population, also lack access to a toilet or latrine.
In its ranking of the top five global risks of greatest concern over the next ten years, the World Economic Forum rated the water crises as number one, marginally higher than failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and significantly ahead of extreme weather and food crises.
In a visual infographic created by showerstoyou (at top of page), there are seven countries joint in first place for most at risk of severe water stress by 2040; these being San Marino, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Alongside climate-related effects, there are two other major global megatrends accelerating impact of water scarcity worldwide – population growth and urbanisation.
More than half the world’s rising population already live in cities and that proportion is forecast to grow towards 66% by 2050. This will mean more than two billion extra inhabitants will need water for drinking, washing and food preparation. The UN predicts close to 90% of this increase will be concentrated in Asia and Africa alone.
Martin Smith, Managing Director of Showers to You, comments:
“Water stress, at such an extreme level, is an unimaginable but very real issue we should not have to consider in 2017 – but we must. We need to realise what is at stake and take considerable action. Luckily, many fantastic, innovative technologies are being created – some already in place – that will no doubt aid us in making some small, but absolutely critical progress.”
Yet, the emergence of big data and smart technologies has brought about a change in how we can proactively attack and sustainably manage water stress.
Showerstoyou handpicked 6 of the most innovative technologies, which may help to turn the tap on water stress across the globe.
- Low-Water Washing Machines A washing machine uses a lot of water, so Sheffield-based company Xeros developed a device that uses 80% less. Replacing water largely with polymer beads, each machine could potentially save more than a million litres of water over its lifetime. This is equivalent to the same volume used by an average UK household in a decade.
- Biomimetics Polluted tap water is a big issue in many countries, especially India and China, and purifying it takes a lot of energy or chemicals. Danish company Aquaporin has developed a ground-breaking technology that purifies water by mimicking nature. It can be used to treat wastewater and is very efficient – one gramme of aquaporins can cope with 2,700 litres of water a second.
- Personal Purification Straw LifeStraw can remove potential pathogens, such as dysentery, typhoid and cholera, as well as other parasites from what would normally be undrinkable water. For every LifeStraw purchased, one schoolchild in a developing country receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. It is used in projects in more than 64 countries around the world, from Kenya to India.
- Affordable Water Pump Some of the most frugal innovations make the greatest difference when it comes to water technology. KickStart design and sell low-cost, human-powered irrigation pumps to poor farmers. These use the power of people’s legs or arms to pump up ground or river water for crops.
- Fog Harvesting In the Atacama Desert, in Chile, it hasn’t rained for hundreds of years, but it does get plenty of fog. Poor communities here need freshwater to drink, as well as irrigate crops and aid with reforestation. So, they’ve developed large mesh fog collectors. These hillside devices use a fine polypropylene mesh, which is highly efficient at capturing water-laden fog.
- Sucking Water from the Air The WaterSeer relies on condensation and simple wind power to generate clean water from the atmosphere. It promises to generate up to 11 gallons of safe drinking water every day from thin air, without the use of electricity or an external power source, and could potentially run forever. It works using a fan which pulls warm air down a long metal tube and underground; water in the air then condenses and is stored in a bell-like reservoir.