Water changes in the pipeline?

“We will never know the value of water, till the well is dry” – Thomas Fuller

Water is a convenient resource we take for granted, expecting it to always be readily available. Today I learned otherwise. I had the opportunity to sit in on a WBCSD session on improving the management of water. It began to make me realise how irresponsibly it is used, as 80% of wastewater used by industries is disposed of into the ground untreated. Not only does this put the environment at danger to potential chemicals in the water, but also highlights the complete lack of recycling that is done with such a limited source. I was horrified when it was stated that by 2030, the demand for water will outweigh the supply of it by over 40% (file:///C:/Users/User%20account/Downloads/Charting_Our_Water_Future_Full_Report_.pdf). With these terrifying statistics looming, companies desperately need to unite to combat the soon-to-be shortage. Consequently, the WBCSD use the ‘5R’s’ which includes any actions attempting to reduce, reuse, recycle, restore and recover water used in industry.

I was so shocked at these figures I immediately gained an interest into how companies are dealing with this fundamental issue, as the public have become more aware of the problem, and are in general, more actively involved and interested in sustainability. Thus companies are even more pressured to find alternative solutions to save the planet and maintain a positive image. To my relief, there were some great examples of companies employing machinery and technology to diminish and reuse the amount used, which is a great start to the crisis we are currently facing. However, the volume of water being saved by these companies, is on the grand scheme of things, barely enough to match up to the quantity of water required and it will not be enough to slow down the pre-mentioned supply-demand ratio.

Somehow, there needs to be a paradigm shift in industry, to reduce if not irradiate the use of water in production. Instead of having conflict between companies competing for the same water, there needs to become a community between them. Perhaps businesses could form partnerships or networks to pass water from company to company and between industries that use it for different purposes, for example heating, cooling and producing hydro-energy. All of these can occur without needing to treat the water or cost the companies any extra money therefore will not effect the productivity or profitability of an individual company, yet could severely reduce the absorption of such a limited resource in production.

Until next time,

Sammi

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