Water is crucial to sustainable development in some countries, and lack of it could cause wider issues such as social conflict.
Innovation and using unconventional resources, such as catching fog and iceberg harvesting, can help tackle water scarcity.
However, the use of these resources needs to be under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda for our planet’s benefit.
Water scarcity is among the top five global risks affecting people’s wellbeing. In water-scarce areas, the situation is grim. Conventional sources like snowfall, rainfall, river runoff and easily accessible groundwater are affected by climate change, and supplies are shrinking as demand grows.
In these countries, water is a critical challenge to sustainable development and a potential cause of social unrest and conflict. Water scarcity also impacts traditional seasonal human migration routes and, together with other water insecurity factors, could reshape migration patterns.
Water-scarce countries need a fundamental change in planning and management. We are looking at how to do this, through the creative exploitation of unconventional water resources.
The process of desalination removes salt from seawater or brackish groundwater to make them drinkable. This allows us to gather water beyond what is available from the water cycle, providing a climate independent and steady supply of high-quality water.
Seawater desalination has been growing faster because of advances in membrane technology and material science. These advances are projected to cause a significant decrease in production costs by 2030.
More places are expected to become reliant on desalinated water because of its falling costs and the rising costs of conventional water resources. While desalination provides approximately 10% of the municipal water supply of urban coastal centres worldwide, by 2030 this is expected to reach 25%.
Towing an iceberg from one of the polar ice caps to a water-scarce country may not seem like a practical solution to water shortages. Still, scientists, scholars and politicians are considering iceberg harvesting as a potential freshwater source.
Moving an iceberg across the ocean is technically possible, based on a theoretical four-part process. It would require locating a suitable source and supply, calculating the necessary towing power requirements, accurately predicting melting in transit, and estimating the economic feasibility of the entire endeavour. Countries like United Arab Emirates and South Africa are considering iceberg towing as an option to narrow gaps in their water demand and supply.
Water and climate change are interconnected, so climate change increases the likelihood of extreme droughts in dry areas. Harnessing the potential of unconventional water resources can help increase water-scarce communities’ resilience against climate change while diversifying water supply resources.
We need to identify and promote functional systems of unconventional water resources that are environmentally feasible, economically viable, and support the achievement of water related sustainable development, in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and beyond.
As dry areas receive small amounts of rainfall, micro-catchment rainwater harvesting may help capture rainwater on the ground, where it would otherwise evaporate.
There are two major types of micro-catchment rainwater harvesting systems. One is water harvesting via rooftop systems where runoff is collected and stored in tanks or similar devices. This water is used domestically or for livestock watering.
The second is water harvesting for agriculture, which involves collecting the rainwater that runs off a catchment area in a small reservoir or the root zone of a cultivated area. The catchment surface may be natural or treated with a material that stops the soil absorbing water, especially in sandy soils. Because of the intermittent nature of runoff, it is necessary to store the maximum amount of rainwater during the rainy season to be used later.
Source From: World Economic Forum