Why is it Important to Have Water Sustainability?

Water sustainability is the maintenance of the water supply that can keep going for future generations; to meet all the needs, from agricultural to industrial. Water is the biggest natural resource used and is irreplaceable. Climate change greatly affects the accessibility to fresh drinking water. There has been more droughts, floods and storms which makes  water systems unreliable and a threat to water shortage.

Currently groundwater makes up just under 50 per cent of Earth’s freshwater and plays an important role in potable water. It is a preferred source of water because it’s generally free from bacteria and the quality is overall consistent. When rain hits the surface, some of it will enter the soil and infiltrate the ground via gravity. As it moves downward it’s filtered through the Earth then collected into empty spaces called aquifers. This water is generally clean and only requires a disinfection step. Surface water is a result of runoff from rain or snow that has not infiltrated the ground or has not returned to the atmosphere. This water is more vulnerable to contamination than groundwater and needs to be properly treated before its considered safe to drink. Surface water requires chemically assisted filtration and then disinfection.

                Groundwater is quickly declining from increased pollution and unsustainable practices, and surface water can become heavily polluted from human sources. These problems have increased the demand for safe drinking water globally. In some countries that lack freshwater sources they use desalination but that has very high energy demands making it unsustainable.

                Reclaimed water is a very sustainable source of a water supply and eases the stress of primary water sources like groundwater and surface water. This process is taking wastewater and putting it through the primary clarifier where the solids settle, then through the biological treatment where specific microorganisms break apart the organic material in the water. The water is then put through a final disinfection to remove any remaining bacteria, and the water is ready to be discharged into streams/lakes etc. or used for irrigation. This water is then ready to be used as a raw water supply, where it goes through more filtration and disinfection steps to become safe drinking water.

                Sustainability within the water treatment plants is important for ecosystems and socio-economic development. More sustainable water treatment plants will not only decrease the costs for manufacturing by using renewable energy sources (making it even more sustainable) but also to the ecosystems. Wetlands help protect fresh water from contamination and dry spells, the vegetative life helps reduce the groundwater runoff and prevent land degradation.

What can YOU do to help water sustainability?

  • Cutting showers shorter: Showering can use around 6 to 10 gallons of water a minute; help minimize the amount of water used by taking a shorter shower
  • Use rainwater instead of the tap to water your plants: Rainwater holds many more nutrients and minerals than the tap water, not only does it save water, but the plants become healthier too.
  • Fix any leaks in the plumbing: Even a drip can seem small and unnoticeable but after a long period of time 50 gallons or more of water could be lost in just one day
  • Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth or shaving: Keeping the tap on while brushing teeth or shaving can waste up to 5 gallons of water
  • Only wash your laundry, or run the dishwasher when they are full: Washing machines and dishwashers can use between 30 to 40 gallons of water per cycle, using these appliances at half their capacity can waste up to 20 gallons
  • Plant drought-resistant plants/flowers/trees: Watering the plants doesn’t need to be done as often when you have drought-resistant plants kept in the garden
  • Use mulch in the garden: Mulch can soak up the water and slows down the evaporation of moisture and keeps the plants watered for longer
  • Install water saving devices: Ultra-low flushing toilets use less water per flush. Low-flow shower heads use less pressure.
  • Recycle cooking water for plants: Instead of throwing away the water you can save it for any plants