What Can We Do About Our Groundwater Depletion?

Water tables all over the world are falling, world water demand has tripled over the last 50 years. As these precious aquifers deplete, food production worldwide also falls. These aquifers are inevitably being depleted in ways that are largely invisible, historically recent, and growing fast. The near-simultaneous depletion of aquifers means that cutbacks in grain harvests will take place in many countries at more or less the same time. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that by 2025, 1.9 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under water stress conditions.

With this alarming situation in place, we are still literally flushing our drinking water down the toilet. To prevent this global catastrophe, water conservation measures have to be implemented. Among the water conservation strategies evaluated, expanded use of recycled water stood out as the water conservation strategy with potential to reduce water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions, with relatively small negative impacts for the public’s health.

Use of Recycled water also has a great potential for expansion due to the fact that its water source (wastewater) is in abundant supply, has lower marginal costs, and has a smaller energy footprint than imported water or desalination.

Wastewater can originate from a combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff or storm water, and from sewer inflow or infiltration.

Water is an essential part of many different industrial manufacturing operations. In the production process water is often contaminated with a wide variety of pollutants, such as solids, dissolved heavy metals and organic compounds.

Waste water sources from the industries are:

  • Industrial cooling waters (biocides, heat, slimes, silt)

  • Industrial process waters

  • Organic or biodegradable waste, including waste from slaughterhouses, creameries, and ice cream manufacture

  • Organic or non bio-degradable/difficult-to-treat waste (pharmaceutical or pesticide manufacturing)

  • Extreme pH waste (from acid/alkali manufacturing, metal plating);

  • Toxic waste (metal plating, cyanide production, pesticide manufacturing, etc.);

  • Solids and emulsions (paper manufacturing, foodstuffs, lubricating and hydraulic oil manufacturing, etc.);

  • Agricultural drainage

  • Hydraulic fracturing

  • Produced water from oil & natural gas production

Robert Glennon reports in Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do about It, Americans use 24 gallons of water each day to flush their toilets. This report is only about the water being used for flushing toilets whereas other sources of wastewater mentioned above are additional to this. With wastewater in such a great abundance and with advances in water purifying techniques, immediate measures should be employed to start recycling this enormous amount of water as it is very feasible, cost effective and also has a great potential for expansion because of this abundant supply.

It’s time to rethink how we have been doing things and get serious about what we need to be doing. With advancements in technologies like Active Water Solutions we can help alleviate much of the challenges that our global community will be faced with in the very near future.