Nowadays, there are a lot of problems that represent a definite level of disaster. Some of them have the unfavorable influence on the world, providing with uncomfortable conditions (economic crises, ethnic conflicts, the growth of the world population), but others can even endanger the people’s life. Ecological problems refer to the global ones, and solutions to them should be found as quickly as possible. Today, people are confused with the problem of water shortages, and that is not in vain.
Water is the basis of life. It plays a vital role in the geological history of the Earth and the origin of life, as well as the formation of the planet's climate. It is a crucial component of almost all industrial processes, but the main function of water is the life support. There is no living organism that can exist without water. Just for the record, a man can live without water only three days. Water is the most spread substance in nature. However, 97.5% of the hydrosphere consists of salt water, and only 2.5% is fresh water, two thirds of which is accumulated in glaciers and snow cover. People use only 1% of 35 million cubic kilometers of fresh water. Approximately 1/3 of population lives in the regions, where the water shortage is a critical problem. The immense use of water increases the demand for it as far as water sources are nonrenewable.
The supply of fresh water on the planet is distributed unevenly. For example, in Africa only about 10% of the population has a regular water supply, while in Europe, almost 95% people do not feel the lack of water. The most difficult situation is in Asia, where more than half of the population lives, but only 36% of them have a regular water supply. People from 80 countries have the acute shortage of clean drinking water. In many states, the water supply is rationed. According to the hydrological classification, countries with 1000-1700 cubic meters of renewable water per person per year live in conditions of the water stress, and those with less than 1,000 cubic meters exist in conditions of the water shortage. The distressing thing is that there is no efficient way to get rid of this problem, and, according to the research works, the situation is getting worse. For instance, the director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, Stewart Patrick states:
According to Global Water Security, "one third of the world's population will live near water basins where the water deficit will be larger than 50 percent by 2030." Many regions that are already experiencing water stress will become "extremely more stressed" or even "exceptionally more stressed." In some areas, rapid depletion of underground aquifers will be the culprit. In others, it will be reductions in meltwater as glaciers recede. In the Andes, hundreds of glaciers will simply disappear in coming decades, eliminating dry season water supplies. Similar, though more gradual, dynamics will be at play in the Himalayas, sometimes referred to as the world's "third pole" (9 May 2012).
It is essential to take into consideration that fact that the world population is rapidly growing. Scientists inform that by 2030, it will be nearly twice as many as it is now. As the result, the use of fresh water will be increased and will reach the enormous rate. Nowadays, agriculture is the most active consumer of fresh water, using 93% of the total. A certain influence can be caused by the climate changes: the regions, which have enough fresh water, can lose it, becoming the arid areas in the future. All these facts show that the problem is not going to be solved by itself.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that people cannot live without fresh water. The rapid growth of the world population, expansion of irrigated agriculture, industrial consumption of fresh water changed the water shortage problem from the local level into the global one. This fact is argued by the plenty of statistics.
According to David J.
Of a population of roughly 6.1 billion, more than 1 billion lack access to potable water. The World Health Organization says that at any time, up to half of humanity has one of the six main diseases -- diarrhea, schistosomiasis, or trachoma, or infestation with ascaris, guinea worm, or hookworm -- associated with poor drinking water and inadequate sanitation. About 5 million people die each year from poor drinking water, poor sanitation, or a dirty home environment – often resulting from water shortage (1998).
The problem cannot be solved, until its causes are detected. That is why it is necessary to figure out the reasons for the water shortage crisis before finding the way out of it. A lot of ecologists work on this question and point out more than 20 factors that cause this problem on a global level. Here are three of them that have the most considerable impact:
1) An intensive increase in the water demand due to the rapid growth of population and development of the world's fields of activities, requiring enormous costs of water;
2) The loss of fresh water due to the reduction of water content of rivers;
3) Polluting by industrial and domestic emissions.
Freshwater loss can occur for various reasons. The water content reducing of the most rivers plays a significant role in this phenomenon. It is connected with the deforestation, draining of wetlands and floodplains, plowing of grassland that, on the one hand, increases the surface runoff and water flowing into the sea, while, on the other hand, it causes the reduction of the groundwater level, which feeds rivers and supports the water content. That is why the groundwater reserves are strongly reduced in many countries. For example, the United States of America has lost 430 billion cubic meters of water resources since 1910 to 1957.
Large water losses occur when using it. In most cities of the world, water is supplied without enumerators, resulting in a false imagination of its limitless reserves. Water pollution by industrial and domestic effluents reduces the costs of fresh water. As a result, the polluted water cannot be used for drinking as well as other domestic and industrial needs. In England, 90% of people use water of dissatisfactory quality. River Thames refers to the most polluted ones as all the liquid wastes are dumped into it. In the U.S.A., the length of heavily polluted rivers exceeds 2000 km. More than 10 million people in this country drink water from rivers and lakes polluted by sewage. Ohio and Potomac are the most polluted on the east of the country. Lake Erie, which is one of the Great Lakes, is gradually dying. Divers, who examined the bottom, informed that the lake looks like a garbage pail for a chemical laboratory.
Recently, such substance as oil has become one of the most dangerous pollutants messing up both inland waters and oceans. In addition, oil pollution endangers lots of water inhabitants. Covering water surface oil becomes an interference for the oxygen to penetrate into water, which makes lots of organisms die. The scale of the water pollution by oil is so high that a serious and effective solution must be immediately taken.
It gets clear what a substantial impact pollution has on fresh water, while analyzing the facts mentioned above. It is particularly hard to provide people with the necessary amount of water in arid regions of underdeveloped and developing countries with a high density of population, whereas the need in the water supply is abnormally high.
In order to start addressing the problem of the water shortage in a comprehensive manner, one should provide with some changes. For instance:
1) To rationalize the water use in order to minimize its loss and transfer water from areas with the abundant moisture to areas, where there is a shortage of moisture;
2) To prevent the pollution of rivers, lakes and other water systems using the effective measures and create large reserves of fresh water;
3) To expand the use of new sources of fresh water.
The oceans are of immense size. They occupy almost 72% of the Earth area and contain nearly 99% of water reserves. Therefore, it is the sea salt water, which contains a lot of chemical elements, and that is why it cannot be used for drinking, but there is a way that can help to overcome this problem and, at the same time, solve the water shortage problem.
The most popular and economic method is the separating water from salts by distillation. This principle is simple. The water is heated to the temperature of boiling. The steam is separated from the salt and then gets through the process of condensation. The problem is that the salt transformed into the solid residue, creating new difficulties.
One more effective method is the desalination of sea water that is known as the reverse osmosis. The thing is that sea water is passed through a special membrane, which makes water penetrate through it, but it is the interference for the salt compounds. However, the productivity of this method is quite low, because such desalination system must be provided with the high pressure.
Theoretically and practically, it is possible to turn sea water into the fresh one, but it is highly expensive. Humanity is trying to improve the technologies in this field; hopefully, the cheap desalination of sea water will become a reality soon. For instance, the Singapore Company is working on inventing an economic desalination system.
Another viable method in conditions of the water shortage is the recycled water. The recycled water or, in other words, circulating water is the water that is consistently and repeatedly used in the process according to the principle of closed systems, without dumping it into sewage systems. The only problem of this process is that the recycled water cannot be used for drinking, whereas the water quality does not comply with the world standards. However, this water is applicable in terms of using it in the agricultural irrigation systems as well as the industrial purpose. Nonetheless, there is no benefit without loss.
One problem with using recycled water for irrigation purposes is that many times treated wastewater is used to refill lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. Recycling the water means that less will be able to flow to those water bodies, which can have an adverse effect on the wildlife thriving in that area. (California Drought Preparedness “Water Shortages”, 2000)
All these solutions to the problem of the water shortage are effective in terms of overcoming it, but a lot of time and efforts are needed. Besides, much money will be spent for it. According to the research of the analysts from Booz Allen Hamilton, in order to provide water for all the needs of humanity by 2030, the world will have to invest not less than $ 1 trillion per year in the implementation of existing water-saving technologies, repairs and upgrade infrastructure and construction of sanitation systems. One should push off the things that cause the problem, before trying to get rid of it. That is why people must not pollute water and try to use it in the rational way in order to make the problem stop progressing. Only after it, the result of putting preventative measures into operation will be effective.