Water is an amazing resource that needs to be protected and managed in order to ensure that we have enough to drink, cook with, wash our clothes and homes with, and take care of the landscapes in which it’s abundant. However, there are limits on how much this can be done as a natural resource.
Many developed nations have made it a priority to protect their sources of drinking water as well as their waterway ecosystems. The Clean Water Act was established in 1972 and states that all surface waters should be preserved for their intended use by the public with minimal degradation from pollution, overutilization, and degradation, or destruction of aquatic ecosystems. Several amendments to the act have been made, but the general idea has remained the same.
Pollution of waterways due to human activities is illegal. In addition, some states and counties are extending these laws to define which bodies of water can be used for waste water to protect drinking water sources and wildlife.
What is a Sustainable Water Infrastructure?
A sustainable water infrastructure is a water supply infrastructure that meets the needs of the public with minimal degradation or destruction to aquatic ecosystems. In order to ensure there is enough water infrastructure available for future generations we should think about sustainable methods of meeting these needs. There are many benefits to using these methods, including the following:
1. Rainwater Capture System
Many rainwater harvesting systems can be mounted on the exterior of buildings, along roofs and in streets. They can be used anywhere from corporate buildings and retail outlets to homes and sheds. These systems are typically constructed from PVC pipe and polystyrene foam to make the system less noticeable. In addition to filling a basic water tank, there are other methods of collecting the water such as infiltration basins, flat roofs with rubber membranes, and soil tanks and pipes.
In the future, autonomous rainwater harvesting systems may be integrated into buildings or homes to save on the water used for watering plants and waste water byproducts. In addition, systems can be integrated with other water sources, such as grey water, in drier climates.
2. Ground Water Wells
There are many systems of wells that are already in use. There are deep wells, shallow wells and spring fed or flowing wells.
- Deep well systems pump large amounts of water by removing the air from the system and using a low voltage motor or a hand pump to cause groundwater to rise to the ground level.
- Shallow wells incorporate hand pumps or similar methods to remove water with a deeper aquifer.
- Spring fed or flowing wells use underground water flow to provide a source of clean, fresh water.
In the future it may be possible to use smart systems, such as metered valves or sensors that detect contamination and respond accordingly by diverting the flow of water to other sources.
3. Rainwater Infiltration System
Sometimes rainwater harvesting systems are too expensive or they aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Thus, infiltration systems are a great alternative. These systems work by slowing the flow rate of water so that it fills the soil with groundwater, rather than diverting it to a collection point. This is more effective in areas where there is little run-off and where rainwater flows away from the source rather than collecting it for use. Moreover, land use and soil types affect infiltration.
4. Grey Water
Gray water is a sort of urban water stream that contains “waste” water that can be treated and reused, rather than being disposed of or going to a waste pipe. There are many different types of grey water systems depending on the type of waste being captured. The most common systems are bath and kitchen systems, which can be easily rigged to capture anything from hoses and bathroom sinks, to running clothes washers, dishwashers and washing machines.
Although these are not typical examples of grey water, there are many other types such as ornamental landscapes that use the rainwater captured by surrounding plants. Shrubs play a big role in the environment because they provide shade that lowers temperatures and protects the environment from harsh sunlight.
5. Renewable Energy
There are many renewable energy sources that focus on alternative energy, but not all of these can be used for water treatment. Solar energy, wind power and hydro power are the main types of renewable energy sources. Solar water heating systems are designed to use the sun’s heat to heat water through a series of different methods. The most common method is using solar thermal collectors, which work by using a clear covering to trap the sun’s rays and transfer that sunlight into energy.
Benefits of Sustainable Water Infrastructure
There are many benefits that come from sustainable water resources. The following benefits stand out as being very important:
Sustainable water infrastructure is the best way to meet the growing demand for freshwater. Water is one of our most valuable resources, and there is a growing demand for it. Most world regions have some sort of water scarcity problem.
Hygiene and Sanitation
Having access to clean water is important for health and sanitation. It prevents disease from spreading through the population and makes for a more healthy community. One of the biggest killers in developing countries is poor hygiene and sanitation practices.
The quality of the water that people drink is very important, as it determines how healthy they will be. A sustainable water infrastructure can help to provide clean water and prevent it from being contaminated by human activities.
Reduce water pollution
There are many ways to reduce water pollution that come from human activities. For example, we can treat it before it goes back into the environment by capturing rain water. Another way is to use smart technology that can sense when the water quality is low, and divert it to other sources.
At the end of the day, it is necessary to understand that sustainable water infrastructure and water treatment are necessary for modern society. This is because of the many benefits, including reducing costs, reducing wastage and pollution, and improving human health.
It is still a work in progress, and many challenges need to be overcome. Future studies must focus on finding sustainable solutions to issues that arise such as aquifer depletion, contamination and over consumption, as well as the impact on the local environment.
Impact investing is a big step in the right direction. Investing in water with sustainability in mind not only provides more opportunity to build that infrastructure, but also provides the capital necessary to study other sustainable solutions for a cleaner, healthier world. Join Transformation LLC in creating a better future of sustainability and profitability.