Benefits of Water Recycling
Water supports the earth’s ecological system and is critical to all species including human beings, plants, animals, and insects. Recycling refers to the recovering or extraction of a useful resource from waste or garbage. Although water is the most abundant resource on earth, only a small amount of the available volume is safe for consumption. A greater percentage of the earth water is saline making it unsuitable for human domestic and agricultural use. The world’s population is rapidly rising above eight billion people and the available fresh water resources are insufficient to cover the demand. New technologies have enabled the recycling of water from wastes to pure and clean water suitable for domestic and agricultural use. Water recycling is necessary to meet the rising demand for domestic use, food production, industries and also ensure environmental conservation.
Water Shortage Facts
Through the natural water cycle, the ecological system has been able to recycle and reuse water millions of times. However, the earth’s population has increased too fast leading to a demand greater than the natural cycle can sustain. Human population increase is the single most dangerous threat to the ecology as in relations to global warming and environmental conservation. The earth population hit unmanageable 7.4 billion people in 2015 creating a resource shortage and pending environmental disaster from 1.6 billion people a century ago. The world had a population of less than one billion people during the industrial revolution compared to six billion people at the end of the 20th century.
The increasing populations demands billions of water gallons and food daily leading to fast exhaustion of the available water resources. Water covers 71% of the world’s surface area, 98 % of the world’s water is saline making it unsuitable for human consumption. Only, 2% of water is fresh and suitable for human consumption. The 2% of fresh water is contained in rivers, lakes, ice glaciers, ponds, streams, swamps and underground water sources. Analyzing the data above, over 7.4 billion people are dependent on less than 2% of the available and consumable drinking water. Lakes, rivers, and other surface bodies only hold 1%, while 12% and 87% of the remaining 2% is held by underground reservoirs and glaciers respectively. Over 97% of the underground water is less to be explored for human use and water is glaciers is largely untapped. The entire human population largely depends on the 1% held by surface sources including rivers, lakes, streams and swamps.
A large percentage of the water is used in agricultural production, domestic use and industrial production. Agriculture is the largest consumable of water accounting for 70%, industries follow at 20% and finally domestic use at 10%. Industrialized nations user more than 50% of the available freshwater in industries. In developing nations mainly African water shortage cause about 80% of the preventable deaths. The countries lack the technological knowledge to tap into the wide water sources available. Controlling population increase is impossible making it critical for governments to develop incentives to increase water availability and the subsequent food security. Recycling and the use of waste water is a future necessity that the public has to accept if humanity has to survive and avoid crisis.
Recycling water is the only viable solution to evade the looming global water crisis. The water crisis in the world is looming as United States cities attempt to find recycling technologies and also change the social perception of recycled water. The United Nations warns of a looming water crisis as water resources diminish with increasing population. The United Nation organization estimates that over 1.2 billion people suffer from water scarcity. The United Nations also notes that the shortage is due to water wastage, pollution and lack of sustainable water usage practices. The body warns that by 2030, the demand for fresh water will exceed natural replenishment by 40%. Over, 400 million people will suffer from extreme water shortage by 2025 and the demand for water for agricultural, domestic and industrial use if expected to more than triple in the next decade. The result will be a civil and environmental crisis as the world’s population struggle for the scarce resource. The water crisis is already looming in parts of Africa and the Middle East with constant wars breaking out in a bind to control water resources. The United Nations also warns that water is tied to food security and decreasing water resources equals food crisis and possible civil strife in future.
Water Recycling Technology
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the recycling of waste for all types of uses including domestic and agricultural. Water recycling takes place in three main treatment stages that are primary, secondary and tertiary or advanced treatment. The primary stage includes basic sedimentation, waste water is separated from large objects such as stones, logs, and wood. Secondary treatment includes biological oxidations treatment to remove pathogens. The water is suitable for surface irrigation of vineyards and also industrial cooling appliances such as nuclear reactors. Tertiary or advanced treatment involves chemical coagulation, filtration, and disinfection. The water is suitable for toilet flushing, vehicles cleaning, landscaping and also food crop irrigation. Recycling of waste water for human consumption requires further advanced treatment such as reverse osmosis.
Benefits of Recycling Water
Analyzing the data above reveals that water resources are quickly depreciating and the water shortage is a factor threatening global peace and also food security. Recycling if water has several benefits to the human population and also the environment. Benefits of recycling water include:
- Recycling water will ensure that there is enough water for domestic use to support the rising population demand. Domestic needs comprise of 10% of the total human consumption but are the most crucial in ensuring health and sanitation in homes. Water shortage leading to poor sanitation causes 80% of preventable deaths in Africa. Recycling wastewater from sewers, quarrels, and other domestic sources will ease the current unmet demand for water.
- Water is directly related to food security, agriculture consumers 70% of the available fresh water. Water is, therefore, a critical factor as 7.4 billion people demands food daily. The United Nations estimates that water scarcity affects 1.2 billion people in the world and over 400 million people experience water shortage. Added water shortage exposures over 1.6 billion people to starvation as water is required to produce food. The worst hit areas include Africa and Middle East where rain patterns are unfavorable and water is scarce. The regions also lack water recycling technologies that would enable recycling of the little available water as seen in developed nations. The United States pumps over 90% of the recycled water to farms ensuring sufficient water for irrigation and food security. Example, California is home to 250 water recycling plants pumping 46% of the water for irrigation.
- Water recycling also has numerous benefits to the environment, recycling ensures that sensitive ecosystems receive an adequate amount of fresh water. Human beings share the 1% of available fresh water with plants and animal species both on land and aquatic. Natural plants, wild animals, and aquatic species need fresh water in their habitats to reproduce. Diversion of fresh water to meet domestic, industrial and agricultural use threatens the health of the ecosystem. Diverting water leaves little and contaminated water available for other species leading to their death. Agriculture consumes 70% of available water, recycling waste water will ensure more water flowing into the ecosystem.
- Recycling of water prevents the discharge of waste and contaminated areas such as lakes, rivers, land or the ocean leading to the death of aquatic life.
- Recycled water is pumped back to wetlands ensuring that wildlife does not lose its habitat.
- Water recycling ensures enough water for irrigation and other uses such as landscaping. Landscaping is important to human health mainly in overcrowded cities. Plants absorb Carbon Dioxide from the air reducing global warming effects. Recycling water ensures enough water to keep suburbs’ clean and reduce the “heat island effect.” Heat Island effect refers to a situation where structures such as buildings and vehicles absorb and retain too much heat. The heat can not disperse naturally and in the absence of vegetation will result to decrease in oxygen in the air. The “heat island effect” results to urban areas having high temperatures due to extreme heat retention and lack of vegetation to clean the air.
- Recycling water ensures enough water for human recreation infrastructure such as swimming pools. Swimming pools provide a way for people to relax and learn basic skills such as swimming. However, swimming pools require a constant supply of fresh water in thousands of liters. Re-filling swimming pools wastes water need for other domestic uses such as cooking and drinking. Recycling water from swimming pools ensures that the water can be reused several times without posing any serious health threats.
- Recycling water facilities energy conservation and also production. Recycling water ensures less electric is required to pump water from intake points located thousands of miles in rural areas. Recycled water is also used as a cheap alternative to the cooling of nuclear reactors. An example is the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona, the plant includes a separate recycling plant used to recycle wastewater from the surrounding settlements. The nuclear plants freshwater allocation is then diverted to other critical domestic uses such as drinking, cooking and sanitation.
- Recycling of water is important to ensure the recharging of underground reservoirs for future use.
Water recycling is critical to evade a water crisis, global bodies mainly in Africa must invest water recycling technologies. Recycling water will ensure the current supply is allocated to domestic use and also provide enough water for agricultural, industrial and recreation. Developing nations face food shortage annually due to lack of water for irrigation. Recycling water will ensure enough water for agriculture, thereby, boosting food production and security.
Recycling water ensures environmental conservation by preventing the discharge of waste water into the ecology. Governments should pass legislations ensuring 100% recycling of all waste water to ensure ecological safety.
In conclusion, the current natural water supply can not meet the domestic, industrial and agricultural demand. Increasing population increases the demand for water and also food. Water recycling is the viable solution to meet water demand and also ensure food security. Water recycling will also ensure environmental conservation by preventing ecological damage by contaminants in waste water.