Earlier this year, my company WaterFilters.NET posed a challenging question to students nationwide:
“With an increasing global population, particularly in developing countries, what would you create to help reduce water shortages, and ensure all people had nearby access to clean drinking water?”
The best response would be awarded our $500 Future of Water scholarship, while two runners-up would be awarded a WaterFilters.NET Back To School Care Package.
Today, I am proud to announce the winner and runners-up for this challenge – and to share their responses with you.
A water shortage solution from our first runner-up, Steve Hanson, may be found below. A Moorhead, MN native, Steve is an avid golfer and is currently studying at William Mitchell College of Law.
Water is a precious resource that must be managed because only one percent of earth’s water is available for human use; and, in many areas of the world, water is not located where it is needed, or it is contaminated.
Clean Drinking Water is Critical
Having access to clean, pure water is critical. We all need water in order to survive. Unsafe drinking water can kill; nearly 4,000 children die each day from unsafe water. Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of the book Every Drop for Sale reports that upward of 10 million deaths per year are caused by water related diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Possible Solutions to Ensure All People have Clean Drinking Water
As the world population grows and pollution increases, it is becoming more difficult to ensure that all people have access to clean drinking water. In fact, today over 780 million people remain without safe drinking water. Thus, the world is desperately seeking water solutions as the primary aquifers are going dry because of the demands that are placed on them by agriculture and irrigation.
Some solutions to increase our access to clean drinking water are as follows:
- Delivering water from one location to another through pipelines
- Removing salt, desalination, from sea water
- Harvesting rainwater
- Filtering water through sand
- Boiling to destroy harmful elements
- Using surface water remedies such as rivers, lakes, and ponds
- Using chlorination and water treatment remedies
- Teaching populations how to manage/protect water sources
- Having private sector containers (large tanker ships) ship water
My Short-Term Solution to Managing the Water that is Available
Each above solution has the potential to help the water shortage in some manner. However, I believe that we must—due to the urgency of determining workable solutions—first seek solutions that will affect the greatest number of people in the shortest period of time. Seeking a short-term solution is important because over 780 million people today do not have adequate clean drinking water.
Therefore, I advocate for the following short-term solution: Initiate a United World policy (not the private sector) that would endorse the massive shipments of fresh water to the countries that have major water shortages. Water transfers may be the quickest and most efficient method to redistribute water world-wide and within the United States. This solution would involve shipping the fresh water from countries that have abundant sources of fresh water such as Alaska, Greenland, Northern Europe, Canada, etc., to the countries that have a severe fresh water shortage.
The water would be transported by supertankers and barges that have been converted from ships that carry petroleum products. Some older supertankers could also be converted into stationary storage containers for water that could be permanently anchored on shorelines. The ocean-going supertankers could then unload their transported water into the stationary vessels where the water would then be piped to storage facilities that are situated in land for distribution for drinking and agricultural use.
The Long-Term Challenge Remains
All people need nearby access to clean drinking water—both now and in the future. Regarding the future, statistics indicate that by 2025, at least three billion people will find it difficult to meet their water needs. Therefore, in addition to my short-term solution, long-term solutions must also continue to be explored and implemented. Water cannot be produced; therefore, we have to keep looking at technologies such as desalination of our oceans, recycling of wastewater, treating contaminated water, conserving water usage, etc. Providing access to clean drinking water will be one of the world’s major challenges of the 21st Century.
“Grand Challenges for Engineering.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.
“How Can We Ensure Clean Water for All? [Slide Show]: Scientific American Slideshows.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.
“Millennium Development Goal Drinking Water Target Met.” WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.
Pearce, F. When the Rivers Run Dry, Beacon Press, Boston, Ma, 2006. Print.
Rothfeder, J. Every Drop for Sale, Penquin Putnam Publishers, New York, NY, 2001. Print.
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