Every form of life depends on water for existence. Water is also critical for most industrial processes. However, misuse and pollution of water are making it a very scarce commodity although most of the world population does not realize this. This paper describes water scarcity, factors behind the scarcity and the possible methods of protecting and conserving it.
At an industrial level, a good water management plan (WMP) is mandatory. Apart from saving water, the good WMP benefits the industry in various other ways. These are described in the paper. It also considers various methods of saving water at home and the possibility of forced water conservation in cases where consumers are ignorant.
What is water? How and why do we need to conserve it? These are very important questions when considering sustainability of life in the future. Most people especially in the developed world do not realize that sustainability of life in the future is at stake if measures to conserve water are not implemented.
This is because through out their lives, these people have had readily available fresh water (Cheng, 2010). Their taps and showers never run out of water, the water closets always flush and even when they need ice, the refrigerator has more than enough. The only people who realize that water is scarce are those from arid and semiarid regions where getting a cup of clean drinking water counts as one of their greatest challenge.
In the developing countries of Africa and the Middle East, women from some places walk for six kilometers a day just to fetch water. Even in their cities, water crisis is not a new thing. This has not been felt in the developed countries because of the well-established infrastructure, which is absent in the developing countries. Due to this, the issue of water scarcity is assumed to only affect the developing countries.
However, this is not the case and Live Earth CEO has warned that in 20-25 years time, there will be a disaster in developed countries (Mueller, 2010). There is therefore a dire need to protect and conserve water in our daily domestic and industrial activities.
Water is a unique compound. It exists naturally in three physical states namely: solid, liquid and gas unlike many other compounds.It is vital for sustenance of life; it transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, normalizes body temperature, regulates Earth’s temperature, removes wastes, protects tissue, and many other functions (“importance of water,” n.d.).
Without water, standard animals would only survive for a few days.At an industrial level, all manufacturing and processing companies require water somewhere along their production lines.Water is therefore important not only for existence of life, but also for economic activities.It needs to be protected and conserved.
In order to show effectively the importance of conserving water, it is imperative to show the logical reasons for doing so. Since it is a known fact that 80% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, someone may ask how then water can be scarce. To answer this question, water is scarce because only less than 1% of this surface water is fresh water (“The water cycle,” n.d.).
Almost all of our daily needs such as drinking, cooking, irrigation, manufacturing and many others require this fresh water. Apart from the surface water, there is the ground water. This water is also available for use but over the years, the water table has been decreasing day by day. Boreholes dry up and deeper ones need to be drilled.
Another problem with availability of water is water pollution. Although Earth’s processes recycle water, its pollution makes it unavailable for future use. Factory discharges, pesticides and herbicides, sewage waste, detergents and all other chemicals that we use on the surface affects the natural water sources. Pollution is therefore acting as one of the major reasons of scarcity in portable water. Measures to protect and conserve water can be applied at domestic and industrial level.
Industries should also strive to conserve water. To do this, they need a water management plan (WMP) which is effective. For the water management plan to be effective, it must incorporate both systems and technical approaches (Mohan, 2007). This is because incorporating both systems and technical approaches ensures that water management is sustainable.
That is, the plan will effectively manage the water usage at the current state of the company as well as in the future. The change in management priorities or departure of a champion for the plan does not jeopardize the WMP. Therefore, an effective WMP ensures continued improvement in water conservation. All companies that are planning to conserve water must have an effective WMP.
Traditional water management systems only incorporated the technical approach and sustainability was a problem. Mohan (2007) describes the characteristics of a good WMP to be leadership, accountability, efficient water usage, minimized pollution, addressing behavioral changes in water usage, driving development of data collection and reporting of water usage, specifying the benefits and costs of the system to the company and driving changes in how the company interacts with suppliers.
By ensuring that the water management plan of the company meets these characteristics, sustainable water management by the company is achieved. The company also achieves other benefits. It saves costs, aligns water conservation with corporate strategy, good public relation and citation for obtaining subsidies among others. The plan also has the overall effect of minimizing water shortage.
At home, every individual can contribute at protecting and conserving water. If everybody is made aware of the importance of conserving water, the world’s population may safeguard its future and that of the future generations.
One of the areas in which people can save water is through minimizing the quantity of water spent every day. People use water without caring if there will be more tomorrow. They just know that if there is no water, they will complain to the city council and the problem will be solved. This is especially the case if the families can afford the clear the water bills.
People misuse the water because they can pay for it. They spend too much time in the shower, leave the taps running unnecessarily and excessively water their lawns. These are just a few examples of some of the ways people use excessive water in circumstances that would require less water. By making people aware of the effect their activities have on water availability, some wasted water will be conserved.
Apart from conserving water, individuals may also protect water sources from pollution. Use of environmental friendly detergents and other household chemicals will have a positive impact on minimizing the level of water pollution. By minimizing water pollution, the costs involved in treatment and purification of water will be used to implement other infrastructure in water management.
Leaving the option of conserving water to individual citizens may not be very effective since some of them may not care much. The authorities involved in provision of water should put in place measures that force the consumers to conserve water. In Los Angeles, the city’s department of water and power has implemented several restrictive measures to cub water wastage.
Lawn sprinklers in the region are not permitted between 9.00am and 4.00pm (Welch, 2009). This ensures minimum water loss through evaporation. In addition to this, the sprinklers are only permitted twice a week a week (Welch, 2009). The result of these restrictions is that water consumption by single-family homes decreased by over 23 percent.
To be able to observe these restrictions, Los Angeles residents had to change the type of vegetation they planted on their compounds. They replaced grass that requires a lot of water with low water native plants like rosemary and synthetic grass. These measures by the city council were effective in controlling wastage of water.
It is worth noting that the city council determined the most water wasting activities performed by residents of Los Angeles and restricted them. This can also be done in other cities. If residents of Los Angeles, which receives very little rainfall in a year, can save water, residents of other places can save water too
Ensuring water conservation is a challenging task. It has many challenges especially since it mainly depends on people’s perception and willingness to change. To change people’s perception and habits, intensive awareness campaigns are needed and this requires a lot of investment.
With few bodies ready to support such campaigns, it is still not possible to reach every individual and change their water usage habits. At the industrial level, investment is also needed to implement WMPs. Most corporate organizations are not willing to make the step especially those focused on only maximizing their profits. These limitations therefore call for forced water conservation by authorities, which is not sometimes possible due to lack of such laws in many places.
Water is vital for existence of life. It is also important for economic activities carried out by man. The amount of water available on Earth is not enough to meet all its requirements. Further more, with the current excessive waste of fresh water and pollution, the life of future generations is at stake. If protection and conservation of water is not done, there will be a disaster in the coming few decades. The conservation measures are needed at both domestic and industrial levels.
At the domestic level, awareness is needed since most people in developed countries do not realize the importance of conserving water. Forced water conservation is even needed in some cases. At an industrial level, all companies should develop and implement an effective water management plan (WMP) that ensures sustainable water management. A good WMP has far-reaching benefits for the company as well as the society. (1640 words).
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Mohan, S. (2007). Practical Approach to Water Conservation for Commercial and Industrial Facilities. Amsterdam: Boston Elsevier
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