Water policy, economics and technology

The lack of water will make trouble for us in the near future. The increasing urbanization will contribute to this trouble in a major way, and large cities with many millions will fare the worst.

2,5% of the earth´s water is fresh, with 0,3% in rivers and lakes, 30.8% in the ground and 68,9% in ice and permanent snow. Most water is saline. 

Infrastructure is not being built fast enough – organizing this will be a huge challenge.

 Water can be desalinated, transported from away, or reused with the help of various technological solutions. Both mechanical and biological solutions are being developed. Many large schemes for transport of water are found, and new ones will be built.

Climatic changes will play a part via floods and droughts that will make unstable conditions.

10-20% of water needs to be clean for food and personal hygiene, 80 % can be of lower quality. We are now piping only clean water in to the house. In the near future we will perhaps pipe in 2 or 3 quality classes and releasing the “grey”, the “black” and rainwater in separate pipes. The toilet system becomes separate with hygienic treatment so that the waste is used as fertilizer and water is rinsed and reused.

A person uses 200 liters of water pr. day; 20 liters are for drinking, food and personal hygiene. We can rinse and reuse most of the water. Water from the 2 best quality classes can be collected in a dam together with rainwater and used for watering the garden or washing the car.

The ownership of water will be a source of conflict – examples are Spain, Egypt and also water from China ending up in the Mekong delta. The control of water gives power!

Food production is water intensive – between 80 and 90 % of the worlds water is used there – and could in principle be moved to the most water-rich areas. This is not easily done.

Universities need to offer education in this interesting and complex field, so that we can solve the political, economic and technical challenges arising.



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