From Scarcity to Sustainability
Water Management Conservation
Author: Tanya Bunge Sustainable water management means ensuring sufficient water for the world's agricultural, industrial and municipal needs without compromising Earth's future generations' ability to enjoy the same rights. According to the CDC, a staggering 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to adequately sanitised water in their homes. At the same time, WHO reports that one in three people globally cannot access safe drinking water.
Everyone on Earth has the human right to access 20 to 50 litres of clean, safe water daily to sustain life and decent, basic sanitation. Unfortunately, too many don't have that privilege because freshwater is not evenly distributed over the planet's surface.
Image credit: U.S Geological SurveySurface water
Untreated surface water is unsuitable for drinking due to pollution from various sources and is also very limited. Well-built dams can help to provide a sustainable water supply, but large projects may cause challenges to sustainability and negatively impact the environment.

Groundwater is more than 50 per cent of the world's freshwater and is essential to our potable water supply.

The IWA cautions that unsustainable groundwater results in a declining water level and low-quality water, which impacts local communities.

Desalination provides adequate water for some countries lacking fresh water; however, this uses a lot of energy compared to utilising surface and groundwater. The IWA moves that sustainability can be enhanced by using renewable energy sources, like the sun.

Water reuse
China and Spain are the forerunners of water recycling, and this lessens the strain on surface and groundwater. Reused water must be treated before it is of acceptable quality for irrigation or industrial use.

Water Sustainability Projects
Here are three examples of very different water sustainability projects:
Omdurman Water Supply Optimisation Scheme, Sudan.

Downstream of the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan, an ingenious intake structure was constructed to manage challenging river level changes, strong currents and vast deposits of silt carried down the river during the annual rainy season. This structure copes with up to eight-meter variations in the water level and the immense weight of the silt carried in the water.

Designed by Biwater, the Omdurman Water Supply Optimisation Scheme deals with the critical drinking water shortage in that area. It is one of sub-Saharan Africa's most innovative steps towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

HWRP (Huaifang Underground Water Reclamation Plant)
'Beijing's sustainable solution for ecological water reuse' was awarded Gold in the 12th IWA project innovation awards. Designed to combat human waste treatment pressure in south Beijing, this 31-hectare wastewater recycling plant also aimed to provide better quality water from the Liangshui River.

This 162 000 m², 3-floor plant was installed underground to conserve land space. It implements one of the forefront technologies of this age and produces level four (IV) Environmental Quality Standards for surface water. The underground factor also reduces noise and foul smells emanating from the plant. Grey water is destined for municipal and industrial purposes, with treated sludge recycled as forest soil enrichment and landfill.

AICCA, Andean project
Peru, Columbia and Bolivia's Andean regions are hosts to a project known as AICCA. This project focuses on climate change, effective and sustainable crop irrigation, and producing clean water. $10 million has been donated to the project by the Global Environment Facility and the Bank of Latin American Development.

AICCA aims to address climate change while focusing on sustainable water management in the Andean regions.

Conserving water at home
According to Acciona, 783 million people need easy access to safe drinking water.

Do your part for sustainability. You can conserve water at home by using these tips:
  • Shower don't bathe.
  • Turn off the faucet while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • While running the water, waiting for it to heat, conserve water by using the runoff for other things like watering your plants.
  • Water your plants at night.
  • Please wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is full before running them.
  • Use your toilet as something other than a waste disposal unit.
  • Placing 2 x 500ml bottles full of water in your cistern will save 2 to 4 litres per flush.
  • Fix any faucet or pipe leaks immediately.
  • Use regulators or aerators to reduce water flow.
These tips will help you conserve water and save up to 30 per cent on your water utilities bill.
Water is the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival.