Posted on July 16, 2013 by Deborah Deal-Blackwell
We have it so good here. Really. Yes, it’s true. Here in the section of the U.S. that stretches from about the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast, we are having a heat wave. It’s not THAT hot compared to say, Arizona, or maybe Death Valley! – but when you factor in the humidity, it’s miserable. (And I thought I was escaping the relentless steam bath I endured in Orlando, by moving to Northern Virginia. Ha!)
However, it’s still not so bad. Most folks seem to have air conditioning or some access to it. And, there’s plenty of water to drink, swim in, take refreshing showers in, etc.
Now, a part of Maryland that borders Washington, D.C. is about to see what it’s like to live like so many people have to outside of the U.S. Thousands of folks living in Maryland’s Prince George’s County are going to have the water turned off to their homes and businesses. The reason? Our country’s notoriously aging infrastructure is rearing its ugly head. In this case, a 54-inch water main is beginning to fail, officials say, and they must shut down part of the system to replace it. For as many as FIVE days. And, this event affects not only regular businesses and homes. It’s knocking out all the business at National Harbor, a popular resort and conference hotel area, and even Joint Base Andrews, the combo Air Force and Navy Base that’s the home of Air Force One. The media is full of advice on which pots and pans to fill up, how much each person will need, etc. but there is no getting around the fact this is going to be a BIG PAIN IN THE NECK for a bunch of Americans, and a good deal that serve our federal government.
Maybe it’s good however, for two reasons:
Maybe, just maybe, it will help highlight the issue of our infrastructure, which is literally decrepit in many areas.
And, # 2: Some folks are going to get a taste of what it’s like to live without running water.
True, no one in Maryland is going to have to walk two miles in bare feet in 100 degree temperatures with a gallon of questionable water on their head like folks must in Africa, Asia, South America and even parts of Mexico. But, maybe it will help open some eyes in this country about the urgency of the water scarcity situation on this planet. There’s nothing like going without yourself, to bring home others’ suffering.
We simply don’t have enough water on this planet. The total usable freshwater supply for humans and ecosystems is only around 200 000 km3 of water – less than 1 percent of all freshwater resources. According to the United Nations, water scarcity already affects almost every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions. To look at it another way, we are over-consuming our natural resources at an unsustainable rate. Scientists at the U.N. say that around 3.5 planets just like Earth would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American. And realize – everyone on the planet pretty much is striving to live like we do. Fat, happy and with plenty of water.
So, what are we going to do about it?
At IX Power we’re working on new ways to clean “produced” water – the water from oil & gas extraction and processing. We have a new way to clean it for use in irrigation, and by livestock and humans. That’s one of our particular water niches. But, we can’t do it alone. More effort by other labs, companies, and government entities needs to be put into finding solutions for the growing problem of water scarcity.
In Maryland, I expect their short-lived water incident will build some, albeit temporary, empathy and sympathy for those who are already without water. But what happens when the water is turned on again? Worse yet, what happens when the water crisis is no longer a temporary event for Maryland? For the rest of the U.S.?
For the rest of the world? South Africa is a water stressed country and slowly but surely there seems to be an increasing awareness of this precious resource we totally take for granted. More and more businesses and home owners are turning towards rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling as solutions to the problem. Please conserve water.