The Contemporary Water Crisis
Water scarcity is a problem that has faced the world for centuries. Whether it is seasonal droughts, the effects of natural disasters, or geographic limitations of certain areas, many regions of the world have or are currently experiencing water scarcity. The concept of water scarcity has historically been associated with physical factors, such as a lack of groundwater or a heightened presence of chemicals in the water supply; however, water scarcity also includes economic water scarcity that has come about as a result of a lack of resources and infrastructure dedicated to a certain region. With more than 800 million people around the world lacking access to clean water due to this economic water scarcity, an increased exposure to disease from contaminated water has heightened incidences of illness and death. Worldwide, one out of every five deaths of children under 5 years of age is due to a water related disease.
Every individual has the basic requirement and right of access to clean water supplies and the present global infrastructure is not addressing this problem appropriately. From a global and local perspective, solving water scarcity is an issue that impacts nearly all facets of life. Individuals in these regions spend time they could use for education or professional development in the search of sufficient clean water. Aside from the moral imperative to ensure every individual’s right to clean water, addressing water scarcity would have a positive economic impact on these areas as well.
Current solutions to purify polluted water include distillation, gravity filters, and reverse osmosis systems. However, these products either cannot filter heavy metals and salts, have a low water output, require a power source, or are simply too expensive. Whereas, regions with bacterial and pathogen infiltration can suffice with gravity filters, other countries, like Nigeria and Ethiopia, require devices that are also able to remove metal contaminants, including lead and arsenic. This problem has highlighted a need for more accessible water purification technologies that have regional, socially-oriented system designs which facilitate access to potable water for low-income individuals while integrating into their daily routines. As a result, there is need for a more affordable product that is both economical in cost and energy and is able to tackle heavy metal contamination, along with the typical microorganisms, wastes, and sediment present in rural water sources.