THE World Water Day, themed “Nature for Water”, was celebrated on March 22.
It highlighted solutions that are hidden in the environment to solve our water problems. An increase in human population and economic activities have heightened pollution in water resources.
The global threat of water scarcity is a grave concern.
Destruction of nature has also contributed to climate change that directly impacts water resources, as well as our ecosystem.
Let’s get some answers from nature. Floodplains, freshwater swamps and wetlands have given a simple understanding that the rainwater may exceed normal levels and there are natural ways to contain floods.
Containing and releasing slowly is a natural mechanism that prevents flood. When we contain water during the rainy season, we can use it during the dry season to fight drought.
Dams have evolved to play multiple roles to solve drought, flood and water scarcity. They are used as a source of raw water that can be converted into drinking water and irrigation for agriculture. They can also be used for generating electricity.
Therefore, it is important that the nation preserves the environment that gives us protection from water-related disasters. We should reintroduce these natural and manmade systems to enhance our raw water security.
Two types of water cycles are involved in human civilisation.
The first is the natural water cycle by the environment.
The second cycle is the part where we extract water for our use and discharge the wastewater back to the environment.
When pollution load is low, the environment is able to control pollution. Therefore, we need to reinvent our part of the water cycle to ensure that we can reduce pollution loading and achieve pollution reversal in our water resources. This way, it is possible to reserve more clean water for future generations.
Efficiency in consumption of water and resources is important.
“Static” efficiency can be achieved by introducing legislation for mandatory labelling and minimum performance, or efficiency standards that can prevent old and wasteful technologies being used locally. This gives huge and broad savings in terms of improving efficiency in water usage.
“Dynamic” efficiency lies with the end-users’ behaviour pattern. There are also possibilities of reusing and recycling wastewater within a facility or in other non-potable demand areas. We tap the resources and optimise utilisation!
Rainwater harvesting is another solution to substitute water usage.
If we use more rainwater while maintaining our treated water use, it is equivalent to increasing our per capita water footprint and we will not be efficient.
Substitution cannot be seen as green technology; it must contribute to efficiency in water and resources use.
President, Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia