Water Usage – How to Make it Sustainable by David Christian

The most sustainable ways to make clean drinking water for human consumption

A man collects water from a manhole in downtown Port-au-Prince, four days after a powerful earthquake devastated the city. Water from broken water pipes form underground pools. Picture from: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5516da6de4b0d6bbb54b38a9/55299889e4b056c5dc549ff9/55299960e4b056c5dc54a34d/1428789607747/Haiti_Earthquake_new_seq_020.jpg?format=2500w

Haiti has major issues regarding access to safe drinking water and sanitation. 4 factors have been highlighted as to what some of the causes are:

Geologic – rocks such as limestone and shale are vulnerable to karstification, which basically means that the bedrock (a solid rock under the Earth’s surface) is eroded and dissolved of rocks; then sinkholes begin to form (kind of like a natural drainage system). This leads to water sources such as lakes and rivers losing much of its water.

Ecologic – Haiti is a very poor country, but deforestation is another issue as many Haitians need firewood. Of course this is very bad for the environment as trees and plants regulate the air, but they also can protect groundwater from contamination; they acts as a filter.

Sociologic – there are many voodoo traditions; a source of water is seen as being sacred, but education is low and many people don’t understand if water is safe to drink or not, even when it looks clean.

Economic – some Haitians drink bottled water and others are drinking dirty water. They also don’t know how to make dirty or contaminated water drinkable, e.g. boiling, filtering.

There are a number of solutions, which can help the Haitian population – water tanks; boiling water with fire or using sunlight to kill bacteria; filtering systems such as Moringa, sand, charcoal and rocks; boreholes; rainwater collection systems (e.g. the rooftop system in Brazil); a desalination plant (turns seawater into drinkable water). They have access to various natural materials, which are cost effective and good for the environment; they need training and education to make this happen.

Considering the fact that we need 18 000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of meat and 200 litres to produce 1 kilogram of wheat – the UN recommends one meat free day per week

iStock_000012470041MediumMeat production contributes greatly to greenhouse gases emissions, e.g. factory process; transportation; animal feed which could instead be used for human consumption. 18 000 litres of water is used to produce 1 kilogram of meat; 200 litres to produce 1 kilogram of wheat. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) estimates around 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from animal feed production. When cattle for example produce manure, methane gas goes into the atmosphere. Methane is 23 times higher than what effect CO2 has on global warming and it’s estimated that because of the increasing demand for meat, production will double by 2050.

There should be one meat free day a week, which can go further and maybe many would consider excluding meat from their diet. The UK has an average of 50g of protein from meat consumed per person daily, which is 25-50% higher than the WHO (World Heath Organisation) guidelines.

The world’s second largest desalination plant in the Caribbean island of Aruba

3.DesalinationThe plant can produce a million gallons of drinking water daily. Powered by steam turbines – fire fuelled boilers provide steam and it works like a distillery – using a filtering system to separate the salt from the water – salt is also used for production. Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies (VWS) has around 2 000 plants worldwide – 2 billion gallons are produced daily.

The connection between water production and sustainable forestry

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2009 file photo, a deforested area is seen near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para. Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
FILE – In this Sept. 15, 2009 file photo, a deforested area is seen near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para. Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

Around 20-30% of greenhouse emissions are caused by deforestation, but saving around 2.5 acres of rainforest can remove a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere. All the world’s rainforests account for 20% of the air we breathe and it’s the most vital for eliminating greenhouse gases – more than any other types of trees and forests.

The rainforests need protecting; it’s vital for our planet, to help with fighting climate change. The rainforests also help to regulate weather patterns, store water, provide shelter and protection for many species (50 to 70 million – 2/3 of the world’s species) and even indigenous tribes (who’ve lived there for thousands of years); therefore it’s very important to keep the cycle of rainfall.

Deforestation can cause a dramatic change, causing problems such as droughts – this also affects the rest of the world and global warming will increase – many species will become extinct – even over 2 000 species of plants, which could possibly be vital for treating cancer or AIDS for example. Rainforests are the oldest constant ecosystem worldwide; they are 70-100 million years old, but during the last few centuries all of them combined have gone from 6 to 2.6 million square miles and this is continuing to decrease.

Sustainable water solutions for Saint Vincent as a whole and which elements are important

Saving the rainforest
Water saving systems
Water cleansing, e.g. filtering; heat
Campaigns; blogs; networking
Education and training
Reducing our carbon footprint, e.g. less meat; use less water




Water Usage – How to Make it Sustainable by David Christian
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