Water Technology

The Water Problem

Access to water and its efficient use will be one of the larger challenges of this century.

The anticipated water shortage is both a national and international issue. Even though it will likely affect less developed countries the most (as their populations will see the greatest increases and many are located in water-scarce areas already), the United States must also come to terms with increasing water consumption and increasing energy consumption on local, city, state, and industry-wide scales.

An International Problem

Currently, it is estimated that one billion people in the world lack access to safe-drinking water, and 2.2 million people die each year from consumption of contaminated water — 9,500 children alone die every day. If access to potable water cannot be assured, water could become the political gasoline of the future. This shortage presents a situation where application of advanced technology goes beyond marketing-speak to truly save lives and possibly prevent wars as well.

Water Scarcity, Through 2020
©1998 United States Filter Corporation

A National Problem, Too

For the United States (as well as other developed countries), the problem is not one of just access, but consumption. Most parts of the U.S. have adequate access to water, but access alone may not ensure an adequate supply to meet municipal and industrial needs Having said this though, it should also be noted that 50% of the nation’s future population growth is forecast to occur in California, Texas, and Florida. These regions are already experiencing moderate to periodically severe water shortages. At present per capita use rates, 16 trillion additional gallons per year will be needed to meet municipal and light industry uses. That's equivalent to ¼ outflow from all of the Great Lakes combined!

A Chance to Enhance Energy Consumption

Effective water reclamation and desalination affects U.S. energy consumption, too. Large volumes of brackish water are generated in conjunction with oil and gas production, with “waste” water produced at up to 30,000 gallons per minute (10:1 water:oil). Not only is this a wasted opportunity, but a costly one, too. When not re-injected, brine disposal costs $7-20 per thousand gallons.