Efforts to make clean water available to communities struggling with water scarcity must be science-driven, an environmental expert has said.
Emily Lindley who is Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says proper planning is also important if situations of water scarcity can be avoided.
“A lot of it is science-driven…We have a lot of creative engineers that can come up with desalination…and things like that, that we can continue to see develop.
“There are new technologies that people come up with all of the time…,” she told journalists who visited her office in Austin – Texas on the invitation of the Foreign Press Centers.
It is estimated that about 1.2 billion people or almost one-fifth of the world’s population live in areas where water is scarce. In Ghana, about 22% of the population does not have constant access to clean, potable water.
Over 1.6 billion people representing about one-fourth of the world population are also facing economic water shortage.
In the USA, the Texas State faced its most severe drought in 2011 with about 97% of the state experiencing extreme or exceptional drought.
That year was considered the driest year ever for Texas, with record low rainfalls and high summer temperatures that increased evaporation, further lowering river and lake levels.
“The biggest thing is planning. So you know what to work with. I think that is one of the greatest lessons the state has taken away since the drought in 2011…. How do you plan for the future,” Madam Lindley whose organization works to ensure only clean water is delivered to residents, noted.
Emily Lindley and two others
She, however, says decisions on water supply should be taken by local communities themselves and not controlled from the top. “We have a strong belief in local control and the locals having their local expertise to run their own systems…,” the Commissioner said.
Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board Peter Lake agrees plans for water provision must be scientifically driven and have local support as is done in his state.
“We believe in local control of water resources but we promise incentives for them to use our science…. the planning is usually built on science,” he said.
On other potential means of providing water to communities without clean water, Executive Director of the Water Reuse Association Patricia Sinicropi says water recycling is the way to go.
The organization believes efforts should always be made to re-treat already used water from communities for drinking, irrigation and other important purposes.
Patricia Sinicropi told Joy News, “the lessons learnt here in America is that water recycling can be done on a large scale to provide a variety of uses. From irrigation to home use to manufacturing processes. Prior planning is also important because such projects usually take 10 to 15 years to design… so you need to work on them as soon as possible.”
She says science and technology are deeply impacting water re-use efforts which can be scaled up to different parts of the world.
“The technology is becoming more sophisticated every day and we can look forward to the day when such technologies can be used by countries and states that don’t have high technological knowhow,” she said.
Asked why water recycling is important when there is more water on the planet than land, she said; “the water is not usually in the places where you need it most when you need it.
“Although we are fortunate to live on a planet which is rich in water, the majority of the water is salt water and a lot of the earth surface is, unfortunately, facing severe drought situation where water scarcity is quickly becoming an issue.”
Patricia Sinicropi says conscious efforts must be made to recycle water, describing it as the most sustainable means of ensuring the provision of clean water.
“The most important economic benefit of recycled water is that it’s a reliable and sustainable source. It’s not an imported source of water. You can control it.
“You know what is in it at any time. So you know its quiet affordable when you have considerations such as limited supply that are not in your control. And the ecological benefit is that you are not discharging potentially contaminating water in the environment,” she observed.