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Water Neutrality: How Can It be Achieved?

by | Dec 3, 2022 | Environmental Impact Assessment, Trending

Water is an essential natural resource; all living organisms depend upon water to survive. 75 percent of the planet is covered by water, and about 97.5 percent of that water is saltwater. Only 2.5 percent of freshwater is available for consumption. Humans consume about 10 billion tons of fresh water daily around the world. According to environmental experts and organizations, the world’s freshwater supply is gradually decreasing by the year.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80 percent of all diseases in the world are water-related. An estimate by the United Nations states that by the year 2025, 30 percent of the world’s population in 50 countries is likely to face severe water shortage problems. Water shortage is growing into a bigger issue daily. Humans consume most of the available water supply, and as our populations grow, so will the demand for more fresh water. The issue is worsening due to climate change and global warming. The problem will continue to grow unless we come up with a solution.

Water Neutrality: How Can It be Achieved? Water scarcity

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Environmental agencies and institutions have started to explore the concept and process of ‘Water Neutrality‘, as people across the globe begin to recognize the importance of their water footprint. It is a possible solution to reduce water usage and encourage positive actions within communities.

Water Neutrality

Water neutrality is the process whereby communities or institutions maintain a balance in their water usage by investing and funding projects that help increase freshwater supply and reduce water usage. It mainly focuses on reducing a region’s or institution’s water footprint. The development of a water-neutral project will not add pressure to the overall water demand of a region. It will eventually have a net-zero impact on natural water supplies.

Water neutrality aims to minimize the pressure on current water resources, the environment, and structures. We can apply the process of water neutrality to new and existing homes and buildings. We can also use it across various scales, from development areas to individual houses. This recently developed concept is focused on new builds and developments. Thus, it needs to be considered by developers.

Water neutrality will become a necessary requirement for all developments in the future as the existing water supply in the world decreases. Areas facing severe water shortages should consider the process of water neutrality. After a new development, the total water demand should be the same as it was before the development. Overall, the new development or building should not pressure the existing water supply in that area.

How Can Water Neutrality Be Achieved?

There are three steps to achieving water neutrality. They include reducing current water usage, recycling and reusing water on the particular site, and later offsetting the remaining water demand in the existing local community or region. You should always follow the three steps in this pattern. The first step includes efficient water-saving measures, while the next two steps include other alternative sources and the remaining amount of water offset, respectively.

Water Neutrality: How Can It be Achieved? Water Neutrality in the UK

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Reducing Water Usage

Reducing water usage is the first step in achieving water neutrality. There are a few steps to make your development more water-efficient. Developers can fit homes with several efficient products to save water as follows-

  • Efficient water devices attached and designed along with taps, toilets, urinals, showers, and other appliances can help reduce water usage. For instance, Manufacturers can create a low flush system below 4.5 liters for bathrooms, a flow rate of 1.7 liters/min for taps, a flow rate below 8 liters/min for showers, etc.
  • Fitting smart meters around houses can enable consumers to check their water usage and their water bills. This can help consumers make conscious decisions about saving water, identifying leaks, etc.
  • Developing water-saving behavior and culture within communities and buildings can help reduce water usage. You can achieve this through public education and awareness campaigns about the water shortage crisis and the importance of water.

Reusing and Recycling Water

Reusing water is the next step after reducing excessive water usage. You can reuse the recycled water for flushing toilets, irrigation, outdoor use, laundry, etc. You can apply the steps to new developments as well as individual homes:

  • Rainwater harvesting systems collect rainwater from roofs or other surfaces, which you can later reuse. This system can be carried out in large-scale communities and can range from simple to complex systems.
  • Greywater recycling collects used water from showers, basins, and bathrooms and is recycled and used again. This system requires a different set of pipes and drains so that you can collect used water, treat it and recycle it.
  • Blackwater recycling is usually the water recycled from toilets. To reuse this water, it needs to go through several treatments.

Offsetting Water

The last step includes offsetting any water demands by saving them in the existing local region or community. This is conducted in association with water companies, local businesses, or organizations. Following are various offsetting schemes:

  • Funding water efficiency audits
  • Donating an amount to housing corporations to retrofit their houses.
  • Retrofitting school buildings to enhance water efficiency.
  • Retrofitting public buildings and institutions with a water reuse and recycle scheme.
  • Educational and awareness campaigns about offsetting activities to support and promote water-saving culture and behavior.

Why Water Neutrality Is Important

The process of water neutrality can help to save water, which is just what the world needs today. A water-neutral home could save about 112,000 liters of water per year and around 43.8 kg of carbon emissions produced from the water supply. Reducing water usage in a home can also reduce water and energy bills to approximately £44 per home.

Water neutrality is good for the environment as it reduces the amount of water being taken from rivers, lakes, and groundwater sources. We will save more water for future generations by decreasing the current pressure on water resources. Recycling and reusing water will prevent water from going into gutters, drains, and eventually into the ocean.

In conclusion, water neutrality is a way out of the world’s current water scarcity/shortage crisis. We need to realize the importance of water before it’s too late.

 

Author

  • Sigma Earth

    The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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