The issue of water sustainability has long been the subject of public debate and is being tackled seriously by several countries, such as Singapore. The island city-State off the south coast of Malaysia, with its limited water reserves, combined with a fast-growing population and economy, has emerged as a world leader in the management and recycling of water.
That country’s efforts in this area were triggered by a desire to reduce its reliance on nearby Malaysia as far as water supplies are concerned; a situation which has often led to diplomatic tensions.
In the light of these events, Singapore has set itself the target of reaching water self-sufficiency by the year 2060. It has become a model studied by experts from all over the world, who have noted how technology plays a key role in the optimisation of virtuous water management.
How technology helps to avoid water leakage
Singapore is an example for all countries that want to increase their water reserves and minimise waste through the use of technology, which is already helping to contain water leakage through the use of Big Data (the focus of a policy currently adopted in Singapore).
The next step is to purify waste water using several treatment processes: microfiltration, inverse osmosis and disinfection with ultraviolet rays.
The water obtained from these procedures is often used for industrial purposes. It is even clean enough to be drinkable.
Technological know-how is important but not, on its own, sufficient to obtain drastic results. In order to reach those objectives, considerable financial investment is required, as well as crucial changes in the habits of end consumers.
Also in that area, Singapore has proved a virtuous example to the world, setting up several pioneering public organisations in that sector in order to guarantee that the issue of water is kept at the centre of the political agenda.
In the Asian city-state, the construction of a new desalination plant is underway, which will have the dual purpose of rendering seawater drinkable and becoming an authentic green park.
Water reserves: why they must be managed well
The case of Singapore shows that the tools required to guarantee the sustainability of world water reserves are already available. Other countries are working on this issue, which is a positive sign, considering that if drastic measures are not taken, by 2030, worldwide access to fresh water will be 40% less than it is now.
China is also making efforts to avoid such a scenario. In 2017 alone, Chinese authorities launched over 8000 projects focusing on water purification, for a total investment of approximately 100 billion dollars.
Several initiatives aimed at modifying individual citizens’ behaviour with regard to this issue are already underway. They include educational campaigns in schools and heavy fines for those who pollute and the nomination of 100,000 ‘river managers’, people who are tasked with monitoring the safeguarding of water quality in the area where they live.
Other countries which have been particularly active in water recycling projects include Israel, Australia and Saudi Arabia, states which thanks to their rich supplies of traditional energy sources, have been able to develop extremely advanced technologies, such as inverse osmosis membrane plants.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith