Let’s be honest, Episode 22: Freshwater Quality and Sustainability

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle project to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to making life more sustainable and the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world, creating a uniquely multicultural environment.

Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!

What are we talking about?

The quality of freshwater is one of the main concerns in the world. Although climatic conditions in recent years have had a detrimental effect on the trend of freshwater change, on the other hand, access to water is one of the primary and controversial factors. Water consumption has become challenging due to the type of need. For example, water consumption in the deserts or areas with drought stress is a significant water supply challenge. Another hand, in areas with sufficient water, the problem may be related to delivering safe water free of industrial pollutants.

On the other hand, numerous plant and animal species, such as humans, need water. Deficiencies of this vital substance may affect their survival. As well as water shortages in agricultural areas may lead to reduced food production and lead famine, and drought. One of the main topics studied in goal 15 of Global Sustainable Development is the issue of freshwater quality. Water pollution can lead to considerable troubles in our lives. These contaminants also have a direct impact on other animals' lives.

Industrial development and pollution caused by the manufacturers also intensify global warming, acting much stronger. The issue of water pollution has increased environmental crises due to the scarcity of water resources in many parts of the world. As one of the management branches in ecological science, water management has tried to create solutions to this trouble by directly facing the water crisis in different regions.

“Freshwater resources on the earth diminish fast. The resources are concise but the degradation in the form of pollutants is continue as a non-stop process and the situation of dealings is alarming (Tripathi and Pandey 2009). Pollution is created in water by industrial as well as commercial waste, agricultural practices, anthropogenic activities, and most notably, modes of transportation (Owa 2014). Some of the major factors which are responsible for causing water pollution are the growing population, rapid industrialization, and urbanization, the use of science and technology, and modern agriculture practices (Haseena et al. 2017). (Humaira Qadri and Rouf Ahmad Bhat, 2020)” [1]

Damage assessment: How much did we lose?

Industrial pollution Indicators and indicators related to the increase in industry activity and its secondary pollution seem to have significantly contributed to global warming and the water crisis. We can implement natural resource management programs, especially water, more accurately when we analyze these indicators. Damage examining indicators as one of the most important issues can help create an overall perspective of circumstances.

“It is clear from the proliferation of water-related indices over the last two decades that there is a need for assessments of freshwater systems, and an improving capability to tailor these assessments to the informational needs of different end-users. There will always be competing demands on water resources, and in much of the world, these demands (and stressors) are increasing. These have come to the forefront with the looming and current freshwater crisis, and climate change could exacerbate existing tensions. Synthetic ways to measure and balance all of the needs and uses of water resources are essential to understanding and managing freshwater resources and their stressors. (Derek Vollmer et al., 2016)” [2]

On the other hand, the economic and social effects of the freshwater shortage have led to more attention to the issue of water supply for communities. The lack of water resources also causes negative ecological changes. The process has made it a top priority to assess the severity of damage and reduce the risk of natural resource management programs.

“Human use of freshwater is influenced by three separate but related components: the natural hydrological cycle, which largely determines the availability and quality of water; the nature of human demands for water, which is a function of population size and social, cultural, and economic factors; and science, technology, and institutional factors, which provide practical tools and strategies for managing freshwater systems. (Peter H. Gleick, 2018)” [3]

New targets are created in the water reclamation system by adapting further information and the amount of damage caused. The changes in the system will be evident if our evaluations are done carefully on the indicators. Identifying these changes concerning the environment and urban life transmits valuable information to our analysis system.

Freshwater and Sustainability

Management of watershed is related to environmental management that integrates natural resource management for sustainable water development by equipping projects related to the collection of wastewater resources in nature and leading them to industrial activities following sustainable production. Stormwater and floodwater in nature, which often accumulate by natural disasters, are driven by engineering solutions for sustainable development projects. Therefore, it will compensate for a large amount of water shortage problems. Topography analysis and use of satellite imaging, and calculation of parameters are the most critical indicators in this method.

“The new ethic of sustainable development reinforces and extends the principles of integrated water management, such as the socially equitable distribution of costs and benefits, economic efficiency, and the achievement of noneconomic objectives, including maintaining environmental integrity and eliminating irreversible effects (Simonovic, 1996). Approaches to sustainable water resources management can, thus, utilize and build on the objective insights of physical geography in applying the principles and practice of hydrology at the catchment scale, but must also draw upon the social sciences and incorporate qualitative judgments when trying to assess progress toward more sustainable conditions. (Antonio A. R. Ioris et al., 2006)” [4]

“The process of environmental development and projects to reduce global warming will have better results if they have solutions compatible with nature.”

Water Pollution

As mentioned, industrial pollution has irreversible effects on freshwater sources. Cleansing water is a very costly duty. On the other hand, cleaning the riverbeds has irreversible environmental effects and causes high costs to nature and human life. In some areas, pollution from rivers has led to diseases in the surrounding areas.

Water pollution is generally induced by humans. It results from actions of humans carried on to better self. These could be treated under the various activities that man engages in, that lead to pollution. The growth of the human population, and industrial and agricultural practices are the major causes of pollution (Eguabori, 1998). Water pollution becomes worse as a result of overcrowding in urban areas. Agricultural, domestic and industrial wastes are the major pollutants of agnatic habitats. Sewage is the biggest pollutant of fresh water when discharged into them. Sewage is the waterborne waste of society and the discharge of untreated sewage into a river is very enormous and unhealthy. (F.D. Owa, 2013) [5]

The issue of water pollution is much more severe in developing countries because the costs of water treatment in these areas are much higher, and the residents have to pay more than their income.

In Conclusion

Integrating implementation methods into water resource rehabilitation programs requires analysis of indicators. On the other hand, the integration and cooperation of water and environmental management knowledge as a powerful team can create nature-based solutions following ecological standards. Reducing urban and industrial pollution can reduce the cost of drinking water treatment and sanitation based on sustainable development standards. Although home freshwater treatment methods have helped the health system in recent years, funding for mass production of these appliances seems necessary due to the high cost of these methods. Supporting startup projects in freshwater can help reduce the cost of home freshwater purifiers because supply and demand will be commensurate with reduced production costs and price coordination in the market.

Author: Majid Zamanshoar


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  1. Humaira Qadri and Rouf Ahmad Bhat, The Concerns for Global Sustainability of Freshwater Ecosystems, [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mohammad-Mehmood/publication/334653958_Fresh_Water_Pollution_Dynamics_and_Remediation/links/5d3855b7299bf1995b47004a/Fresh-Water-Pollution-Dynamics-and-Remediation.pdf#page=15

  2. Derek Vollmer et al., Assessing the sustainability of freshwater systems: A critical review of composite indicators, [online] Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-016-0792-7

  3. Peter H. Gleick, Transitions to freshwater sustainability, [online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1808893115

  4. Antonio A. R. Ioris et al., A Framework of Indicators to Assess the Sustainability of Freshwater Systems, [online] Available at: https://www.academia.edu/download/35713831/PGEO2027n05_396-410-Ioris.pdf

  5. F.D. Owa, Water Pollution: Sources, Effects, Control and Management, [online] Available at: https://www.richtmann.org/journal/index.php/mjss/article/view/1760/1764

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