• What Happens if We Run Out Of Water?

Water/Wastewater

What Happens if We Run Out Of Water?

May 27 2015

We drink it, we wash with it, and we use it to water our crops, hydrate our livestock, power electricity farms and rely on it for a multitude of other applications. At the moment the earth is awash with water however it’s alarmingly uncertain whether or not there is enough to sustain us in the future. So what happens if the Earth runs out of water? Let’s take a look…  

The physical effects

For Earth as a planet, running out of water has some serious consequences. Already we can see them in examples such as California's Imperial Valley, where rapid groundwater depletion has caused the ground to cave in by 100 feet in the past 100 years. Environmental scientists predict that as well as sinking terrain over extraction of groundwater could also lead to an increased risk of earthquakes due to the fact that the Earth’s crust is becoming lighter. The overly buoyant crust will then start to rise which will release pressure on fault lines, thus triggering the tectonic plate movements that cause earthquakes.  Furthermore, studies have also shown that every year groundwater pumping causes the Sierra Nevada Mountains to gain an extra few millimetres of height.

The social effects

For global citizens the effects of worldwide water depletion will be catastrophic. In 1995, World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin predicted that "The wars of the next century will be fought over water" and he was not wrong. Yes, the world has plenty to fight about at the moment but at the end of the day oil, gas, religion, politics and other subjects don’t mean the difference between life and death. Water on the other hand, does. Should the world run out of H20 the scramble to secure access to fresh, clean drinking water will be ruthless. Conflict is already starting to emerge in the USA where 35 states are fighting over water supplies.

Recycling wastewater

Already, NASA is pioneering ways that the world can recycle every drop of water we have, including waste. The concept is already used on space ships however it could also be a savvy solution to solving any water crises that could come to light. According to retired U.S. Air Force general Charles Wald, long term solutions to water shortages will  require "some space solution, no doubt about it."

You can find out more about this by reading the following article: What is Recycled Wastewater?

Harvesting H20 from outer space

Thought wastewater recycling was extreme? NASA has also put forward proposals that involve firing rocket ships to icy comets, then bagging the body and transporting it back to Earth. Another plan is to use a next generation filtering system to harvest water from beneath the surface of Mars, then pump it back to Earth.

While there are some ‘out of this world’ solutions on the horizon none of them are ideal. The reality is that the planet needs to wise up on the water crisis and start to actively take steps towards preserving the precious resource, BEFORE it’s completely depleted.

To find out how much water we used carrying out daily activities read the following article: An Introduction to the Water Framework Directive.


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