World Water Day 2022: reducing waste through modern installation technologyriannelli
Tuesday 22 March was the thirtieth World Water Day. The United Nations 2022 Report on World Water Development was published for the occasion, and this year it was dedicated to groundwater. Pollution, overexploitation, and even wars increasingly threaten one of our most precious resources: potable water. Let’s look at how the choice of piping systems can also significantly reduce many of the risks related to protecting this fundamental resource.
The first World Water Day was established in 1992, following the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. This anniversary is part of Agenda 21, a set of directives to achieve completely sustainable development by the end of the twenty-first century.
The theme for 2022 is dedicated to protecting groundwater, which represents 99% of the liquid fresh water on our planet and is the source of 25% of all water used by humans.
UN-Water, the United Nations coordinating body for water policies, establishes a theme each year related to current and future challenges for the conservation of this precious asset. This issue is covered extensively in the annual report to provide ideas and themes for implementing sustainable water policies.
Groundwater, making the invisible visible:
Unleash the immense potential of groundwater today and protect the resource for tomorrow.
This is the title of the 2022 report produced by UNESCO to take stock of the situation related to the world’s water resources. Groundwater is a valuable resource for socio-economic development and ensuring adequate water supplies against the increasingly threatening climate change.
Despite how precious it is and its direct and indirect benefits, groundwater is not sufficiently taken into account, and adequate efforts are not made to protect and preserve it.
With the increasing water scarcity in various parts of the world, groundwater’s vast potential needs to be treated with more care and must no longer be underestimated.
This new enhancement of groundwater must start here and now by trying to “make the invisible visible.”
What actions can be taken to leverage groundwater?
First of all, we must pay more attention to climate change, increasing public awareness and making institutions conscious of the importance of a generalized reduction in water waste.
Too many potable water resources are still used by agriculture, industry, and human consumption. Nevertheless, we already have technology available that can, for example, re-use grey water in different applications where water purity is not essential.
In addition to the overly intensive use of groundwater, we also have another significant threat: groundwater pollution caused by plant leaks or the spillage of polluting materials used in agriculture and industries. Too often, in fact, the fittings and pipes that distribute fertilizers or other substances necessary, for example, for industrial processing, are obsolete, poorly maintained, and risk creating dangerous losses.
How can we intervene using plumbing systems to limit water waste and groundwater pollution?
Today, we use plumbing and heating installation technologies that can limit leaks from distribution systems, thanks to pressfittings and durable and high-performance materials such as AISI 316L stainless steel and carbon steel.
Thanks to the patented “double safety” of Eurotubi pressfittings with their “coloured sleeve + multi-segment LBP O-ring”, we can see if all joints have been completed when performing the system pressure test. This technology is a further guarantee to prevent potable water leaks, in the case of sanitary facilities or, in the case of potentially contaminating fluid conduction plants, to prevent them from polluting the groundwater.
The efficiency of the plumbing systems and any leaks and malfunctions can be easily monitored using electronic and optical sensors. The data obtained can be controlled by computer programs and analyzed using artificial intelligence, bringing the system performance and, consequently, the protection of potable water to levels that, until a decade ago, were almost unthinkable.
Groundwater and climate change
Groundwater can offer our planet many opportunities if adequately cared for and leveraged. It is, in fact, a precious reserve and offers “free,” safe, and non-invasive storage space, which does not impact the rest of the ecosystem in any way.
Unfortunately, climate change directly impacts the reserves and the natural groundwater supply. Just think of the scarcity of precipitation and the disappearance of many small and medium-sized streams.
Groundwater resources are also valuable for their ability to mitigate possible floods and other possible natural disasters if surface water supplies are threatened.
Global warming is leading to a slow but unobstructed increase in saltwater while decreasing the amount of freshwater available. Plus, the increased saltwater often penetrates the fresh groundwater near the coasts, affecting them in an often irreparable way.
We may be led to think that the presence of less but more intense precipitation can increase the amount of water stored underground. However, with climate change, certainty about where and when these weather events will occur has been decreasing. Consequently, global projections of the amount of groundwater available have also become quite unpredictable.
The good news is that groundwater is less exposed to loss through evaporation, and if underground sites are well protected from external contamination, they can become an excellent water supply and reserve without, for example, having to suffer the negative environmental and social impacts of the use of infrastructures such as dams and reservoirs.
Groundwater and agriculture
Groundwater is a strategic resource for agriculture, livestock, and many food production processes, especially in the driest areas of the planet and where rainfall is minimal. In these areas, more than 70% of groundwater resources are allocated to agriculture.
By 2050, the development and better care of groundwater may be able to improve agricultural productivity and, consequently, economic growth through the extension of arable land.
Groundwater and industry
In areas where the quantity and especially the quality of water are essential factors for industrial production, the possibility of using underground basins at a sustainable cost is undoubtedly a key factor for employment and economic growth.
Industry and energy account for 19% of global freshwater extraction, including groundwater.
The industrial sectors that usually use groundwater are:
- Metal extraction and mining;
- Power generation and oil and gas production;
- Engineering and construction;
- Processing of materials and raw materials;
- Food and beverage production industries.
To reduce or prevent the negative impacts of industrial groundwater use, water must be used responsibly, taking into account local water scarcity issues and sensitive water reserves.
An excellent form of collaboration between different industries is to make wastewater from, for example, fruit washing plants available to those industrial processes that do not require strictly potable water (e.g., cooling or process water).
Re-using wastewater for other industrial functions should always be a general priority, especially in the current context of technological innovations, where water treatment and remediation systems can remove pollutants at more than acceptable levels.
Smarter groundwater management
In many countries, resources dedicated to groundwater management, monitoring, and conservation are minimal and not taken into account.
The right path to take is to try to improve the integration of the development and sustainable management of underground resources, with general plans to support and implement the entire water network.
The various governments worldwide must become completely aware of their role as groundwater “guardians” by treating it as one of our most precious assets.
The world demand for water is destined to continue to increase. In addition, surface water resources are increasingly scarce and subject to various threats, especially those dictated by climate change.
The positive side of the issues related to groundwater reserves is that the postulated crisis can be seen, but it is taking a relatively long time. This “peculiarity” leaves us enough time to find solutions and try to solve any problems while enhancing their potential. Groundwater may be out of our immediate sight, but it must certainly not be out of our minds.
Creating and implementing technological innovations, also with regard to potable water distribution systems, is a mission that all of us in the plumbing and heating sector should always keep in mind.