According to Wheater, Mathias and Li (2010), approximately 30 % of the world's land is comprised of arid regions; which are inhabited. Israel, a small country in the Arid Middle East, was faced with an immense shortage of fresh water because it has limited sources of fresh water. The actual supply of fresh water from renewable sources stands at 2 cubic kilometers, which is inadequate when compared to the nation's demands (Siegel, 2014). To make it worst the available fresh water resources are increasingly becoming saline due to regular interferences and global climate change. Inspired by the need to make sure that there is a reliable supply if fresh water, in light of the progressively more limited supply, Israel has advanced innovative techniques to conserve, improve and recycle its water resources at impressive rates. Desalinating the available ground water and sea water and waste water recycling have emerged as a result, turning around the tide and becoming the main sources of fresh water. This report explores the two approaches that may be utilized to guarantee constant water supply and assesses their viability.
Desalination, also referred to as distillation, is a process that involves the conversion of sea water to fresh consumable water. According to the National Academy of Sciences (2001), desalination is an ancient and famous method of treating water; hence desalination is very feasible, especially in guaranteeing fresh water supply in arid regions. Moreover, as argued by Mays (2009), the desalination process seeks to eliminate most contaminants of drinking water. Although the fresh water production through desalination is not largely utilized, with tens of millions cubic meters harvested daily through it, desalination can play an important role in the supply of fresh water to regions prone to drought. Therefore, the installation of additional desalination plants would augment the provision of fresh water; hence reduce the water demand in these regions.
In fact, a significant number of nations with the arid lands have already employed desalination to augment their water supply. Israel relies to a greater extent on desalinating sea and ground water to provide fresh water to their people. Most of these nations have realized significant growth in their economies over the past years by using desalinated water to drive economic development. Although the water shortage problem has not been solved completely, significant progress is being made by desalinating the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The first-ever desalination plant in Israel was set up in Ashekelon, a town located in the south of Israel, in the year 2005 (Pyper, 2014). Since then over four large scale desalination have been installed, to provide an additional capacity in the water supply system.
Over the past decade, desalination has come to provide over 50% of the countrys water supply, with the nation consuming over 600million cubic meter of desalinated water each year as from 2015 (Pyper, 2014). It is apparent that desalination is critical to the provision of freshwater to arid areas, as it has resulted in a resource revolution in Israel; the country is becoming increasingly recognized for its agricultural efforts because of irrigation projects that use desalinated water. It is important to take in consideration that Israel has reported significant economic development and growth even though they lack conventional sources of fresh water. Such economic development might be credited to the use of desalination, hence providing additional evidence in support of the argument that desalination of sea water could be a possible solution to the lack of water in arid regions.
Not all nations, however, can adopt desalination with the same level of enthusiasm like Israel, and there are various reasons. In most arid areas, many nations face analogous water and climate issues, though they lack the power to deal with issue effectively. On most instances, there are no funds to set up desalination plants, little technical knowledge on desalination process, lack of skilled labor and resources to effectively run a desalination plant as is the case with Israel. In fact, some countries may not even have access of oceans or seas to fetch water for desalination. However, there are possible viable remedies to this issue. Underground water may be harvested though the issue of salinity may also come to play. Nonetheless, there are multiple secondary treatment techniques that are cheap, such as introduction of chemicals or boiling to make sure the water is free from saline elements. It is apparent that desalination of sea water or underground water is a viable method of increasing fresh water supply in arid areas because it is significantly economical to install and conserve boreholes.
Waste Water Re-Cycling
According to Mays (2009), municipal waste including human and industrial waste may be treated to harvest water that can be consumed, under specific conditions. That is, biological processes may be employed to recycle waste water. Today, cities and municipalities in developed countries such as Israel have implemented biological waste water plants to boost their water supply. Especially in waste water recycling, Israel makes up a novel test case in science, technology, policy and infrastructure for other nations within arid regions and faced with intense water shortages that may be aggravated by global climate change and population growth.
Motivated to meets its water needs, Israel have become technologically optimistic by advancing a water policy that promotes efficient use of water; both public and private. The country has expanded its efforts from extensive desalination initiatives aimed at supplementing the renewable and natural water resources, to establishing biological waste water treatment systems to recycle the unmatched quantities. In fact, Israel recycles over 80 percent of the total municipal waste; which is higher than that of any other country in the world (Futran, 2013). It is approximated that recycled wastewater will cover over half of the nations agricultural demands by 2020. The main issue, however, with this method lies with assuring people that the harvested water is good for consumption. Most people, under normal conditions do not believe that waste water can be converted back to fresh water. However, as is the case with Israel, the national water policy demands that the reclaimed water should be totally used for agricultural purposes such as irrigation. The recycle and reuse of municipal waste water is economic and safe as opposed to other approaches. In fact, waste water recycling; unlike other methods do not require massive financing, with the exception being the capital that should be invested during the initiation phases.
There are, however, other various challenges that can be related to the recycling municipal wastewater, especially, concerning the execution and implementation decisions that are aggravated by the idea that relating the distilled water to existing water supply systems need infrastructure. Concerns have been raised over the skills needed to make sure that the projects involving water recycle succeed. Moreover, poor management and decision making in the awarding of development and management tenders for such projects possibly affect the success of these projects. However, it is important to understand that these administration challenges may be resolved, and that this method has been put into action. Consequentially, it may be maintained that the recycling of waste water is practicable and may assist in recycling and reuse of huge quantity of industrial and domestic use.
The two possible methods are compared in the following table:
|Desalination||Recycle of wastewater|
|Technical skills and knowledge needed in the implementation and maintenance of desalination processes.||Technical skills and knowledge required in the implementation and maintenance of the biological sewage treatment plant.|
|Has high cost of maintaining desalination plants.||Has high cost of maintaining the biological sewage treatment plant.|
|Harvested water must be treated.||Harvested water should undergo treatment.|
In this report, the feasibility of the two distinct methods that may be utilized in providing arid areas with fresh water namely, desalination, recycling municipal wastewater and tapping ground water, is presented. With the growing demand for fresh water and issues raised over climatic changes, countries in arid regions, such as Israel, have to realize the importance of advancing alternatives to upturn the supply of fresh water. The report has revealed that that desalinating sea or underground water, recycling wastewater are practicable solutions that may be employed to provide fresh water in drought-prone areas. As discussed, desalination and municipal wastewater treatment requires skilled labor and technological knowledge. However, a comparison of the two methods reveals that they are economically feasible and may guarantee sustainable fresh water supply in other arid areas like Israel.
Futran, V. (2013). Tackling water scarcity: Israels wastewater recycling as a model for the worlds arid lands? Global Water Forum. Retrieved 31 Mar. 2016, from http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2013/03/18/tackling-water-scarcity-israels-wastewater-recycling-as-a-model-for-the-worlds-arid-lands/Mays, L. (Ed.). (2009). Integrated Urban Water Management: Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: UNESCO-IHP (Vol. 3). CRC Press.
National Academy of Sciences (2001). More Water for Arid Lands: Promising Technologies and Research Opportunities. The Minerva Group, Inc.: Honolulu, Hawaii.
Pyper, J. (2014). ADAPTATION: Israel is creating a water surplus using desalination. E&E publishing, LLC. Retrieved 31 Mar. 2016, from http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059994202Siegel, F. R. (2014). Countering 21st century social-environmental threats to growing global populations. Cham : Springer.
Wheater, H. S., Mathias, S. A., & Li, X. (Eds.). (2010). Groundwater Modelling in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas. Cambridge University Press.
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