Clean Tech

‘Saving energy saves water’

K Giriprakash | Updated on: Mar 10, 2018

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Journalists/researchers team Circle of Blue’s Carl Ganter on the looming water crisis

The United Nations forecasts that 1.8 billion people will live in regions of “absolute water scarcity” by 2025. In India water access is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by 2050.

Recently, The Clinton Global Initiative along with the Qlik, a leader in user-driven business intelligence and Circle of Blue, a team of award-winning journalists and researchers reporting on water and worldwide resource issues, and other partners including Twitter, announced a project to address challenges associated with availability of fresh water.

In an email interview to the BusinessLine , J Carl Ganter, Managing Director, Circle of Blue, shares details about the global programme and how technology can help monitor water resources. Excerpts:

How grim is the scarcity of fresh water in the world and how bad is the situation in India?

The world’s demand for fresh water is growing so fast that scarcity is disrupting energy production, triggering food shortages, upending economic development, and threatening political stability. According to The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2015, “water crises” rank as the number one global risk and are emerging as serious threats to people, business, the environment, and political stability across the world.

According to current estimates amongst the regions which are most vulnerable to water scarcity in the next 20 years, India comes number second after Middle East followed by Mexico and the American Southwest.

What exactly are the reasons for water scarcity? Can something be done to increase the supply of fresh water?

There are three categories of water scarcity — Desert areas, Droughts and Economic Scarcity. In each case, the symptoms can be similar – for instance, a loss of agricultural productivity, poor nutrition, disease outbreaks, ecosystem damage, and job losses – but the underlying causes and solutions are usually different.

To combat water crisis, it is important to have access to transparent and trusted data about water use and availability. It is also important to build reliable water systems: Secure financing and with transparent management and operation of the systems.

The public can also do its bit by for example, purchase energy-efficient products when replacing the old models. Saving energy saves water. Reuse and recycle products to reduce your indirect water and energy use and subsequently lessen your negative impact on water resources. Reduce food waste. Wasted food translates to wasted energy. About 2.5 per cent of the US energy budget is “thrown away” annually as food waste. In addition, 25 per cent of all freshwater consumed in the US is associated with discarded food.

What kind of work do Circle of Blue and Qlik carry out in the area of fresh water scarcity and how has its impact been?

Qlik and Circle of Blue have worked for over five years to provide visual analytics to display important water data. Equitable, informed management of groundwater will help create sustainable water supplies and provide buffers for drought.

Through the Change Our World grant programme, Qlik and Circle of Blue have focused on positively affecting the most vulnerable.

According to water experts, ‘Water is the new oil’. Will there be any region which will have extremely high levels of water just like oil?

Water is unevenly distributed across the world, both in absolute terms and in per capita terms. China has 20 per cent of the world’s population but only 7 per cent of the world resources. The Amazon Basin, on the other hand, has enormous water reserves. Most of the world’s freshwater, however, is below ground. There is between 25 and 30 times as much water in aquifers compared to water in rivers, lakes, and streams.

What do policy makers need to do to bring changes in water usage? How can India go about it?

There are a number of levers available to policymakers. They can increase the price of water to encourage investment in water-saving technology. They can order homes, businesses, farms, and industries to implement the latest water-efficient fixtures. They can educate residents about water conservation. In India, government could reduce energy, farm subsidies that encourage wasteful pumping of groundwater.

Published on December 22, 2015
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