What is water sustainability?
While sustainable access to water sources has been an issue for a long time in many global locations, increasingly, it’s becoming an issue for the UK as well. Hosepipe bans may seem relatively trivial things, but they represent the coming of a far more significant issue.
While technological solutions such as desalination plants will likely play a role in the process of achieving water sustainability, it’s also essential that businesses and individuals change their water usage practices. That’s the side of water sustainability that we’ll be looking at here. For further reading, take a look at trusted resources such as the Water Hygiene Centre website.
Water sustainability refers to the practice of sustainable water usage in a wide variety of different settings. It requires acknowledging the fact that water is a finite resource that has to be used and managed in a certain way in order to ensure that it remains available for future usage.
Water is required by each and every one of us on a daily basis; the UN states that humans need between 10 and 50 litres of water per day for cooking, cleaning and drinking. Around 780 million people do not have access to this much water, and around 2.5 billion don’t have access to enough sanitation, defined as the ability to safely dispose of human waste.
Part of achieving water sustainability lies in ensuring high water quality. For most premises, meeting the needs of the occupants means providing plenty of potable water. This isn’t just a practical requirement – HSE regulations dictate that employers need to supply employees with a drinking water source that is free from contaminants, is accessible by all employees, and is at a suitable temperature for the work environment.
Ensuring that water sources are clean and safe in a sustainable manner requires a strategic approach; often, it’ll be necessary to bring in external providers to conduct training and carry out risk assessments to ensure that you’re not missing any regulatory requirements.
Encouraging sustainable behaviour
Small actions can add up to significant results when adopted by a large number of individuals. Encouraging sustainable behaviour on the scale of the individual is an essential part of achieving water sustainability.
Simple actions like turning the tap off when not using it and using low water-use dishwashers instead of washing up by hand can have a large cumulative effect. Encouraging this behaviour in the workplace needs to be carried out in a subtle yet firm and cooperative manner.
Alternative water sources
Achieving water sustainability will require thinking of alternative water sources. Water may come out of the tap, but it doesn’t originate in pipes – all water comes from a source, and we need to think of those sources in a more open-minded manner.
For Greece’s 6000 islands, experts have recommended a decentralised approach, where multiple solar-powered desalination plants are set up to serve the inhabitants.
This may not be a suitable solution for all situations, but it shows that thinking outside the box can result in creative, effective solutions.