The Future of Water: 5 New Ways to Access a Diminishing Resource

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According to a UN Human Development Report over 1.2 billion people, roughly 17% of the world's population, live in areas where they lack access to clean drinking water. It's estimated that by 2025 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population could face water stressed conditions. 8640covmap700

Over the last century water use has been growing at twice the rate of the world's population. This is due to both natural as well as human generated phenomenons. Simply, there currently IS enough drinking water for everyone on the planet, however, much of it is wasted and polluted by industrial nations leaving geographically and environmentally challenged regions - mostly in the so-called third world - with little or no access to it. With the rapidly increasing rate of global climate change, by 2030 over half of the world's population will be in areas of high water scarcity. Water scarcity has the potential to destabilize parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, displacing hundreds of millions of people. While the future of water appears grim, many engineers, techies, and investors, are developing new ways to obtain life's most precious commodity.

 

1. Warka Water: An inexpensive, easily-assembled structure that extracts gallons of fresh water from the air.

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Although these structures created by Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas look like more like a Burning Man art installation, they could save many Ethiopians from the nearly six hour journey to find the nearest potable water. Warka Water works by collecting water condensation along a newly designed type of mesh hung from a woven jucus branch structure. One of the challenges in designing something for water extraction in sub-Saharan regions is coming up with technologies simple enough to be repaired and maintained without the need of engineers and high-tech gadgetry. Warka Water does just that. Constructed from bio-degradable materials, the 30ft towers can be assembled in less than a week without the need of a single tool. Each tower costs about $500 to make. The goal is that once they are implemented villagers can teach other people in the region how to construct them.

 

2. LifeStraw

LifeStraw, a 25 cm long, 29 mm diameter, plastic pipe filter now offers a viable means of saving tens of millions of lives every year. LifeStraw instantaneously filters turbid and saline water extracting common waterborne bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Enterococcus and Staphylococcunon. Each LifeStraw costs about $200 dollars and has a life of 700 liters.

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3. Ooho: the biodegradable future of the water bottle

It should be well known by now that plastic water bottles are bad for the environment. Well, here's Ooho, a biodegradable and edible membrane made of brown algae, to save the day. These natural water balloons created by three London design students cost less than two cents each to produce and can reduce environmental degradation as well as make watching people drink water much more entertaining for all.

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4. Billboards Condensing Water from Humidity

With roughly 700,000 people struggling to obtain clean drinking water in Peru, students at Lima's University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) built these amazing billboards that extract water from humidity. The future of water and roadside advertising will never be the same.

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5. Drinkable Toilet Water

Bill Gates has invested millions in a project by Manchester University’s Sarah Haigh, an expert in nanotechnology - the science of manipulating atoms in matter - that converts toilet water into drinking water. While the toilet has yet to be implemented and may sound like a disgusting option, it has the potential to save millions of lives. Who knows, it could taste better than our tap water here in LA.

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