THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER
I am writing this whilst sitting on a flight watching a BBC television report. Whilst the news is talking of one crisis, I’m flying off to investigate another. Much of the world’s attention is focused on the possible collapse of the euro. These are the problems, at least initially, of the rich. The crisis I am investigating receives much less media attention and yet is potentially much more serious. Water scarcity affects one in three people in the world and it is likely to get worse. According to the UN, half of the world’s population will be living in areas of what they call “water stress” by the year 2030
Although access to water is essential for life, it is so freely available in much of the developed world, that we give it little or no thought. But the lack of available clean water is becoming one of the biggest issues facing the growing population in many areas of the world.
I am on my way to Israel to investigate how serious the challenge is and what possible solutions there are
Because of the tight deadlines needed to produce the television series Horizons, we find ourselves here during Jewish New Year. It’s both a fascinating and frustrating time to be in the country. It is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar, so a key time to be in the
country but that also makes it a difficult time to work and do the large amount of filming and interviewing we need to do.
The Middle East and North Africa is home to 5% of the world’s population but has just 1% of its fresh water. Since these are some of the hottest places in the world, the lack of water is a major issue. 97% of water on the earth is salt water and some 70% of the remaining fresh water is frozen in glaciers and the polar icecaps.
A combination of population growth, urbanisation and climate change is threatening the lifeblood of our planet. So I’ve come to a part of the world which is already experiencing high water stress but it’s also a country at the forefront of trying to alleviate that stress with cutting-edge technologies.
I’ve come to Kibbutz Amiad. Fed and indeed watered by a very hospitable group of Kibbutzim who have taken time from their family
holidays to show us their water technology plant. The boss of their water business, Arik Dayan, explains to me how they are developing innovative filtration techniques to improve existing water sources without the use of chemicals, but ensuring they still meet tough international water standards.
Here in Israel they lead the world in their use of water technology. They recycle a staggering 72% of their waste water. Spain trails in Israel’s wake in second place recycling a mere 12%.
His machines, he says, can treat sewage water so effectively that they can turn it into drinking water. He has the technology to do it, but consumers in Israel and regulators don’t yet have the taste to drink water they previously flushed down the toilet. However he says such technology is being used to do that already in Singapore. It is only a question of time, he claims, until the world will be forced to follow suite. It is technology developed here in Israel he claims which could help revolutionise the way the whole world views its water resources and that time may be coming soon.
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Follow our adventures in the world of new ideas at Horizons at @HorizonsBiz. The programme is broadcast on BBC World News. Its website is http://www.horizonsbusiness.com