Access to clean drinking water is one of humanity’s most pressing issues. Water remains a unique and indispensable asset to life on Earth, yet with the turn of a tap, much of the developed world can forget how precious our water resources are.

Every life form on the planet relies on water to a degree. In the world of people, it’s vital to institutions, such as sanitation, human rights, urbanisation, sustainability, and economic growth. 

But the hard fact is fresh water is relatively scarce, and unlike your local swimming pool, water isn’t evenly distributed across the world’s surface. Compounding this is that many countries still need more modern state infrastructure to provide their populations with a reliable supply of clean drinking water. 

Further, water pollution is on the rise, putting precious freshwater reserves at risk. However, the biggest driver of water scarcity is the number of people depending on it.

Providing enough water for all on a planet of over 7 billion people is bound to put a strain on natural resources. And as the population surges, so do the demands and pressures on our water supply, stretching apart and magnifying the already present struggles. 

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

Aside from the oceans, freshwater makes up about 3% of the Earth’s water supply, with just 1% that’s easy to access. This article will cover the scope of the world’s water supply, exploring the importance of our water and the central challenges to its sustainability before looking to the future, where answers to some of our most vital questions wait. 

Water Pollution: The Problem That Won’t Go Away

Where water goes, so do the nutrients, minerals, and life it carries. However, alongside the good stuff, contaminants like chemicals and pollutants also make the journey.

This truism goes to the heart of the water pollution problem. In other words, pollution is an issue that moves at the pace of our rivers and streams, ending up in the currents of the world’s oceans. 

It affects the plants and animals that rely on it, with the power to change and degrade entire ecosystems with its passage. In 2019/20, Australia experienced a second consecutive year of very low rainfall, leading to its driest 24-month period on record.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 40% of the country’s waterways suffer from water quality problems. Meanwhile, over half of its National Parks are failing under the Clean Water Act, the standards set up to protect them.

But this is just the beginning. In the oceans, our largest and most diverse ecosystems, that often remain out of sight and out of mind, there are massive dead spots where nothing can live due to pollution levels.

In fact, the latest man-made feature of the oceans is attracting a lot of attention, but it’s not a flashy resort or mainstream tourist attraction. Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of rubbish has grown to twice the size of Texas on our watch, representing humanity’s most significant contribution to the oceans in modern times. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Let’s explore some innovations and innovators looking to help solve the Earth’s water issues. 

A New Approach to Water Security

Shoring up the world’s water supply will be paramount in the coming decades. With the population predicted to soar to 9 billion by 2050, more innovations are needed to stem the tide and ensure that water remains available and usable for all.

Entrepreneurs in the sector are making gains, and as utility providers become more open to new ideas, things are beginning to change.

Here are some of the most exciting innovators in water today and their projects:

  • Arable (US) uses sensors to provide real-time, predictive analytics for agriculture and food systems.
  • Cloud Street (US) aims to detect flood risks using global satellites, machine learning, and community intelligence. The project targets the 90% of households in emerging markets that are currently uninsured.
  • Drinkwell (India/Bangladesh) provides water ATMs to communities affected by arsenic and fluoride through patented filtration tech, IOT-enabled operations, and pay-as-you-go cards.
  • Ecosoftt (Singapore) provides affordable wastewater and reuse solutions for communities without access to water and sewer networks. 
  • Electrolytic Technologies in the United States provides onsite chlorine generation to eliminate the costs and risks of transporting chemicals to water and wastewater treatment plants.
  • In India, Fluid Robotics created in-pipe robots to map and assess water distribution systems for leaks and prevent pollution in urban waterways.
  • Ingnitia (Sweden/Ghana) provide a tropical weather forecasting platform that delivers highly accurate, hyper-local forecasts to small-scale farmers via SMS.
  • Oneka, a Canadian company, is developing wave-powered desalination technology that can produce drinking water autonomously. The technology is aimed at providing clean drinking water to small island communities using renewable energy from ocean waves.

Summary and Outlook

There’s no easy answer to solving the water resource problem, and the importance of good management is only set to grow with time. Despite rising population levels, the associated burden on freshwater supplies, and in the face of increasing pollution levels, there remains light on the horizon. Awareness is up, and more people than ever, alongside more of our vital institutions, now understand that water management is not a problem that will go away by itself.

To this end, entrepreneurs and not-for-profit startups are providing some much-needed innovation in the sector. This helps to shore up a clean water supply for people who would otherwise go without while finding new ways to manage our precious water resources for future generations. 

These emerging technologies are the key to unlocking a sustainable water future for all. Yet, we can’t simply sit back and wait for a technological rescue boat to arrive.

Artificial problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch highlight our impact on the world’s water systems, and if we don’t sit up and act now, things could get a lot worse before they get better. The importance of Earth’s water resources remains critical, and it’s our job to ensure that future generations enjoy the same water wealth as we have.


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