Water is the natural resource that has grown to be indispensable to almost every mundane human function today. Due to its multi-utilitarian nature, water can be applied to several functions of industrial, commercial and non-commercial purposes. The irony about water, however, is that it is the most abundant yet the scarcest resource in nature. The current trends of human water consumption and disposal indicate that by 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress. The regions that are already experiencing water stress will face further acute water stress and access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities will be the points of discussion for most governments and local civic bodies.
At this juncture in time, “Water Innovations” or better ways of water management and water treatment are therefore the priority issues for discussion on the round-table of most companies in the concerned sector. Methods of water purification and waste-water treatment in domestic, commercial and institutional spaces are now being geared towards conservation and sustainability using innovative technologies. Innovation in water purification and treatment space has tried to transform traditional purification systems which engaged in low recovery and more wastage of water.
In most commercial and residential spaces across the world, the traditional method of water purification was installing a point of use (POU) purification filter for each office unit or household. However a smart water management solution, namely, the point of entry (POE) purification system for centralized water treatment was developed. The POE water treatment system, also called as the ‘whole house water filter’ system, delivers treated water to all sinks, baths, dishwashers and toilets, since it is installed at the main water line where water first enters the home or commercial setup. This is an effective one-stop solution to the purification needs of an institutional space, since it avoids the need for water purifiers at each faucet and also eliminates the need for water storage or procurement through jars or bottles.
This two-pronged solution resolves two key challenges to sustainability. Firstly, it eliminates need for plastic containers of water and secondly, it reduces wastage of water. Traditional POU purifiers waste 70-75% of the water and have a recovery rate of only 25%. Thus a major chunk of water entering the system is drained and lost. The modern POE purification, on the other hand, is a robust system and has a higher recovery rate. Smart, compact, durable water treatment products (WTPs) of capacity up to 20 m3 per hour that are Packaged, Plug and Play (PPP) have been developed for Light industrial, commercial, housing and urban spaces.
The cost and space-effective POE water treatment has been implemented across most developed economies like the US, Singapore and others since the past decade or more, and is now also creeping into the developing world.
Conveniently available safe drinking water, albeit being considered ‘the right of every person’, is a luxury many still can’t afford. Statistics indicate that 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water. To resolve this problem of availability of affordable potable water, several companies are promoting the concept of Water ATM’s. A typical Water ATM dispenses up to 200 liters per hour at the cost of 20 paisa per liter. Water ATM’s have high application in rural communities and in communities with high drinking water stress. Thus the ATM has efficiently addressed the common man’s thirst for water. Innovations in the waste water treatment, primarily sewage water treatment processes (STP) and effluent treatment processes (ETP) domains have been focusing on reusing the treated water for non-potable purposes rather than draining the water off into water bodies post-treatment. One among such effective innovations is the Packaged STP solution for residential, commercial and industrial setups. With respect to their installation and space requirement, these STPs are decentralized and comparatively compact sewage water treatment systems, thereby allowing for modularity, ease of installation and recycling and re-usage of waste water, and thus providing an ideal waste-water treatment solution for institutional spaces. The processing and reuse of the wastewater rather than draining it off will help industries, commercial and domestic units meet their non-potable water needs in a more sustainable manner. This is thus a robust and efficient approach to water conservation that reduces the pressure on governing bodies and bridges the water demand and supply gap, to yield a better and sustainable tomorrow.
These ‘Green Water Innovations’ are also enabled with Smart Monitoring. Smart monitoring is a feature that allows the user to stay connected and analyze their water treatment system at all times and also allows them to control the systems from the comfort of their home or office space through Smart App or web access. This allows mapping water usage and reducing water wastage by conscious and constant analysis of the systems. Thus the ergonomical nature of the smart monitoring feature is integrating man and machine for better sustainability and efficient management of water resources.
These innovations offer a two-pronged approach to sustainability – firstly, they allow for reducing the operating costs and adding to capacity of fixed assets for efficient and green revenue generation and secondly, by helping us conserve water, recycle and reuse waste water, these innovations help us move towards a better sustainable water consumption and water management model at a community level. The application of these solutions at a large scale or civic level will involve a joint effort by companies with a ‘green’ orientation and the personnel in-charge of urban planning.
The unison of the of ‘green’ water companies and governing bodies will facilitate achieving a synergy between smart science, smart engineering and modern urban planning to attain a stable sustainable world with balanced water demand and water supply needs.
Technology and water innovations will have to be integrated at the heart of town-planning and must be the guiding principles for every professional working in the water industry to make most cities of the world ‘smart cities of the future’. Generativity and wisdom of water conservation through better management of this precious resource will be the best gift of today’s technology for tomorrow’s imagination. Once these ideas and innovations are implemented across every nation and imbibed in every culture of the world, we can hope for a better future with smarter cities and industrial spaces using green innovation aimed at providing “clean water for all.”
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