Water: how is the blue gold managed?

Water management entails the control and administration of water resources. As population increases, water scarcity is caused by its growing demand and depletion. This scarcity will be even more distressed as growing cities put high pressure on water resources. Therefore, water management aims at minimizing damages to living beings and properties while maximizing its beneficial use. It includes planning, developing, distributing, and managing water resources. There are several methods through which these activities are carried out. This article proposes four of the most important ones: rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, greywater and desalination. 

Rainwater harvesting, as the name suggests, is the process in which rain is collected and stored for future uses. It is usually collected from surfaces like rooftops. It can be used directly, for example in agriculture, or used to refill the groundwater reserves. This technique is easy to use and it helps reduce water bills. However, it requires high initial and maintenance costs and it is not fit for every area.

Drip irrigation involves pouring water into the soil at very low rates. It works through a system of pipes with holes with a small diameter placed as near as possible to the plants. In this way, water is applied only where the roots need it. Compared to other irrigation methods, this one is more frequent, meaning that the soil will maintain a favourable moisture level. Its disadvantages are all related with the use of tubes which, over time, may get clogged or even break due to sunheat.

Greywater is the water used from sinks, showers, baths, and washing machines. However, it does not include water from toilets. Greywater contains particles of dirt, food, and every other element that was in contact with the water used in those places. Therefore, it may appear dirty but it is a more sustainable source of irrigation water, toilet flushing and for other non-potable uses. Thus, it is indicated to use it directly on the site where it is produced. The main issue for using a greywater system is the dual-plumbing system required.

Desalination is the process through which salt is extracted from seawater. The final product is water suitable for irrigation and human consumption. The by-product is brine, which is a highly salt concentrated solution that is poured back into the sea. Together with greywater, it is a water management technique independent from the rain. It is more expensive than the other methods due to its high energy consumption. 

Water is called blue gold for a specific reason. It is the most important resource for human lives’ survival. Nowadays, we are facing a water crisis in which water reserves are more exploited than refilled, meaning that over time they will be dry. Water management tries to find alternative solutions to this crisis. The article proposes four methods of saving water that are just a little portion of the ones available. These techniques are going to be more and more common in coming years. Therefore, it is important to understand their benefits to the environment.

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