Crude oil is perhaps one of the most widely known resources that some of us may actually see run out in our lifetime. It is however not as necessary to our survival as clean drinking water.
The world’s supply of potable water is far from adequate. Information gleaned from sources such as Water.org suggests that over 750 million people across the world lack access to safe water, and an estimated 840,000 die annually from water related diseases.
We require water for all manner of uses including drinking, bathing and cleaning. Unfortunately, a growing number of our natural sources of water from both ground and surface levels have become contaminated due to industrial effluent, untreated sewage runoff, natural arsenic poisoning and more.
The problem of water quality is now a concern for both developed and developing nations. SRI also calls attention to the cost of obtaining and supplying safe drinking water to populations, which is becoming so expensive that governments are finding it difficult to undertake this without passing on some of the expense onto citizens.
Some may imagine that given that 70% of the planet is covered in water, this should not be a problem. Unfortunately, majority of this water is salty and much of the desalination technology at use today leaves behind concentrated brine that is harmful to the environment.
A 2010 National Geographic article that indicated that the continued use of inland desalination plants could raise salinity levels in water and make desalination even more expensive to undertake.
As more governments and NGOs move towards safeguarding and cleaning up of existing natural water sources, there is still the problem of the millions of people who lack access to potable water. Atmospheric water generators (AWGs), such as those offered by Air to Water Technologies Inc., are gaining ground as viable solutions to this problem, especially in arid regions.
These devices work by extracting moisture from humid ambient air and turning it into pure drinking water. There is plenty of moisture in the air even in the midst of the Sahara. However, in its vaporized form, it can be of no use to a thirsty person.
The AWGs make it possible to turn this humidity into drinkable water. Depending on the type of device acquired, several hundred gallons can be converted on a daily basis.
These devices are yet to become commercially popular, as there are other more affordable ways to treat dirty water and make it drinkable. There is also the fact that in most developed nations and even major cities and towns of developing countries, access to water can be fairly cheap.
The use of AWGs has however taken hold in the military, for use during campaigns in arid areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, to name a few. They make more sense than having to transport tankers of water in.
They are also becoming a viable option on ships and on islands. Haiti has become a poster child for AWG use thanks to the damage to public sanitation systems that has encouraged the spread of cholera.
Even developed regions that are prone to certain natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes, are also investing in these devices as a backup, in case of damage to water and sewer lines.
People in these regions are often advised to avoid using tap water until they can be assured of no cross contamination after the destructive weather phenomenon is over.