For thousands of years, “Mother Nature” did a pretty good job making sure all manner of flora, fauna and humans had water to live on as well as to support growth. But, as, population growth, burgeoning cities and the need to address water-borne diseases necessitated society move from a strictly nature-driven water cycle to one operating with more man-made influences.
In 2018, environmental damage and global climate change have been added into the mix upsetting the balance of the water cycle. Despite incredible innovations and major efforts, the world is still falling short in terms of every person having access to sufficient quantities of quality water. How short? According to the United Nations World Water Development Report of 2018, currently around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas and 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water.
So, what is the solution? While there is no one single, simple answer, the United Nation’s 2018 World Water Day focuses all eyes on a solution that may go a bit against human nature—that solution being nature itself. Themed “Nature for Water,” World Water Day posits that nature-based solutions should be a major part of the answer to today’s water issues.
The day looks to start an ongoing conversation about the ways we can work hand-in-hand to advance local and global goals for water availability and accessibility. Moreover, this year’s World Water Day draws attention to the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of such natured-based solutions—which cover everything from planting trees and restoring wetlands to reconnecting rivers to floodplains—as well as the additional benefits of helping to reduce floods, droughts and water pollution. I encourage you to learn more in this “Nature is the Answer” factsheet.
Lastly, I am incredibly excited about this focus on “getting back to nature” because, despite how it may seem, this means anything but “getting away from technology.” On the contrary, taking a closer look at the way nature works to protect our water resources also means taking a look at the ways many of our modern innovations were developed to mimic nature—from filtration to gravity-driven systems, nature’s influences abound in water technology. Technologists, scientists and engineers are making our systems “smart” using artificial intelligence and neural networks for customer focused needs and operational efficiency. The future of data analytics and our water industry is extremely exciting and I am looking forward to the next chapter of human-and-nature collaboration!