Global Water Trends Shaping The Water Industry In 2023
By Nick Nicholas
If you type “trends” into Google, and you’ll notice search results on fashion, real estate, economic, and business trends. Depending on your interest, specific trends will seem more important than others. However, do you want to know which trends impact everyone, regardless of interests? Water trends.
Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface and is a necessary natural resource, yet few articles list trends about it. The rare resources that actually do provide water trends don’t deliver the latest information.
If you oversee a consulting engineering firm, industrial company, or municipality, you know old or unavailable information isn’t helpful. You can’t provide solutions to water issues when you don’t have accurate insights on what’s happening or working well. Fortunately, this article delivers the most up-to-date water trends shaping 2023. Check out the list below for insights on what’s new in water treatment and the water industry in general.
Water Trends In America
1. Water shortages
Scientists warn that the U.S. could see its freshwater supply decrease by as much as a third in less than 50 years. That reality doesn’t just affect the west coast regions like California and the Southwest. Water shortages will also happen in the Midwest, South, and the central and southern Great Plains.
One reason for the reduced water supply is population growth — an increase in people means an increase in water demand. However, another complicated factor driving this water trend is climate change. For example, consider the Colorado River. It provides 10% of the nation’s population with drinking water. But the river’s water supply has steadily declined because of climatic shifts.
2. Water Recycling
In response to the water shortages in America, some communities are turning to innovative solutions like water recycling. Southern California is making significant gains in this area. In Orange County — where 2.5 million people live — residents recycle almost all of their wastewater by using advanced wastewater treatment plants. This tactic helps meet 75% of residents’ water needs.
Also, other regions are adopting strategies for water self-sufficiency, including California’s Salinas Valley and Virginia.
3. Contaminated Drinking Water
Another water trend in the U.S. is the growing public perception that tap water is contaminated and unsafe to drink. The primary reason for contaminated drinking water is the region’s aging infrastructure. In many U.S. localities, you can find water pipes from the 1800s, primarily because water utility managers are strapped for cash and unable to deal with, maintain, and update municipal water treatment systems.
Without an updated water network, the U.S. water supply is becoming increasingly contaminated. From Jackson, Miss., to New York City to Flint, Mich., reports of water contamination have become increasingly prevalent. Some are saying their community’s water potentially has Escherichia coli bacteria from sewage or rainwater runoff.
Of course, advanced filtration systems for drinking water and wastewater treatment can help municipalities improve water quality. But until those technologies are implemented, communities will continue to experience polluted drinking water.
Water Trends In Europe
1. Water Scarcity
One water trend that’s unfolding throughout Europe is water scarcity. This issue is no longer rare or extreme in the region. About 20% of the territory and 30% of Europeans experience water stress yearly. Researchers suggest that since the 21st century, Europe has lost about 84 gigatons of water per year. That number is almost equal to the amount of water in Lake Ontario.
The primary reason for this water trend is climate change. Severe droughts are becoming common throughout the region, leading to aquifer over-pumping for agricultural, industrial, and urban purposes. If Europe wants to curb this water trend, they must start using water more efficiently, which is possible through wastewater recycling and reuse efforts.
2. Water pollution
On top of water shortage, Europe also has polluted waterbodies. The region’s water is contaminated because of insufficiently treated wastewater and agricultural pollution. Researchers believe the driving contributors to this water trend are urban and industrial wastewater, diffuse pollution from agriculture, and toxins from mining and dwellings disconnected from sewage systems. Treating Europe’s water is of utmost importance, and unique tech solutions such as Genclean are primed to be innovative disinfection solutions.
Water Trends In Southeast Asia
1. Inadequate Drinking Water
In Southeast Asia, people continue to have difficulty accessing clean drinking water. Currently, water quality in the region is under threat because of waste management, manufacturing, chemical overuse, agriculture, and poor wastewater treatment. A recent study also indicates that groundwater is the primary water source for 79% of people in Southeast Asia. That means over half of the residents in this region depend on groundwater being clean and fresh.
2. River Pollution
Another water trend unfolding in Southeast Asia is the increasing prevalence of polluted rivers. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and spans five regional countries. Millions of people depend on it for fishing, drinking, and agricultural needs. However, the river has become one of the most polluted waterbodies in Southeast Asia because of waste deposits and garbage.
Another highly polluted river is the Marilao River, which runs through Metro Manila in the Philippines. This particular river contains plastic, rubber, industrial waste products, and household garbage. But generally, the rivers in Metro Manila have such high pollution levels that the Advanced Study of Sustainability’s Policy Brief report says they are essentially “open sewers.”
Fortunately, municipalities are taking the issue seriously and looking into solutions. Two of those include wastewater treatment systems and plants.
3. Water Scarcity & Innovation
Water scarcity is a trend in Southeast Asia and across Asia in general. Research indicates that 500 million people in this region lack access to water. This trend is expected to continue as more of Asia’s population moves into urban areas, potentially leading to a 55% increase in water demand.
Thankfully, some countries in Asia are taking innovative steps to increase water availability. For example, Singapore is recycling water, allowing it to meet up to 40% of the country’s water demand.
Water Trends In Africa
1. Water Scarcity
Water scarcity continues to be a significant trend throughout the continent of Africa. While a necessary resource, water is unavailable for one in three Africans, and around 400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa need access to drinking water. According to a World Resources Institute report, it’s imperative to address poor management of water resources and climate change to reduce water stress in the region.
2. Lack Of Access To Clean Water
Water insecurity isn’t the only trend unfolding in Africa. Low quantities of clean water are also apparent. Often, when water is available in Africa, it’s unclean. For example, about 60% of Ethiopia’s population lacks access to clean drinking water, with half relying on contaminated water from hand-dug shallow wells, ponds, and natural springs.
In a press release by UNICEF, the organization said, “if current progress trends continue, very few African Union member will meet the UN SDG 6 water & sanitation goals which state requirements for universal access to safely managed drinking water, safely managed sanitation, or basic hygiene services by 2030.”
Water Trends In India
1. Water Scarcity And Quality
India has a population of around 1.38 billion people, but over 6% of its population can’t access clean, safe water. According to the World Economic Forum, 70% of India’s surface water is unsuitable for consumption. The region’s waterbodies and rivers also receive about 40 million liters of wastewater daily, and only a small fraction is effectively treated. While the situation is dire, curbing this trend is possible with industrial water treatment technologies, municipal water treatment solutions, and water reuse systems.
2. Water-Energy Nexus
India’s growing economy has increased demand not only for water but also energy, creating a water-energy nexus. Eighty percent of India’s water demand stems from agricultural needs, but water is also essential for industry and for generating electricity in the country.
As India tries to meet its energy security goals, it faces pressure from ongoing water stress, water demand to fulfill agricultural needs, climate change, and residential and industrial sectors. If the current trends in water usage continue, the estimated demand for water will be incredibly higher than the available supply, threatening the region’s energy output.
Taking Positive Steps
While many of the water trends are grim, it’s still possible for all the regions in this article to change course and take steps in the right direction.
At Genesis Water Technologies, we partner with consulting engineering firms, various industrial clients, and engaging municipalities to deliver sustainable, eco-friendly water treatment systems, drinking water treatment, and wastewater treatment and recycling solutions. All of our innovative offerings and expertise assist our clients with their water & wastewater treatment and water scarcity challenges while ensuring long-term regulatory compliance.