Shortage of Drinking Water

Solving Water Problems

What is shortage of drinking water?

Shortage of drinking water or water scarcity, is the lack of sufficient available water sources to meet water needs within a region. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use. As a result, around 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and 2.7 billion people find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, (mostly children) die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.
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Enviromental IMPACT


When water becomes scarce, natural landscapes often lose out. The Aral Sea in central Asia was once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake. But in only three decades, the sea has lost an area the size of Lake Michigan. It is now as salty as an ocean due to the excessive pollution and the diversion of water for irrigation and power generation. As the sea has retracted, it has left polluted land. This ecological catastrophe has created food shortages and resulted in a rise in infant mortality and a decrease in life expectancy for the nearby population.


About half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900. Some of the most productive habitats on the planet, wetlands support high concentrations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates—and serve as nurseries for many of these species. Wetlands also support the cultivation of rice, a staple in the diet of half the world’s population. And they provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.

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As humans continue to pump more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, patterns of weather and water will change around the world. Droughts will become more common in some places, floods in others. Glaciers and snow packs will disappear in some areas, affecting the freshwater supplies to those downstream communities. These changes will combine to make less water available for agriculture, energy generation, cities and ecosystems around the world.


In the last 50 years, the human population has more than doubled. This rapid growth— with its accompanying economic development and industrialisation—has transformed water ecosystems around the world and resulted in a massive loss of biodiversity. Today, 41% of the world’s population lives in river basins that are under water stress.


Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s accessible freshwater, but some 60% of this is wasted due to leaky irrigation systems, inefficient application methods as well as the cultivation of crops that are too thirsty for the environment in which they are grown. This wasteful use of water is drying out rivers, lakes and underground aquifers.


Water pollution comes from many sources including pesticides and fertilisers that wash away from farms, untreated human wastewater, and industrial waste. Even groundwater is not safe from pollution, as many pollutants can leach into underground aquifers.

How can we solve this problem?

Desalination of seawater (saline water) is the process of removing dissolved salts from seawater, leaving fresh/drinking water. Since around 71% of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and Earth's oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth's water, why not desalinate Earth's seawater to drinking water? Distillation can also be used to extract ground water and distill into drinking water using a "solar still".

Distillation (seawater)

Distillation is a 'separating mixtures' technique.

1) Using the Sun's energy and heat, seawater is evaporated, and salt is left behind.

2) The evaporated water vapour is captured in a tube, or a layer of plastic.

3) The water vapour condenses into liquid water.

4) The liquid water then flows into the 'fresh water collector' and is safe to drink.

5) The salt is left behind, now in solid form.

This procedure takes advantage of the Water Cycle by using the Sun's natural energy to evaporate the seawater, following by the water condensing and turning back to liquid form.

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Solar still

There are many ways of distilling ground and seawater. One procedure used to distill ground water is called a "solar still". It can be made easily with cheap products, suitable for areas with shortages of drinking water.

1) Dig a hole in the ground, and place a bucket in the hole. Add leaves around the bucket (transpiration) to collect maximum water (optional).

2) Place sheet of plastic covering hole fully.

3) Place rocks on plastic, around hole, to hold plastic sheet down.

4) Leave a space in the rocks, and add a tube connecting from the bucket up through the rocks. (optional)

5) Add a rock to the centre of plastic; gravity will pull the plastic sheet down.

6) Distillation procedure will occur, with ground water evaporating from Suns heat, water vapour condensing on plastic sheet, and the weight of the rock causing water to drip into the bucket.

7) Once water has been collected, the tube can be used for drinking straight from the bucket without removing from underground.

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Positives and Negatives


- easy procedure to follow

- all materials are easy to collect

- procedure uses Suns heat, which requires a sunny and dry environment; areas with water shortages are very sunny and dry


- procedure is aimed at individuals or families; it's not very affective for whole communities, cities and countries.



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"Global Water Shortage: Water Scarcity & The Importance of Water." The Water Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

"How Seawater Desalination Works." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

"How Solar Stills Work - Life of Pi | TurbineGenerator." TurbineGenerator. N.p., 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

"Ruff Survival." : How to Make a Solar Still. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

"Distillation." BBC - GCSE Bitesize. N.p., 12 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.