Let’s talk about “clean” water

Water is a bit of a sensitive topic in South Africa at the moment, well, especially in the Western Cape. But, honestly, it should be a sensitive topic around the entire world. Water is a basic human need that some countries and societies have never truly experienced. How sad is that? And then it becomes a matter of not just any kind of water, but “clean” water. So let’s talk a little bit about that.

Why do we need clean water?

  • People: We need water to help with our digestive system, kidneys, skin, hydration, hormones, you name it – we need it. Human beings are made up of 60% water so it’s kind of understandable that we need it to keep functioning.
  • Business: Whether it’s retail, industrial or medical, pretty much all manufacturing businesses are in need of clean water to create products that we use and consume.
  • Agriculture: In the world, 69% of freshwater goes towards agriculture. It’s used to grow our food so that we can have our much-needed sustenance.

We need clean water for, basically, everything if we want to survive. Now, could you ever imagine your quality of life without clean water? Well, what about without water at all?

What is considered “clean”?

Clean water is drinkable and not harmful to our bodies is considered as clean.

The water molecule itself (sourced from rain for the sake of this article) is considered as a universal solvent because there are many materials and substances that are dissolved in water. By the time rainwater flows into our dams, it’s picked up a few “passengers” along the way that aren’t exactly what we want to be putting in our bodies. So whatever we purify is considered as clean water.   

How do we make clean water?

Well, there are many ways to purify water and make it clean, some healthier than others but the means are there, it just becomes a matter of cost and availability.

All kinds of filtering: Slow-sand filters, fibre filters, ceramic filters, charcoal filters, sediment filtration and even UV and Infrared filters. There are more accessible filtering methods such as the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter and homemade filtering systems that you can create yourself.

  • Chemicals: There are also chemicals used to clean water. Algaecides, coagulants, chlorine and other disinfectants, oxidants and iodine are just a few chemicals and methods.   
  • Heat it out: Boiling is an effective way to attain clean water if your threats are limited to microorganisms. But when it comes to removing harmful metals and chemicals, you’ll need more intense methods to get it purified.
  • Desalination and distillation: Desalination is an extremely costly procedure that removes salt and minerals from ocean water to make it clean and drinkable. And distillation also separates and removes unwanted elements from water to make it potable.
  • Reverse osmosis: This is a system that pressurises water through a membrane as a means of getting rid of dirty substances. PROXA Water Mobile Water Services specialise in the water cycle and in necessary reverse osmosis equipment for various industries so that they may create their own clean water.

What happens when there is no clean water?

So, with all these means of purifying water, time and money consuming as they may be, let’s look into the possibility of what would happen if we ever ran out of water.

When there is no water in one country and water rationing becomes extreme, the possibility of water wars is imminent. Not to mention our health would be completely compromised if we relied on the “scraps” of whatever streams of water are flowing (which we would have to rely on because water is needed to live). We could be exposed to harsh diarrhoea, cholera, malaria and other pathogenic, waterborne diseases.

Something we need to understand is that water is a limited resource. Yes, we may be able to recycle it and there is a water cycle in place, but we cannot create water ourselves. This means we have every reason to be mindful of our water use and wastage, not only when it’s too late and we’re experiencing an incredible drought.

Currently, in the world, there are 844 million people without easy access to clean water – that’s one in nine people on earth. And there are about 800 children who die every day as a result of dirty water and lack of sanitation. We need to do our part and save whatever water we use. Or, preferably, if we are in a position to aid these countries and areas that do not have access to clean water, then we need to do it and build awareness to the problem.