What is a water crisis? How drastic could it be? Should we really be concerned about a catastrophe and when is it going to happen?
Behind our regular taps at home, which we naturally use tens of times a day, there is a complex system that enables a steady supply of fresh water in the necessary amount with no limitation and high quality. This system, like any other complex system is vulnerable to damages that can make it stop functioning, partially or fully. This is called “water crisis”. Some examples would be: a security breach (in times of war or by terror acts); a collapse of the water infrastructure during a natural disaster (like an earthquake), and technical malfunctions or mishaps like the leaking of hazardous materials into water sources, water pipe explosions, et cetera.
A water crisis may be local and may affect a street, a neighborhood, a whole city and even a district. In extreme cases, like in natural disasters, a water crisis can happen on an extensive scope (national level).
Here, I will present a few examples from recent years of water system collapses around the world, which happened unexpectedly:
West Virginia, January 2014:
As a result of technical problems in an industrial factory, the Elk River, the only water source for 300,000 people, was contaminated with the chemical substance 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. For two weeks, the river’s water was so polluted that it could not be used for drinking. Even afterwards, the purification process took two months and the authorities supplied water for the citizens from alternative sources.
As a result of an earthquake in Sendai and the following tsunami wave, millions of people were cut off the water supply systems for a long period of time. In addition, a high level of radioactive iodine was measured in the drinking water of wide areas (including Tokyo). This was the outcome of the damage suffered by the nuclear reactors.
A severe earthquake struck the most populated areas in the country and caused a serious shortage of drinking and sanitation water for a long period of time, for most of Haiti’s population. A day after the earthquake, the Red Cross estimated 3 million people were affected by the disaster. It was estimated by various sources that 250,000 people were injured and hundreds of thousands were left with no shelter and had to fight for food and water against criminal gangs.
We have seen that the subject of water crisis is critical and the threat of a wide water outage or water pollution, which could affect thousands of civilians, is real. At least for survival issues (drinking and sanitation) water is a vital product that needs to be supplied by the authorities in any scenario.
When we face water shortage and the water is not supplied by the regular systems, the population is advised to avoid unknown and unsafe water sources, and it’s the authorities’ responsibility to provide water in an alternative way. In the past, cases have shown that the lack of preparation leads to an extent damage to human life and enormous economic consequences. Therefore, it is no wonder that many countries examine new and alternative ways of preparation, and are raising the level of readiness for crisis like this, in order to provide solutions and alternative water supplements for the public in times of emergency.
Israel, exposed to a wide range of threats that can cause a water crisis, is known for its extraordinary preparation to solve these kinds of crisis, and is leading the development of the international standard for alternative water supplement during water crisis.
In another article we will discuss the range of solutions and the unique equipment suggested by the Israeli authorities in order to supply water to the public in times of water crisis in alternative ways, at any time, for survival.