With the global population continuously rising, and water demand greatly outweighing supply, the global water supply has decreased dramatically. However, water treatment innovations may be a growing field that attempts to combat the world’s water crisis by making fresh water more accessible.
Over 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity for at least a month each year, and half of the global population will be living under constant water scarcity as early as 2025. By 2040, around 1 in every 4 children will suffer from severe water stress.
Global freshwater usage is at a historic high, with the annual usage sitting at around 3.88 trillion cubic meters as of 2017. This is a 65% increase in usage from 1970 and over a 400% increase in the past century. Across the world, droughts and water scarcity are shocking populations. The current American Western mega drought, in states from California to Montana between 2000-2022, is considered the driest period in over 1200 years. Further, four days in July were measured as the hottest day on Earth in over 100,000 years.
To combat this, water treatment has become an emerging field of innovation where purification, sanitation, and filtration are all in heightened demand. Purifying previously undrinkable water through methods, like desalination, membrane distillation, and photocatalytic purification has become extremely important. Since 1971, over 400 desalination plants have been opened in the U.S., with over 200 currently operational mostly in California, Texas, and Florida. Over 300 million people across the globe get their water from desalination as of 2019.
Sources: Yale University; UNICEF; A. Park Williams et al.; Our World in Data; Food and Agriculture Organization; AQUASTAT, World Bank, University of Maine, U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
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