Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness.Women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water.Three times more people lack water than live in the United States.
The majority of illness is caused by fecal matter.
More people have a mobile than a toilet.
Lack of community involvement causes 50% of other projects to fail.
In a world where resources are finite, inequalities in access to these resources open insurmountable gaps.
Access to water, the greatest exponent of the commons, whose right should be guaranteed by all the constitutions and human right laws in the world, is not only uneven but in many cases nonexistent.
Water is the main source of life for humans, for crops, for the planet and although not everyone is aware of it, also for energy.
In a finite world, in which fossil fuel reserves keep diminishing, the logic of good will, indicates that we should spend the reserves that remain to investigate alternative energy sources, renewable energy, but the problem is that the production of energy not only needs oil, but also requires water.
Some data on the amount of water required in energy production:
- Soy-based biofuels require 6,000 times more water than conventionally refined petroleum derived fuel
- The corn-based biofuels require 1,000 times more water than conventionally refined petroleum derived fuel
- One barrel of Alberta tar sands consumes 185 cubic feet of water
- The average American home will withdraw 370,000 gallons of water and consume 15,000 gallons of water per year, if fueled by a coal plant. There are nearly 115 million households in the US.
- Carbon capture technology requires energy. If that energy comes from coal, it will increase water consumption in the US electricity sector by 80% by 2030. If the energy comes from a low-water intensity source it will still increase the water consumption by 40 – 50%.
- The 2005 Energy Bill exempted natural gas drillers from following EPA guidelines, such as disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Solar thermal plants that use convetional cooling technology withdraw 98% less water from aquifers and rivers than coal an nuclear plants, but consume 85 and 270% more.
- The American Wind Energy Association says it saved 20 billion gallons of water in 2009, since wind power consumes less than 2 gallons per MWh produced.
- Hoover Dam output in 1999 was 5.5 billion KWh. Output in 2009 was only 3.7 billion KWh due to the severe drought as less water in the dam means less energy produced.
- The U.S. Energy Information Agency predicts a 40% increase in energy consumption by 2050.
Therefore water is energy and as with other sources of energy, the contestants are taking positions to control the access and ownership of the fresh water; liquid wars are underway. The international lobbies coerce governments worldwide to accelerate the water privatization processes so that water stops belonging to the commons, to all of us, so that water goes into private hands, to large multinational energy and food corporations.
It is of key importance to keep fighting for the right to have water. It is vital that the water continues belonging to the commons and due to the imminent risk of losing that right, it is vital to have water sovereignty, to be self-sufficient in our freshwater needs, whether for consumption or for agricultural or energy.
What should be the strategy to achieve water self-sufficiency? Again it is necessary to return to Mother Earth and walk down the path of sustainability, taking into account the same four parameters which we discussed in the energy crisis.
- Efficiency: Water consumption should be optimized. Water can not be wasted because it is one of the most valuable resources, necessary for our life, our agricultur and our energy production. Not all water uses require the same quality so that strategies for recycling gray and black water are essential in the management of water of any household or community.
- Self-harvesting: In the developped countries, up to date, we have not paid enough attention to the water crisis and therefore it has not been considered essential harvesting rainwater. In any habitat we can recover water from rain or dew. Depending on our location harvesting techniques will more complex or easier. After a study of rainfall in each area, we can design strategies and project the amount of litres of rain we will be able to store throughout the year, knowing then how much clean water we will have so that we can adjust our consumption to the available water.
- Localization: In the Western countries are household water supply depend on the national system. The years when people had to walk to wells and springs nearby are far behind. Children can not imagine a home without taps or give credit that a water cut could last more than a few hours. But it could happen and it is easy to avoid putting in place a systematic policy of water harvesting in any community or household.
- Independence: The cities are supplied from dams and reservoirs located miles away. In the distribution system there are leaks and losses. The water treatment is out of reach, it is assumed that the quality of the water we are provided is high. What would happen if a failure in the water distribution system occurs? If there is external tampering? Would a prolonged drought with diminishing reserves require the imposition of restrictions in the use of water? In almost all the countries we pay for water consumption, justifying the price on the cost of investment in the water distribution network and its maintenance. The privatization of water distribution systems and even the dams, the reservoirs and other water resources, will ineluctably lead to a rise in water prices and a progressive restriction of the freedom to harvest rainwater. The access to water is a right and it is something that every community must fight for, planning and establishing policies of water harvesting that will ensure water sovereignty.
The same four maxims that we have explained about energy, lead to the same conclusion in water management, the best strategy for the harvesting and water supply it’s a distributed and resiliente network in which harvesters are as well the consumers. A water P2P network.
The harvesting and storage of rainwater should be incorporated as a passive strategy (link to passive strategies) in the life of every community with a shared and distributed management. Our consumption can not depend on dams, reservoirs and private distribution systems that might apply rules and regulation that are contrary to our interests.
The water we will consume in the future will come from community rainwater harvesting and water reusing techniques for non-human consumption. It will be harvested and managed by a single network. Each consumer will be a core production hub whose scope will be defined by the community to which the node belongs. Sometimes nodes will be households, others will cover rural communities, and others will be buildings and other urban neighborhoods. Each of these nodes should analyze their needs in water consumption and size harvesting and recycling, adapting their needs to their own habitat, in order to have the least environmental impact in the process of creating the water P2P network and therefore achiving sustainability over time.
Clean water may be stored for human consumption, while recycling will give a longer life cycle, through water reuse as gray water (irrigation) and sludge (compost).
P2P philosophy applied to the water lifecycle provides the same benefits as to any P2P network
- Robustness: The P2P networks are distributed to increase robustness in the event of failure in any node. In the case of a water P2P network, each node is a harvesting and storage centre so that the water network is supplied from different points, increasing the redundancy in harvesting and expanding the total harvesting surface, increasing fault tolerance and availability of water for the entire community. In the same way water storage is also distributed across the network and any node can access multiple sources of stored water following the criteria established within the network itself.
- Decentralization. A P2P network is always a decentralized network in which all nodes are equal, there aren’t any nodes with special functions, and hence no node is critical for the functioning of the network. The costs are spread among users, being the shared resource, water. Putting together several users on harvesting, recycling and storing water lowers installation costs since each node has access to water harvested and recycled by other nodes. These water P2P networks will replace the national water distribution networks or at least will become a feasible alternative for water consumption groups or self-sufficient communities.
- Independence: A P2P network give us the independence in our water supply from the water utility companies, which means removing part of the services mortgage in the economy of the households or communities and cover them against increases, regulations, limitations or any governmental regulation over the access to public water, something that will become increasingly more common as water scarcity becomes a hot topic.
A water P2P network is a resilient network that will enable communities committed to these new trend, to maintain their quality of life regardless of external factors that otherwise would adversely affect their life.