Water makes up around 60% of the average adult’s body. It is essential for survival. The way it has been in the past, people expect water to be easily available at the turn of a tap. Water had earlier been priced as an indefinite commodity, one that we’ll never run out of. Sadly, there is a global water crisis brewing. Chennai has already fallen victim to this, Cape Town got lucky with some rainfall and the fact that their people started preparing for Day 0 months in advance, which slowed down their water consumption. Everyone keeps saying that data is the equivalent of oil in the present day, but we can live without data (and even oil for that matter), but we need water to live. Here, we will see how big data and IoT can help us solve the problem of water wastage and conservation.
Break up of water usage
The 20th century saw human population increase three-fold, the water usage increased six-fold. Within the usage of water, households consume roughly 10%, industries use roughly 20% and agriculture uses the lion’s share of the water which is close to 70% of the total water. Seeing this, households can’t do enough to change the water usage trends.
Steps to be taken in agricultural water usage
As is obvious, changing irrigation trends would really help save water. Soil sensors which use IoT have been developed, these sensors are said to cut water usage in irrigation by a third. Data has also been used to develop better nozzles to be used in the irrigation of land. If everyone started using these nozzles and sensors for irrigation, we could considerably cut agricultural water usage.
Steps to be taken in industrial water usage
Coming to the industries, they mainly use water to develop certain products. For example, 74 liters of water goes into making one glass of beer. There hasn’t been enough research in this field because water itself is an irreplaceable commodity, there is no alternative for water. One thing that has been researched is the desalinization of water but in the current rates, that only produces 1% of the water we use. Given the lack of alternatives and research, the only thing that industries can do is to ensure that they prevent leakages and that they don’t pollute water. To tackle this, a sensor has arrived in the market which checks for real leaks and possible leaks in pipes, the sensor basically surveys pipes. This could help to save some of the 14% water that gets wasted due to leakages. Ensuring that the industries don’t pollute the water is up to the government.
Steps to be taken in domestic water usage
Households are generally the first to respond to a water crisis because the government primarily looks after the interests of the industries when it comes to water consumption. Simply presenting the data to households seems to work more often than not, this is where data analytics helps. Sending reports of water usage in similar households to show how a particular household compares, this has worked in certain test groups and it’s honestly not too tough to implement.
All of this needs to happen soon, we need to be efficient with our management of water if we need to survive as a species.
(The article is authored by Nishant Nijhawan, Intern, Techxty.com. Nishant is a student of computer engineering at Delhi Technical University who believes in optimal usage of technology.)