About the author
As per Nuno´s previous blog post, YourFormula is featuring some parts of the new Cefic Sustainability report entitled ‘Teaming up for a sustainable Europe’. This time we will be addressing water, and how chemistry is improving the quality and finding new solutions for purification of water.
Good quality water in sufficient quantities for all legitimate uses!
Water is a most precious resource: although water covers 70 % of the planet, less than 1 % is available for use as fresh water. Both worldwide and in the EU, supplies are under mounting pressure from growing domestic demand, economic activities, urban development and climate change. By 2030, the gap between global water supply and demand will hit 40 %.
Water scarcity and droughts affect 1/3 of the EU, especially but not only in southern Europe. At least 11 % of Europe’s population and 17 % of its territory have been affected by water scarcity and droughts, costing the EU economy an estimated €100 billion in recent years.
In contrast, the past decade has seen Europe suffer more than 175 major floods.
60 % of European cities are over-exploiting their groundwater resources. Between 20-40 % of Europe’s available water is wasted as a result of failures in the supply network.
And even though surface water quality has improved significantly since the 1970s, according to the European Environmental Agency, 47 % of the surface waters will not meet the environmental standards targeted for 2015 without significant actions.
A toolbox of solutions is available to overcome the challenge!
Many solutions are available to overcome the challenge: water reuse and recycling; water and wastewater treatment, including recovery of resources; flood and drought risk management; making better use of water ecosystems; water saving products…
In many of these approaches, chemical products play a major role. Some of these are making use of innovative technologies, e.g. combining chemical products eliminating bacteria and viruses with the latest filtration technologies. As an example, in the video below you can watch an innovative method of water reuse and desalination developed by Kemira. With the comprehensive use of chemistry, biology and mechanical treatment, we can put salt water to good use.
A more everyday example, but just as essential, is the use of plastic pipes to deliver water. 1.5 million litres of water will be saved every day thanks to a €3.3 investment programme replacing leaky cast-iron pipes with plastic piping in Reading/UK – if you want to know more about this specific case, please click here
Want to see more examples of how the chemical industry helps to overcome the water and other societal challenges?
Hello! My name is Ann Dierckx and I am working with Cefic from 2008 onward.
I hold a PhD of the Faculty of Bioengineering from the KULeuven, on the topic of radioactive waste disposal in a clay environment.
What keeps me awake at night is how to leave a healthy planet for my three children. I am confident that chemistry has a lot to contribute in solving today’s key societal challenges. That’s what I do for my living; as Sustainable Development manager, I tell that story and help the sustainable thought advancing in the whole sector.