Water as a global resource

Published on 05/13/2020 | by Waterline Admin

As featured in waterline Spring 2020

Water as a global resource

Caroline Summers, Myriad Compliance Ltd

When many of us think of our planet and the environment we think of the rising sea levels and increasing warmer temperatures. Most believe this to be a pressing issue concerning us all and realise the need to focus on planning for a different future.

This article will address the way in which we manage water as a resource through changing our behaviour, and how the industry will need to adapt to this challenging situation for water supply and the removal of contaminants in waste water.

Traditionally most countries collect fresh water through the water cycle, i.e. rainwater running into rivers, lakes etc. With warmer temperatures being reached for longer periods during the summer and humidity levels too low, the earth is drying out. The good news is that water is a finite resource, but instead of harvesting rainwater we will increase the use of desalination from the oceans and recycle wastewater from sewerage water, both of which are more complex and expensive operations.

The demand for domestic water supply has doubled since the 1960s due to the rising population, while the agricultural industry still demands the largest percentage of water in order to keep up with food supply (World Resources Inst).

The cost of producing clean and safe drinking water with the removal of contaminants in wastewater is rising. A quarter of the world’s countries are facing high water stress where 80% of the available water is consumed, in particular South Africa, India and Italy with the Middle East and Northern Africa being the highest regions. (Water Resources Institute 2020) These areas are naturally more dry being so close to the equator.

In the South West of America, the Colorado River supplies 40 million people serving numerous farms and has recently reported a 20% reduction in the flow to outreaching reservoirs during the last century. These are providing freshwater and hydropower to homes and have been impacted by the decrease in rainfall and snow to supply the river while warmer temperatures have added significantly to its reduced flow. (Advancing Earth and Space Science 2014).

With demand overshadowing supply the need to drill for groundwater has been brought to the forefront to replenish supply. During the period 2004 – 2013 the water drilled under the ground accounted for 50 km3 of the 65 km3 freshwater loss (Advancing Earth and Space Science 2014). There will be a greater focus on recycling water as the demand for freshwater increases. However there is always the risk of pollution. Pollution in freshwater consists of bacteria, organic matter, chemicals and salts and 80% of wastewater today goes untreated (UN Tackling global water pollution 2019).

In 2016 an assessment in Latin America, Africa and Asia exposed severe bacterial pollution in one in three of its rivers, one in seven had severe organic material and one in ten had severe salinity content (UN Tackling global water pollution 2019). There is a higher economic cost to treating water this way but our attitude to conserving water needs to change to recognise it as an essential natural resource that we need to survive.

Back in the UK and during the ‘big stink’ in London 1858 Sir Joseph Bazelgette was responsible for the creation of a brick Victorian sewerage system. The system could cope with 4 million people but due to huge present demand the sewer currently overflows into the Thames when it rains.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel which is a new 25 km super sewer system has reached the half way point of completion; hopefully completion in 2024 will replace the system currently in place. The project runs from the west to the east of London.

Ammonia and bacteria levels are affecting the river ecology by disrupting the balance between plant and animal life. The reduction of oxygen reduces fish population and bacteria levels can cause disease. There has been significant green space created and regenerated along the Thames during the project to counteract this issue. By this time you may ask how much this is costing? Well, £3.8 billion will be needed to complete the project, whilst another £1.1 billion was allocated for preparation work. All thanks to Thames Water customers.

So, in the future there needs to be less reliance on rainwater supplies and more consideration put into rethinking the ways to recycle water supplies to an increasing global population.


World Resources Institute 2020

Advancing Earth and Space Science 2014

UN Tackling global water pollution 2019

Advancing Earth and Space Science 2017

Diary Dates & Events

Grime Scene


Following on from the successful Grime Scene competition, we have decided to continue the theme for another year, but with a twist. This year, we are asking for photographs of the grimiest pictures you can find accompanied with another photograph of how the ‘scene’ has been improved by your maintenance or cleaning.

We will display the photographs in each of the Waterline editions throughout 2024. The ‘most improved’ picture will be chosen by WMSoc members via an online vote. The winner will receive a £25 Amazon Gift Voucher after the Winter 2024/25 edition has been published.

Please send your photographs to:
[email protected].

Product & Service Spotlight

Secondary disinfection options from B & V Chemicals:

We can offer our customers several secondary disinfection options to control issues like biofilm formation and harmful bacteria proliferation

Genox or chlorine dioxide
For water usage above 60m³/day, we recommend installing either a chlorine dioxide unit or a Genox unit. The Genox units generate hypochlorous acid from brine electrolysis with running costs as low as 4.0 pence/m³.

Ultralox 40 or SuPerSil
For smaller systems, continuous dosing with Ultralox 40, a hypochlorous acid solution, is a cost-effective alternative with few safety risks.
Similarly, silver peroxide dosing suits low to medium water usage systems.

For more information contact [email protected]

How the NEW SolidTek® Biocide Feeder Package will BENEFIT YOU

SolidTek® has launched its NEW Biocide Feeder which is functional, compact, and environmentally-friendly.

Designed for use with SolidTek’s® enhanced bromine biocide, BromTek, it offers multiple benefits:

Reduced exposure to fumes and bromine dust (non-pressurised system).

Use with field proven mixed hydantoin biocide - better performance than standard bromine tablets.

Wall mounted reducing footprint of installation.

Charge with product in under 5 minutes without isolation from the system.

Product calculators and tech support available.

Lovibond MD640 Photometer (PTSA & Fluorescein capable)

Product Spotlight Drop Test Kits

How many times have you heard … ‘we’re not sure what the system volume is’. A common problem which can be expensive - wasting chemical over dosing, or underdosing so the treatment is ineffective (i.e. shock dosing a biocide). The MD640 photometer has PTSA & Fluorescein capability built in. Simply use our System Checkers to add to an unknown system and read a PTSA or Fluorescein levels to accurately identify the system volume.

The Hydrosense PRO range


The Hydrosense PRO range pioneers Legionella pneumophila detection, the cause of over 97% of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, by identifying all the serogroups 1-15 of this dangerous Legionella species. This easy-to-use, highly sensitive test uses unique filtration, offering a three-line test result that distinguishes between serogroup 1 and serogroups 2-15 within 25 minutes. The water test has a level of detection of 100 CFU/L and swab tests detect 200 CFU per swabbed area, providing crucial, rapid insights for water safety management.

TME Thermometers

Save time and money on your ACoPL8 testing with TME’s innovative legionella solutions.
• Perform faster temperature tests with our MM2008 Thermometer with integral timer for running of hot and cold water taps.
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[email protected]

01903 700651