I co-facilitated an innovation process in Jordan, around the future of water.
I always like to immerse myself in the subject of the work, so I asked a friend who is a water-engineer, to give me an introduction into the world of water-management in The Netherlands: How does it work? What are the innovations? What are you worried about for the future? What are the key-issues in the West versus the Middle-East?
All this information left me feeling strongly connected to the theme, positively surprised by the innovations in this field but also deeply shocked about the urgency of the global situation.
On the one hand, there were these wonderful “did you know…?”-data, like
- Did you know that the water that people in some of our cities drink is hundreds of year old, maybe even thousands, pumped up from deep levels in the soil?
- Did you know that the introduction of sewerage systems in the 60’s extended our life expectancy with 20 years?
- Did you know that long time ago, there was a profession in these regions, called “pee collectors”, they travelled from village to village, and asked people to pee in jars, which they sold to farmers as manure?
- Did you know that our waste water is purified by millions of bacteria, that feed themselves on the waste, leaving the water clean again for re-use? It’s perfectly clean, but because of the human “Yuck-factor”, there is a whole process after that to give people idea that is clean and purified?
- Did you know that dead fish in a polluted river don’t die of the pollution, but because of a lack of oxygen, due to the bacteria that use all the oxygen?
- And so on…
But there were all these horrible “did you know…?”-data:
- Did you know that water is “alive”, but that by the time it arrives in our houses, it is “dead”. A new innovation are water-vitalisers. My friend installed this and said that his children didn’t have a cold anymore since.
- Did you know that there are rivers in The Netherlands were male fish are changing sex and become female or bi-sexual? Due to massive presence of hormones in our water. This will affect our fish-population in the coming era. Technologies exist to clear the water from these hormones, but it’s just too expensive to do so on a large scale. If the fish are impacted now, how will this impact our children and men?
- Did you know that almost all cosmetics use micro-plastics in their products to make them feel soft? We can’t see them, but we also can’t filter them out of the water, so we all drink them? What is not consumed, ends up in the ocean creating Plastic-Islands as large as the state of Texas
- Did you know that we urgently need to raise our awareness on our usage of water, through the upcoming concept of water-footprint? It takes 80 L of water to produce 1 L of beer in The Netherlands, and in the Middle-East it goes up to 200 L of water (the irrigation of the resources).
- Did you know that if cities keep growing, which we all know will happen, there is going to be a huge problem of clean water?
Shouldn’t we all know this?
Water is something I -kind of- take for granted, in my house with full-option-plumbing.
East and West deal with different problems, when it comes to water, but insight number one was for me: it’s a global problem, asking for a collective response. The water cycle is the same everywhere in the world and water goes far beyond geographical borders.