PHOENIX – The signs are all there. Global warming. Huge swaths of the earth facing long-term drought. Large corporations buying up water rights around the globe.
A worldwide crisis is looming with scientists and climate experts predicting that as much as one fourth of the world’s humanity will be without water in the next 20 years. A recent United Nations report says that already one-half of the planet’s population lives without safely managed sanitation, and that nearly 3 billion people lack access to consistent and safe drinking water supplies worldwide.
Even the water supplies available are threatened by pollution, degradation of aquatic ecosystems, population and economic growth, poor planning and regulation and efficient use of water. All these issues will be in the forefront as we observe World Water Day on March 22. This year’s theme is “What Water Means to Me.”
Michael Boyko, principal and co-founder of Tempe-based Dynamic Water Technologies, grew up and went to school here in Arizona. He’s watched with trepidation at the urban sprawl growing across the Southwest and using more and more of the arid landscape’s precious resource.
“In the United States, we live in a world that drastically undervalues clean water,” Boyko said. “We wash our cars with drinking water. We water our lawns with drinking water. We literally use potable drinking water in our toilets.”
Boyko attributes this cavalier attitude to the fact that water is still a relatively cheap commodity. But that is about to change. Worldwide, water rights are being purchased as businesses and investment companies hedge their bets that the price will rise as water becomes more and more scarce.
The lack of concern infuriates Boyko and others who champion technology and innovation as the path to conserving water and becoming more efficient in recycling and reusing water, whether for agriculture, industrial use, or by households.
“Water is not a problem until there is none,” he says. “It is imperative that we all act responsibly and take action to reduce, reuse and recycle all that we can.”
His company, Dynamic Water Technologies, works with innovative new approaches to help large industrial complexes such as hospitals, shopping centers, and office buildings reduce the water needed in the massive cooling towers that provide air conditioning to the structures.
DWT’s electrochemical process allows water to be used several more cycles before it needs replenished, and the process doesn’t use harsh chemicals so there are no dangerous byproducts.
Boyko says these types of innovations will ultimately prove the answer to the earth’s growing water situation.