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The recent Tsunami that hit Asia was devastating with so many fatalities
and millions of people severely affected. Its aftermath left thousands
homeless without food, shelter and potable water. This is of tremendous
concern to us all as is the many years it will take for the region
to rebuild.As we witnessed the tragedy unfold, it left us feeling helpless.
It was inevitable that gastroenteritis and cholera outbreaks and other water borne diseases would occur in those affected areas. It is of grave concern that a similar scenario could befall other areas in the near future. It is important to set in place steps we can take and ways to prevent such a calamity..
As immediate emergency relief, both short and long term, the Desalination process can be used to extract fresh water from the sea, brackish and well water.
Desalinated water is soft water. The water produced is approximately 200 milligrams per litre TDS (Total Disolved Solids). Therefore, it is much softer compared with ground water that typically exceeds 500 TDS. Reverse Osmosis desalinated water is the water supply used on Cruise Ships, Naval and Cargo Vessels.
While the Desalination process produces clean potable water, it does not mean it is void entirely of the essential minerals, as widely believed. Essentials are retained while removing the Heavy Metals such as Mercury and Lead, Salinity and Bacteria from the raw source of water.
In Cebu Philippines, for example, the aquifers have suffered abuse from over-extraction from deep wells as the main source of fresh water. This can only worsen as the population trends and demand from industry grows. This can be said of most parts of the country and other rapidly expanding cities like it.
As a consequence, people many kilometres away from a city in areas far inland face an environmental disaster of sea water intrusion and pollutants.
We should embrace an Environmentally Friendly approach for sustainable water in adopting a ‘security through diversity’ strategy through: Desalination, Catchment Management, Demand Management, Recycling, as well as using the existing ground water and surface water, whilst continuing trade with Irrigators. In doing so, we minimise impact on the sensitive native flora and fauna.
What we have seen unfold recently is unfortunate. The survivors are left with substandard conditions which will lead to water-borne diseases. I firmly believe 'prevention is better than cure'. We must be aware that fresh water is not a luxury but a necessity.
A lot can still be done by embracing better, cost effective technology.
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