Groundwater is one of the earth’s most important natural resources yet it is depleting at a very high rate due to climate change, overpopulation and pollution and contamination of resources. Echoing this year’s World Water Day theme – Making the Invisible Visible – Dr Mirka Wilderer, CEO of De Nora Water Technologies shares more with Josephine Tan on how the company is contributing to groundwater treatment.
Firstly, can you share with us an overview of today’s global groundwater situation – why is groundwater becoming an issue, and how will you describe the role groundwater will play in the combat against climate change?
Dr Mirka Wilderer: The groundwater situation globally is precarious today, with the two biggest issues being scarcity and contamination of the groundwater we currently have.
Many people around the world rely solely on groundwater for daily life and agriculture. As demand for potable water increases to support the growing population and their daily needs, we are depleting our groundwater resources faster than they can be replenished. Climate change also causes more extreme temperatures and intense storms. Extreme heat and aridity are leading to higher evaporation of surface water, while the intensity of storms is affecting soil infiltration as well. This all results in faster depletion of our groundwater sources.
Additionally, our fast-depleting natural groundwater sources are getting tainted. While water moves through the ground, it picks up natural contaminants from the environment. With increased industrial activities globally and improper disposal of chemicals used, our groundwater resources are getting even more contaminated.
We all have a common human need for safe, clean drinking water but not everyone today has that access. More than 30% of the earth’s freshwater resources are made up of groundwater. As such, protecting the supply and safety of our groundwater is key to ensuring a sustainable future for all moving forward.
Can you elaborate on the effects of the exploitation of groundwater, and why is groundwater increasingly being over-used?
Dr Wilderer: Groundwater resources are largely unregulated globally and are considered an “unseen” resource as compared to surface water sources. As demand for water exponentially increases to support the growing population, agricultural, irrigation and other industrial needs, our demands on groundwater far surpass nature’s capability to refill them. Add on the effects of climate change, including increased aridity and more intense storms that affect water infiltration into the ground – the demands on our groundwater supplies have truly become unsustainable.
The full article is available on the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia Mar/Apr 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.