(Originally published on 10/03/2017) When you read the newspaper or scroll through your Facebook timeline, you’ve probably come across a water related problem; a tsunami after an earthquake, a village without clean drinking water or a river so full of trash you can’t even see the water anymore. The world needs skilled, enthusiastic water professionals to tackle these problems with innovative thinking. And hopefully bring some positive news into the world.
Too much water - Floods
One of the main issues regarding water management is the excess of water: flooding. The Netherlands is famous for keeping the water out and protecting the land. This is, unfortunately, not the case for everyone. There are many people who live in areas vulnerable to flooding with a lack of knowledge about how to protect themselves from the water.
Let's look at Bangladesh, a low-lying delta area vulnerable to flooding from the sea and from the many rivers that cross the land. Water managers raise awareness and share knowledge about how the people can protect themselves and their community against the water. Next to protection, people can also use the water to increase their welfare, for example by using river water as irrigation for agriculture.
Too less water - Droughts
Flooding is not the only water related problem. The opposite scenario is water scarcity. Organisations like The water project and WASH are trying to improve the water quantity and quality by placing water wells and rain catchment systems, but also by raising awareness about the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation. Watermanagement could, like flood protection, improve the whole community by decreasing hunger and poverty and by increasing health and education.
Nigeria is an example of a country where circumstances improved with the help of WASH. More children, especially girls, are able to attend school because of clean water and sanitation facilities, instead of spending their time collecting water.
The third main problem water managers have to deal with is pollution. Human waste threatens the quality of bodies of water. The Ganges river is an example of a river heavily polluted by human and organic waste. Water management can help to increase the chemical quality of the water, for example by cleaning waste water before it flows into a river. Raising awareness could decrease the amount of waste, like plastic, from polluting water bodies.
All of the problems named above take time and knowledge to solve them. The world needs water professionals, who see these problems as a challenge and want to work towards a sustainable future!