Last updated 2 weeks ago by Michael Darmanin
It is common knowledge that 70% of the Earth is covered by water. However, it might come as a surprise that 70% of the freshwater used worldwide is used for agricultural irrigation systems. Climate change brings about drought in certain areas. Therefore water shortages are becoming more and more common. Making agricultural irrigation systems more efficient would benefit many communities. Such an innovation was born from a collaboration between Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam and KWR Water (a scientific organisation involved with the quality of water).
A dirty solution
One way to fight the water shortage is by using treated wastewater. However, this approach has some drawbacks. The biggest of them is the associated health risk. Although efficient, wastewater treatment cannot eliminate all chemicals and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Spraying fields with treated wastewater increases the risk of human exposure to potentially dangerous substances.
A sustainable approach
Research at the Utrecht University, in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and KWR Water came up with an innovative solution. They promote the use of treated wastewater in underground irrigation systems. This approach has two main advantages over the traditional method. First, no direct contact with the plants or farmers occurs. Secondly, the earth acts as a filter, further purifying the waste water. Applying this technique is projected to cover as much as 15% to 17% of The Netherland’s water needs, depending on the season.
Climate change comes with many challenges. However, there is hope, as scientists constantly find innovative ways to solve the world’s pressing problems.