It is no secret that sustainability has taken the world by storm. In the workplace, the media, and even your own community, it seems to always be a topic of interest. In the beginning, many environmentally sustainable initiatives were focused on resources such as forests and natural gas, among others. However, in the face of dramatic population growth, the concept of water as a limited resource is also making headlines.
All around the country - and the world - increasing groundwater withdrawals, associated with population growth, are now exceeding recharge rates. This practice has led to a depletion of groundwater sources, leaving many environments and communities without adequate water supplies. In the face of this problem, communities and businesses have begun using alternative sources, such as brackish groundwater and seawater, to meet their rising demands.
While many industries have used these water sources for decades - especially within the mining and power industries - recent technological developments have created more effective and efficient treatment methods. Through reverse osmosis, even dissolved molecular particles, such as metals and salts, now can be easily removed, turning virtually any water source into potable water. Considering that it only takes half of a one acre-foot of water to supply a household with water for an entire year, these new sources could quickly prove to be a savior for drought-ridden communities.
The technology responsible for this revolution is membrane treatment. These systems utilize microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis to purify water of sediments and organic matter, as well as molecular contaminants such as metals, ions, and salts. According to the American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA), specific factors are taken into consideration before installing a system to ensure that these filtration mechanisms are at peak performance, including: algae, particle counts, seasonal changes, organic contents, microbial activity, and temperature, among others. While this data may take a bit of work to compile, it will quickly prove its worth.
These systems have quickly proven to be just as efficient as they are useful, with costs decreasing over 50% in the last decade, even as technology improves. For industries and communities, this could yield a reliable and cost effective water supply source for decades to come.