Author: Sukhmani Singh
“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” - Lord Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Did you know that 70% of our planet’s surface is covered with water, yet less than 3% of it is available for human use? Demand for freshwater is increasing with continuous population growth, putting greater pressure on limited supplies. The squeeze on supply is creating a water shortage crisis that is affecting the lives of millions across the world.
1 in 5 people around the globe faces persistent problems with water scarcity. This shortage has led to a lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation practices, unequal water distribution, and most catastrophically, deaths. Water stress puts immense pressure on our coffers: there is an annual financial loss of 260 billion USD attributed to water stress.
The impact of water stress is felt disproportionately by young children. 1,000 children die each day due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases. Over 1863 million days of school attendance are lost due to poor water, health, and sanitation processes in schools.
Water stress is fueled by two major variables: rising population and wasteful water use practices. If staggering global population growth, with all its associated water consumption, continues an additional 1 trillion cubic meters of water per year would be required by 2025 to feed the additional 1 billion people. This will put roughly two-thirds of the population in severe water stress locations.
In terms of daily water consumption per capita, consumption varies across the globe. Canada has one of the highest daily domestic water consumption levels at a whopping 437 liters per capita per day. Water-scarce regions of the world have less than 40 liters per capita per day.
So what’s a practical step that we can take in our daily lives to help alleviate our society's reliance on scarce water supplies?
Indoor farming is a practical solution to the problem of water waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), conventional agriculture uses 70% of available freshwater for irrigation. This is almost equivalent to 9 times our domestic personal use. Our water consumption patterns place immense strain on traditional agriculture's insatiable appetite to use more water. During the last century, the demand for water use has increased 6-fold and is expected to double over the next 25 years. This has resulted in depleted groundwater, aquifers, and lakes.
Indoor farming, including hydroponics, aquaponics, and vertical gardening, provides us with a practical solution to limit the amount of water we use to grow food. Indoor farming avoids waste by ensuring plants are only watered on need, saving the remaining water reservoirs for future use.
How do we tackle the water crisis we’re facing as a society at Just Vertical?
Our units help conserve 90 to 95% of water as compared to traditional farming. Water is circulated and re-used in our hydroponic systems, eliminating the amount of water that gets run-off or drained (ie. wasted). The amount of water used is less than 5 liters per week in a self circulating system.
Hydroponic systems utilize closed reservoirs and create a closed environment for plants that reduces water loss through evaporation from the water-intake source and transpiration from plants. This keeps both your plants, and our planet, healthy and vibrant.
17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress (2019): https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/08/17-countries-home-one-quarter-world-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress
The Looming U.S. Water Crisis (2019): https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/19/looming-us-water-crisis
Statistics Canada (2020) - Potable water use by sector and average daily use: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3810027101
18 Surprising Projections About the Future of Water: https://www.seametrics.com/blog/future-water/
Global Water Crisis: The Facts (2017): https://inweh.unu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Global-Water-Crisis-The-Facts.pdf