This is an engineering challenge for the responsible use of water in our cities/towns and villages around the world. Solutions can be for clean water or for sanitation and other responsible uses of water, including solutions and systems for recycling.
The challenge is to develop a product or system that addresses sustainable use of water for clean, healthy and smart living and is consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2022 to Build Back Wiser – Engineering the Future.
The Challenge addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6
Clean Water and Sanitation
One in three people live without sanitation. This is causing unnecessary disease and death. Although huge strides have been made with access to clean drinking water, lack of sanitation is undermining these advances. If we provide affordable equipment and education in hygiene practices, we can stop this senseless suffering and loss of life.
Climate change is projected to have increasingly significant impacts on weather patterns globally. In addition to more frequent extreme weather events, a critical effect of these changes is a shift in rainfall patterns. These changes mean that many communities are having to adapt the way they manage water for domestic purposes, and to support other critical activities such as rain-fed agriculture.
Some companies and governments are responding by adopting “net-zero” approaches to water management. By mitigating the pressure placed on freshwater supplies by the water-intensive processes associated with their operations, companies can reduce the negative impacts on surrounding local communities and the environment.
Meanwhile, there are several opportunities to change community practices in relation to water and create systems that lead to more effective retention of water in catchments. This can range from larger scale water recycling in urban contexts like Singapore, to low-tech re-vegetation and retention pond construction approaches in contexts such as rural Timor-Leste.
Engineering solutions in this area benefit from clear consideration of how to effectively engage communities and/or businesses. Approaches such as recycled water have been very successful in some contexts but have faced strong community opposition and stigma in others. Water and sanitation systems also involve consideration of how the solutions will affect the broader set of stakeholders drawing on the same catchment or water supply, to ensure the outcomes are equitable and sustainable.