Natural sources of drinking water vary to the type of region we occupy. Most parts of the interior of the land mass, unless blessed with a perennial river, have to rely on freshwater lakes or the groundwater or rainfall for drinking. The options are lesser for the coastal areas. Rivers reaching the coastal areas are too contaminated for human consumption. Inevitably, the people living in the coastal areas have to rely on groundwater and rainfall for drinking.
Some Eye-Opening Facts about Water in Coastal Areas
Rains have been erratic in the recent years. Groundwater can only gather in a lowered water table so that the water from the sea can be distilled as it passes through the sediments. Although there is an amount of filtering that is happening, TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) levels indicate that the water is still not drinkable unless distilled thoroughly. The experiments conducted by US National Institute of Health at the mega-deltas of Bangladesh and India, state that 25 million people are at risk of drinking ‘saline’ water. This might lead to adverse consequences for health, such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Reasons of Contamination
Coastal areas are known for their scenic beauty. However, many of us may not know that the beautiful coastal areas face a lot of drinking water problems. Though the places have abundant water, the saline water is not fit for drinking. Sadly, approximately 117 million (14.2%) people live in coastal areas and yet face drinking water problems. The people residing in coastal areas are highly dependent on boring wells, tankers or municipal water supply. The contamination of water can be attributed to a number of reasons. Some of them are:
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) reports that salinity in the groundwater is increasing day by day due to overexploitation of groundwater and seawater intrusion in the coastal region. Salt water intrusion happens when too much groundwater is extracted. Seawater has higher density and pressure than the freshwater, so the seawater intrudes into the water tables in the coastal region. Thus making groundwater and surface water such as lakes and ponds saline. Technological intervention has become a necessity for a reliable and quick availability of safe drinking water to millions of people.
Water turns saline as a result of the presence of dissolved salt content in water bodies in the coastal areas. Amount of rainfall received in an area, solubility of minerals, permeability of soil, airborne salts and weather conditions are some the factors that affect the quality of water. These factors are the main reasons of alkalinity in salt water.
High TDS Level
Sea water has an excessive amount of salt which makes it unfit for consumption. High TDS levels give a flat, bitter and unpleasant taste to drinking water. The high level of TDS also increases the chances of sea water getting infiltrated into drinking water supplied in the coastal areas. This is the reason why RO water purifiers for home are ideal for coastal areas.
Sea water also has a high level of chloride, which not only affects the environment but also human health. High levels of chloride in water leads to respiratory problems, heart diseases, and increased blood pressure. If used for watering plants, it can contaminate the crops as well as seafood and indirectly enter human body.
The Possible Solution
BARC recommends RO (reverse osmosis) as the best method of distilling water for drinking in coastal regions as their primary function is desalination. According to Columbia University, reverse osmosis (RO) method of purifying water eliminates hardness, ions, metals, virus, bacteria, protozoa and pharmaceuticals. RO purifiers have ultra violet lamps that disinfect the water from all pathogens. The Activated Carbon filtration present in the RO purifiers remove chlorine and pesticides. RO purifiers are ergonomic and easy to use too, thereby making ideal for domestic use.
The scarcity of pure drinking water is increasing day by day. Also are the risks in consuming untreated groundwater or surface water. Climate change is making rainfall unpredictable. To fight against such threats, the governments and private organisations around the world are trying to come up with easy and cost-effective methods of purifying water. RO purifying method seems to be the best solution so far for coastal regions. Unless we clean the natural resources of water, technological alternatives are the only way.