A forward-looking strategy to ensure water supply

Time is ripe to start considering seriously the establishment of desalination plants in Bangladesh as our rivers are experiencing leaner and more polluted flows and it is proving to be too dangerous to encourage free style lifting of underground water for the land subsidence the same appears to be causing amid the growing threat of earthquakes.
Indian authorities, upstreams, have set up barrages on many points of common rivers between India and Bangladesh. Even bigger Indian barrages are about to be constructed and the threat of worse waterlessness in Bangladesh could be round the corner. There is complete uncertainty regarding whether Bangladesh would be able to pin down India in fruitful negotiations leading to the latter giving Bangladesh a fair share of waters from all the common rivers.
But, meanwhile, the need for fresh water from drinking and cleaning to irrigation and industrial uses would be fast increasing in Bangladesh. Already, fresh water supply has become a serious concern in many parts of this country. The first growing human population of the country and rise in water’s demand for various uses will only likely compound its problem of fresh water’s demand far outstripping supply in the near future.
Thus, the need for fresh water in Bangladesh will have to be met from non conventional sources to a great extent. Desalination plants to remove salt from sea water and using the same like fresh water will have to be the main source of such non conventional supply of water on a large scale for Bangladesh. For example, Saudi Arabia, a big desert country, where agriculture hardly existed on a large scale, has achieved a miracle of sorts by getting the desert lands suitable for cultivation with water from desalination plants.
Humans cannot drink saline water. But, saline water from the ocean can be made into fresh water, which everyone needs everyday. The process is called desalination, and it is being used more and more around the world to provide people with needed fresh water. As the population continues to grow worldwide, shortages of fresh water will occur more often. What is now considered as free gift of nature could be in severe short supply. Bangladesh would not be an exception in this worldwide fresh water crisis. Therefore, it is time for this country to at least recognize water desalination plants as a longer term solution to its problem of not having enough usable water in the future.
It should seriously consider desalination plants as an appropriate forward moving strategy for its future water security. The realization should lead to taking of actions as soon as possible to line up funds and technical supports from donors to be ready to actually start building such plants as the fresh water crunch turns deeper. For not only building such plants, the desalinated waters from these will have to be piped over long distance –inland–to major user points in the cities and agricultural areas. Thus, ample investments will be required for laying infrastructures to bring such waters to the doorsteps of the people.
A promising method to desalinate seawater is the “reverse osmosis” method. Right now, the cost of desalination has kept it from being used more often. But desalination technology is improving and costs are falling. As both the demand for fresh water and technology increase, one may expect to see more desalination plants getting established round the world.
Already desalination plants are a part of life in many parts of the world. A January 17, 2008, article in the Wall Street Journalstates, “World-wide, 13,080 desalination plants are producing more than 12 billion gallons of water a day. ” Even in India, next door to Bangladesh, big cities have started depending on desalination plants. A large part of the water supply of Chennai, a major Indian city, is now supplied through a desalination plant. Australia is now building what would be the biggest desalination plant in the world to supply 150 billion litres of water a year to Melbourne, Geelong and some regional communities.
The world’s oceans hold 97 per cent of the water on this planet. Because of changing climate, growing population and drought, there is need to use some of the waters of oceans to make sure we do not suffer badly from shortage of fresh water due to not taking steps in time to start using sea waters which offer a seemingly inexhaustible source of supply.


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