The future of water is up in the air
"Atrapanieblas" or fog collection in Alto Patache, Atacama Desert, Chile. Image courtesy of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Benjamin Franklin once said “When the well runs dry, we will know the worth of water”. Sadly, it is a reality today.
Our world is running out of fresh water. We are so used to seeing water all around us, we don’t yet completely understand the severity of water scarcity. While 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only a scant 3% is drinkable. What's more, a large portion of it is tucked away in frozen glaciers and is off limits.
It doesn’t get any brighter if we look at water below the earth’s surface.
According to new satellite data from NASA, 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers - the underground layer of water-bearing permeable rocks - have passed their sustainability tipping point. We are removing more water than Nature can replace.
It isn’t surprising then, that around 780 million people worldwide now lack access to fresh water. Whether it’s California, Kenya or India, we are facing the worst droughts in almost half a century. Inadequate water has also resulted in lack of proper sanitation, exposing billions to deadly water-borne diseases.
Forecasts for the future are rather bleak. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will be living in areas with absolute water scarcity, with 2/3 of the global population living in water stressed conditions. What’s far more worrying is the fact that unlike energy, we haven’t found any new sources of water.
When XPRIZE identified the problem of water scarcity, we realized the need to find an alternate source for water. Solutions such as seawater desalination and waste-water treatment have much potential, yet they remain either environmentally destructive or woefully expensive.
What holds the biggest promise by far, are technologies that extract water from the atmosphere. Tucked away in the form of invisible water vapor, the air that surrounds us contains an astonishing 3 quadrillion gallons of water, at any given moment. That is enough to meet the needs of every person on the planet for an entire year!
Until now, attempts at creating a device that can extract water from the atmosphere have failed in being a cost-effective solution that can be adopted on a global scale. They consume too much energy and are powered using fossil fuels.
This inspired the perfect opportunity to create the Water Abundance XPRIZE, a $ 1 million incentive to anyone out there who can push the limits of what’s possible and create water out of thin air.
This is what we do. We begin by identifying an impending global crisis which needs to be addressed immediately. Then, instead of frittering money on the problem, we incentivize the solution and challenge the innovators of the world to solve it.
Engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs, the Water Abundance XPRIZE gauntlet is at your feet. Go ahead and pick it up! Find new access to this basic necessity of life!
This is your opportunity to rethink and revolutionize human access to freshwater, from source to supply. It’s your opportunity to shape the future of mankind.
To learn more about the Water Abundance XPRIZE, or join the competition, click here.