Since 1993, every year on 22 March, United Nation Observance celebrates World Water Day to raises awareness of the 2 billion people currently living without access to safe water. A fundamental focus of World Water Day is to stimulate action towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
This year’s the World Water Day theme is ‘Groundwater’ – Making the invisible visible’.
What is groundwater?
Groundwater is simply water found underground in aquifers, which are geological formations of rocks, sands and gravels that can hold water.
We may not see the groundwater but we well aware their existence. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enhances our lives. Essentially all of the freshwater in the world is from groundwater, suppling to our daily drinking water, sanitation systems, farming, industry and ecosystems.
Why should we care about groundwater?
Human activities around the world had significantly over-use the groundwater, where more water is abstracted from aquifers than is recharged by rain and snow. Agriculture is the largest consumer of the world’s freshwater resources, and more than one-quarter of the energy used globally is expended on food production and supply. Feeding a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050 will require a 60 percent increase in food production. About 40 percent of all the water used for irrigation comes from aquifers.1
How about Singapore? At present the average daily consumptions is nearly 430 million gallons, which is about 782 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Forecasted by 2060, Singapore’s total water demand will reach double the amount, with the non-domestic sector contribute to about 70%. The potential threats to the quality of groundwater are natural (geogenic) contamination and contaminant sources from land use and other human activities (anthropogenic contamination). Two of the most widely-spread geogenic contaminants are arsenic and fluoride. Naturally-occurring arsenic pollution in groundwater affects millions of people on all continents. For that reason, groundwater quality needs to be evaluated and monitored regularly.
The focus of World Water Day 2022 is raising awareness of groundwater, which is invisible but crucial to the world’s freshwater supply as climate change exacerbates.
While the world is forced to consider alternatives to water sources, the quality of the water produced/recovered from the conventional water sources becomes more critical. As such, water testing and monitoring is taking on a more important role in our daily lives. The most common parameters that are frequently sampled or monitored for water quality include temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, oxidation reduction potential (ORP), and turbidity. Other industry-specific water monitoring parameters may also include measuring total algae, or laboratory parameters such as biological oxygen demand (BOD) or total organic carbon (TOC).
How can GICG helps?
GICG seeks to assist various industries in monitoring water quality by providing appropriate technical advice and testing for water quality parameters, which includes (but is not limited to):
- Dissolved Oxygen Content
- Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)
- Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
In respond to this crucial resource as is the theme of this year’s World Water Day, ISO has many standards that help us all do just that.
“It is expected that arming consumers with such knowledge will lead to greater demand for water-efficient products,” he said.
“This will then encourage manufacturers to invest more in this area, and so the virtuous circle begins.”
Richard Lambert, Manager of the ISO committee3
These are hundreds of ISO standards that fund to the United Nations, SDG 6, concerning clean water and sanitation, pursuing to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. They specially address the target, “By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.”3
We must protect groundwater from pollution and use it sustainably, balancing the needs of people and the planet. Groundwater’s vital role in water and sanitation systems, agriculture, industry, ecosystems and climate change adaptation must be reflected in sustainable development policymaking. Either corporates industrial or SME, everyone require to play their roles. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource for our generation and the future generation.
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The links and book to find out more:
- The Singapore Water Story: Sustainable Development in an Urban City State; March 2013; Cecilia Tortajada, Asit K Biswas and Yugal Kishore Joshi
- World Water Day 2022 website: worldwaterday.org
- UN World Water Development Report 2022: www.unwater.org/publication_categories/world-water-development-report
- International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre: www.un-igrac.org
- UN-Water: Summary Progress Update 2021: SDG 6—water and sanitation for all: https://www.unwater.org/publications/summary-progress-update-2021-sdg-6-water-and-sanitation-for-all/
- UN-Water SDG 6 Data Portal: www.sdg6data.org
- FAO The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: http://www.fao.org/3/bl496e/bl496e.pdf
- World Bank: Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/32245
- ISO and water Year of publication:2017, Edition 2: https://www.iso.org/files/live/sites/isoorg/files/store/en/PUB100293.pdf