Earth’s Diminishing Water Supply and Budding Clean Technologies

Imagine a world without water. Frighteningly, a decreasing clean water supply is, in fact, a reality. Fortunately, innovators are tapping into some pretty promising emergent technologies that just might help prevent a planet-wide water crisis.

This Sunday, on Breakthrough: Water Apocalypse, actress and director Angela Bassett crosses the globe to meet community members and innovators making a difference in some of the places suffering most from this unsettling and, in many cases, grave situation.

For the past five weeks, we’ve invited experts and pioneers from a variety of topics investigated in the Breakthrough series to dive deep into some of the hot issues presented in each episode. This week, in connection with the series finale, we asked some of our favorite green technology and environmental experts to weigh in on the following questions:

With California facing drought devastation, are we doing enough to bring this issue to national attention? How can we do a better job of making people care about this?

Here’s what they had to say:

Tina Casey, a technology writer for CleanTechnica who specializes in alternative energy, hones in on the big issue at hand, writing, “The main point of Water Apocalypse is that in order to provide for the potable water needs of the Earth’s burgeoning population, we need to get cracking on new ways to re-use and purify non-potable water. All that takes a lot of energy, and renewables offer a way to get the job done without increasing carbon emissions.” Casey also recognizes the importance of having local commitment to fixing this problem. “As portrayed in Water Apocalypse, small-scale on-site renewable energy generation and local community solutions also have a major role to play. The bamboo dew collector, for example, was constructed with local residents using local materials, with the aim of teaching other nearby communities to build their own water supply,” she says.

The experts at Nature World Report (NWR) consider the harsh reality of this challenging situation, noting, “The most obvious technologies that could aid humanity in the face of a Water Apocalypse are desalination methods. Technologies already exist for converting salt water into potable water, but so far most of the technologies are prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for poorer areas of the world, such as North Africa.” The post goes on to mention one of the most efficient desalination plants in the world (in Israel), explaining that, “For a wealthy nation like Israel, such a plant is feasible. For a poorer country like Libya, paying for such a facility is still out of reach. Even debt-ridden California would struggle to pay for such a massive desalination plant.” NWR concludes, “In order to reduce the impact of water scarcity, a two-pronged approach is a must. Countries need to work together to reduce the rate at which the world is warming, which should help avert even worse droughts and over time may be able to reverse the impact. At the same time, new freshwater production technologies and water saving techniques must be developed, but with an emphasis on affordability.”

Industrial Test Systems, Inc., experts on water quality testing put it bluntly, saying, “There is a lot of opportunity in every decision to make better choices concerning water usage. Our planet is facing the devastating loss of a vital resource: clean water. Now, innovators across the globe are seeking solutions in emergent technologies to prevent a planet-wide water crisis.”

Thank you to all our experts for sharing their unique outlooks on this timely topic. Tune in to BREAKTHROUGH: Water Apocalypse this Sunday, Dec. 13, at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic Channel. Watch a preview from the finale:

A group of scientists have developed a system that will generate power and desalinate water with the net gain being zero emissions drinking water due to Australia’s drought suffrage.


  1. Elisabeth Gerlach
    Van Wert Ohio
    December 13, 2015, 10:14 pm

    How could you go through an entire program without showing the earthship concept? It doesn’t touch ground water and reuses things that would otherwise become toxic in oue oceans or land fills. Produces more energy than it uses and solves the problem of human waste and provides food at the same time.