By Rehan Iqbal
Anyone who knows about blockchain immediately thinks about Bitcoin. It is the technology that links computers to provide the computing power that makes cryptocurrencies safe and efficient. The idea of using blockchain technology for other applications has been suggested for a while. Now it is being implemented to help control and manage water treatment.
Why Water Treatment is Necessary?
Climate change, sustainability, resource management, these are all terms that have become common over the past 40-years. As we’ve become more aware of our responsibilities to manage our resources more sustainably, we’ve had to find innovative methods of achieving or goals.
Water is fast becoming the most valued resource on the planet. This has made water treatment and recycling an important issue that needs urgent attention. The EPA and most global environmental organizations recommend water recycling as one of the best ways to prevent a water supply crisis.
Whether it’s a government level or individual efforts in our homes, the need to conserve and mage water responsibly is paramount to all of our collective futures. We all need to play our role in this effort.
One of the challenges facing water analysis and treatment is the collection and storage of large amounts of data. Providing access to multiple organizations and individuals so that they can utilize this data is also a challenge. Another issue that needs to be considered is data security. If a system were to crash and all the data is lost, it could affect multitudes of water treatment facilities. Altering or manipulating this data is a consideration that needs to be addressed. Unscrupulous companies, or hackers with malicious intent can cause water treatment data to be corrupted and falsified.
While it’s possible to provide almost limitless capacity for data processing and storage, it can become prohibitively expensive. Similarly, multiple redundancy systems to ensure information is safely stored are also very costly. Internet security is something we all have to contend with, and we all know how expensive that can be. When you have thousand, possibly millions of people accessing a water treatment database, keeping that information secure becomes a hugely expensive undertaking.
Proving the funding for building, maintaining, and operating water treatment plants is already proving to be an enormous challenge. This leaves very few resources for data storage and management. To find a solution, engineers started to look into blockchain technology as a viable way to process, store and share water treatment data.
How Will Blockchain Improve Water Treatment?
Currently, there is very little regulation regarding water treatment. The oil and gas industry are amongst the largest contributors of contaminated water around the world. There are many other industries that also dump massive amounts of contaminated water into our natural water supplies. All these industries are required to treat their wastewater to ensure that it is safe for the environment, at least in the US and other developed countries. All of our municipal wastewater also needs to be treated.
With so many different water treatment plants acting independently, it is virtually impossible to keep track of who is doing what, and how effectively they are managing the situation. Each organization keeps their own records of what water has been treated, how it is treated, and where that water eventually ends up. There is no communication between the different parties to make the system more effective or efficient.
By coordinating all the water treatment data into one centralized source, everyone can access it. This improves our ability to observe and integrate water treatment programs. It also improves transparency. If everyone, including you and me, are able to check what is done by a particular company to treat their wastewater, they don’t have the opportunity to hide improper practices. Awareness causes action.
A combined, blockchain database will be invaluable in educating people, and for future planning. Information is empowering and sharing it is even more so. By accessing data from a blockchain data base, state authorities and individuals can assess which systems are working more efficiently and which are under performing. With this information, we can improve our ability when planning for future water treatment facilities.
Sharing all this data on a secure cost-effective network is going to improve the viability of water treatment in the future, by making it much cheaper. Shared data allows us to make much better decisions, which is going to avoid costly mistakes and oversights. The combined experience of all water treatment facilities is a potentially valuable asset in our efforts to obtain full water security.
Water Treatment in the Future
In the years to come, water treatment is going to be more critical. We simply have to take better care of our resources, and water is the most essential of all. This is going to take a concerted effort by everyone involved. As individuals, awareness is growing when it comes to environmental issues. This is because we have access to information and the will to do something about it.
In the internet age, information has become widely accessible. However, it is not without its challenges. With an ever-growing amount of data being supplied, making it easy to access and use is becoming increasingly complicated. It is also difficult to ensure that the information we receive is accurate and true. It’s almost as though information has become too much of a good thing. We simply can’t handle all of the data that bombards the web each minute.
Blockchain presents a workable solution for this conundrum. Not only for water treatment, but all information that is in the common interest, can be shared using this technology. In the realm of water management, the advantages will be colossal.
If, for example, you suspect a factory in your area is dumping toxic water into the local water supply, where can you get the information you need to prove it? Currently, it is almost impossible for private citizens to obtain the information they need to know what is happening to their water and other important resources. This makes it easy for companies without any regard for public safety to get away with criminal behavior.
If this information were available publicly, you would be empowered to take action. By checking on a public database what is being done to treat the water coming from a suspect factory, you are able to do something about it. You can contact your local representatives, senator, or governor, demanding action. You can also form community groups that can take group legal action against companies and organizations that don’t comply with water treatment regulations.
You can also monitor the efficacy of how water is treated. When you notice that the treatment of wastewater in your area is not achieving desirable results. In other words, despite the treatment that is being administered, your water is not satisfactory, you can make this known to the relevant authorities.
This mass of information will also be available to government departments, like the EPA; state and municipal authorities, as well as environmental action groups. By increasing the availability of water treatment data more accessible, a lot more can be done to improve the water quality around the world.
The use of blockchain for water treatment is still in its infancy. Some members of the fracking industry, desperate to improve their image, are using blockchain to share information on how they are treating their water. This is a good step in the right direction as fracking contaminates 10 barrels of water for every 1 barrel of oil it produces. This is a humble beginning to a potentially great source of common information.
In the future, we should hope to see the water treatment database grow through the use of blockchain technology. Ideally, every individual, company, or organization dealing with water treatment, purification, and distribution should be required to make their information freely available on a common, easily accessible database. This will help with better planning around the world to improve water management and empower each individual with the knowledge of what is being done to improve our water security.
We are a long way from complete access to accurate information for all when it comes to water treatment. Small steps have been taken and we can only hope that these baby steps turn into giant strides. Eventually, it should be possible for every citizen of every country to have reliable, accurate information relating to the water we all have to share. Since water security is matter of global concern, affecting everyone, this information is vital. If we are all properly informed, we can do more to ensure that our future water supply is going to be safe and sufficient.