SELA wants to demonstrate how engineering could have an impact in tackling the myriad of sustainability issues which plague our society before irreparable damage is done.We want to raise awareness for engineering solutions for water shortage and wastage as it does not feel like it is seen as that much of an issue. The UK has a constant supply of water and yet many everyday wastages are squandering it. All while, the WWF says 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion people find water scarce for at least one month of the year.
We took a holistic, system-wide overview of our water habits, focusing on the shortcomings. This process identified a variety of options, many of which could only be solved by imposing oppressive standards on everyday people. We have found this unacceptable as engineering, particularly the civil side, is all about making our daily lives better, and fixing problems with as little negative-impact as possible. Once we ruled out tackling individual water consumption, we quite literally delved deeper, uncovering that the very pipe networks beneath our feet caused most of the problems, and so they became our focus. We identified that around 25% of all the water that enters our distribution system is
lost through cracks, breaks and leaks before it reaches the consumer – this is an unacceptable volume, amounting to 3.1 billion litres a day in England and Wales alone.
We want to inspire and empower young people to meet this challenge with modern, innovative, and efficient engineering solutions. The first step was outlining why it was a big enough issue to warrant their time, so we discussed the often unseen consequences it brings to people in the present day, and extrapolating it across the next thirty years to hint at how life in 2050 may look. We want to explain why the traditional ways of repairing the leaks are outdated, ineffective, and in dire need of replacement.
Engineers working in this area can help build more efficient water systems, find new water sources, reduce the need for water in certain industries to help save supplies and many more things. A car uses water to cool down the engine when it gets too hot but you never have to put water into the car, this is because engineers have built efficient cooling systems that stop any water escaping. So the same water can be used over and over again. Some problems we can solve in different ways, the problem of not enough drinkable water can be solved by finding more freshwater or being more efficient with the systems we currently use. Both of these possible solutions allow us to distribute water more effectively and it is up to our engineering judgment of what is best to do.
As a society we all need to think of things we can do to help out. Industries waste lots of water and work hard to fix leaking pipes, overfilling and spillages but we as citizens need to work hard too. Turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, and taking showers instead of baths is a great way to help out. Where else is water wasted in your life?