AI and the Global Water Crisis

Countries and societies all over the world have felt the severe and detrimental effects of the global water crisis. Less than approximately 1% of the Earth’s surface water is both potable, or suitable for human consumption and easily accessible, as much of it is trapped in glaciers and snowfields. It has thus become almost imperative to save as much water as possible in order to sustain a future of our next generations. Unfortunately, outside factors such as the wastage of water, along with worsening weather conditions, and the significant effects of global warming has only proved to exacerbate the situation. A perilous fresh water shortage looms over our heads and will continue to worsen if drastic steps are not taken to find a long-lasting solution.

Even more pressing, however, is the crucial need to clean up and stabilize drinking water. As of right now, much of what’s left of a steadily declining amount of freshwater is dangerously polluted, to the extent that “across the world, about 1.8 billion people currently use a water source contaminated with waste,” according to the United Nations.



Currently, scientists have started using artificial intelligence as one of the technologies to help to help anticipate and reduce water wastage. Through “smart” households and larger infrastructure, AI has the ability to significantly refine water and waste management systems, making it simpler to screen water quality, manage utilization, and predict maintenance needs. With a few advancements, machine learning and blockchain combined have the potential to create decentralized water systems that operate on a closed-loop recycling of regional resources. Such a framework would be extremely effective, helping to keep drinking water clean and ample for years to come.

In addition, experts at the Water, Peace and Security Partnership (WPS) have been utilizing AI technology to develop a tool to accurately foresee where global water conflicts will transpire possibly up to a year in advance. According to the specialists, alerts from the system could also be employed to inspect the causes of such water conflicts and direct specifically targeted aid to areas that need it most. Water insecurity rates around the world are climbing as a result of population growth and increasing economic demand. With roughly 36% of the worldwide populace effectively situated in water-scarce regions, the crisis has become an even greater risk to global security, economies, and livelihoods.The new AI system plans to track water supplies and merge this data with social, economic, and demographic information to redflag any areas where water-related security threats are forming. Testing has already shown successful results, as the tool was able to predict more than 75% of water-related conflicts in Mali’s Inner Niger Delta.

The distinct root(s) of the scarcity of water are especially varied and location specific, which has made it hard to distinguish high-risk areas in the past. Luckily, AI technology overcomes these obstacles by effectively marrying advanced remote sensing, large data sets, and machine learning. It is ultimately shaping up to be one of society’s most accommodating tools and with it, we can begin making amends with our environment for a healthier planet in the near future.

Meher Bhatia