Water and sanitation

Water and sanitation

Access to safe water and sanitation is the most basic human need for health and well-being. The demand for water has outpaced population growth and one in three people globally do not have access to safe drinking water, according to Unicef. Ensuring there is sufficient supply to meet demand, in the face of population growth, industrialisation and climate change, requires behavioural change and technological innovation.

Why is water and sanitation important?

Water scarcity is being aggravated by interrelated environmental problems – eg desertification, salination, pollution and climate change – as well as over extraction and large-scale national and international water diversion. Chemical engineers can provide advanced technologies and processes to improve the sustainability of municipal and industrial water supplies and treatment of wastewater.

Chemical engineers have an essential role to play in resolving the challenges associated with providing potable water and recycling and reusing wastewater, in municipal and industrial settings. Technology challenges to treat or recycle water, remove contaminants and dispose of by-products, are all challenges that chemical engineers are well placed to address.

Chemical engineers will play a key role in developing more effective and energy-efficient wastewater treatment and desalination processes, as well as the treatment and supply of potable water, improving the efficiency of industrial and communal water supply, and wastewater recycling, with recovery of valuable materials such as metals, nitrates, phosphates and biogas contributing to the overall system sustainability.

SDG alignment

This Priority Topic aligns with SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.