Earth reflected in a drop of water on a leaf Earth reflected in a drop of water on a leaf Our global thirst for water makes every drop precious. (Photo: Yellowj/Shutterstock)

5 countries with cutting-edge water technology

From desalination to smart metering, these global leaders are ushering in a future of clean water.

Countries impacted by drought and growing populations have made important new strides in the pursuit of better, and more accessible, water. Techniques vary depending on each country's particular needs and strengths, but they usually involve one or more of three methods: desalination, water conservation and water recycling. Here are five countries that are leading the way to the future of water technology.


Saudi Arabia

khobar water tower saudi arabia photo Khobar water tower in Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Francisco Anzola/Flickr)

Saudi Arabia has long been a leader in desalination. In fact, it’s the largest producer of desalinated water in the world. Most recently, it's taken desalination technology to the next level by introducing desalination powered by renewable, solar energy – a resource that’s plentiful in this desert nation. It’s home to the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) desalination plant in the city of Al Khafji. By 2019, Saudi Arabia wants all desalination plants to be powered by solar technology.


Israel

water conservation technology in Israel photo A desalination plant in Israel. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr)

Israel has always been a leader in water conservation technology because of its desert location. But today that necessity has grown into an economic incentive. The country recycles 85 percent of wastewater. By 2020, it estimates that 50 percent of its agricultural needs will be met with recycled water. Additionally, with more than 300 water technology companies specializing in desalination, it earns $2 billion annually by exporting its water to other countries.


Greece

Milos Island, GreeceMilos is a hotbed of geothermal activity. (Photo: Petros Tsonis/Shutterstock)

Geothermal renewable energy is plentiful on the island of Milos in Greece because of its location on the Aegean Volcanic Arc. Magma trapped beneath the Earth's surface heats the surrounding rocks and the water trapped within the rocks creating geothermal resevoirs. The hot water created is piped through underground wells where it becomes hot steam, which spins turbines and generates energy. Geothermal energy is used to convert sea water and brackish water by heating up water to form water vapor that is condensed into drinking water and water for irrigation. It's a source of abundant energy that's inexpensive and doesn't depend on fossil fuels. That’s why the country’s new geothermal desalination project is an ideal fit. The plant will provide desalinated water at a low cost to residents of the island.


United Kingdom

smart metering photo Smart water metering technology. (Photo: Via Gallery/Flickr)

United Kingdom is a leader in smart water metering technology, enabling residents to monitor their water usage online. Smart meters provide users with more detailed information about how water is being used and in what quantities. It allows households to get a better hold on their water usage each month and encourages residents to install water efficient appliances and other water-saving technologies in their homes. It also helps customers pinpoint leaks that cause increased usage. By 2030, Thames Water, a leading U.K. provider, wants smart water meters installed in every home it serves.


United States

desalination plant photo Desalination plant at the U.S. Air Force Base at Ascension Island. (Photo: Lance Cheung/Flickr)

In the U.S., California has been besieged by historic droughts, which have been the stimulus to build the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. Once completed, the plant will pump 50 million gallons of seawater per day through a 10-mile water delivery pipeline, one of the most advanced plants in the world. The plant, located in Southern California, will be completed in 2016.

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