Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

Author: Anna Escher / Source: TechCrunch It’s World Water Day. Time to wake up and take shorter showers. That is, if we’re fortunate enou

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It’s World Water Day. Time to wake up and take shorter showers. That is, if we’re fortunate enough to have them. Water scarcity and pollution are persistent global problems. According to End Water Poverty, some 663 million people around the world have absolutely no reliable access to clean, safe water year-round. And two-thirds of the world population faces water scarcity for at least one month every year.

In the wealthy US, we’re facing a different kind of water crisis largely of our own making. In 2016 only 9 states reported safe lead levels in their schools’ water supply. Lead and copper contamination can come from irresponsible industry, aging pipes, ineffectual water treatment plants and too little investment in our public water infrastructure.

Droughts and natural disasters can cut off access to potable and sanitary water anywhere in the world, too. Haiti is known as a “pipeless nation,” still recovering from 2010’s catastrophic earthquake and consequent natural disasters. In Haiti, only one-quarter of residents have access to toilets, according to the World Bank. And it’s hard to believe it, but giant freshwater sources in North America like Lake Mead in Arizona or the Colorado River may not be able to keep pumping to residents’ homes and businesses much longer thanks to drought and pollution.

Our daily consumption of water affects future supply, of course. Right now, according to research by WWF, wasteful irrigation systems on farms consume about 70% of the world’s freshwater, over double that of any other industry. By contrast, municipal water represents a mere 8% of global use. Bad irrigation practices in farming can hurt our water in other ways, washing pollutants into rivers, streams or other freshwater ecosystems.

At TechCrunch, we’re lucky to see the hopeful ways that startups, investors and other organizations are working to solve huge problems plaguing humanity with tech, including the global water crisis. Here are 12 to watch:

WaterO is a purifying hardware that uses reverse osmosis rather than carbon filters. The startup teamed up with the charity WATERisLIFE to send 5,000 of the company’s water filtration systems to help give Flint residents access to clean drinking water. The system uses pressure to push water through a membrane, leaving particles larger than H2O behind. It’s effective in removing heavy metals like lead and mercury, along with chlorine and bacteria.

Charity: water is focused on helping people get access to clean water. Founder Scott Harrison has gotten support from the tech community throughout the years, with entrepreneurs like Sean Parker and Michael Birch involved with the organization.

Backed by Y Combinator, TeeSpring and the Shuttleworth Foundation, The Human Utility is helping low-income…

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