Goal 6.4: An efficient use of water resources

Goal 6.4: An efficient use of water resources
2019. Spanish cooperation project for improving management and coverage of water and sanitation services in indigenous Quiché communities, Departamento de Sololá (Guatemala) © FCAS de la AECID

Goal 6.4: An efficient use of water resources

Goal 6.4 aims «by 2030, to considerably increase the efficient use of water resources in all sectors and to ensure sustainability of freshwater extraction and supply so as to cope with water shortages and significantly reduce the number of people who lack water». This goal aims to reduce water shortages and to guarantee that water resources are sufficient for populations, the development of their economies and environmental sustainability, through an improvement in the efficient use of water in all sectors of society. Let’s bear in mind that for the year 2050 and at current world growth rates, at least 25% of the population (in theory) will experience drinking water shortages, so we need to implement water management action to guarantee availability of this resource and sustainable management of it.

This may be one of the weakest points which need more attention if SDG on use of water are to be achieved. Unless water management is improved and made more efficient (and associated infrastructures), and without deep knowledge of the water supply systems (surface and underground), millions of people will go on dying every year and natural  systems dependent on water will be affected, which means putting future sustainability of water resources for humans and for environmental conservation at risk.

There are many steps which can be taken to improve efficient management of water resources and to reduce water stress situations which cause or will cause conflict. We could start with scientific and technical knowledge of available water resources (glaciers, lakes, rivers and underground water), minimise water consumption in those sectors which use it the most and in the greatest quantities, for example farming by using a drip system, mining (reuse of water) and industrial (recycling process waters), and also by controlling leakage, or non-revenue water in transport and storage systems and freshwater distribution.

The top graphic is from an integral water and sanitation project, very similar to that at Jalapa, carried out by FCAS in Guatemala for the areas of Las Canoas and Chirijcruz, municipio de Santa Lucia, Departamento de Sololá, whose 405 inhabitants of the Maya-Quiché ethnic group have been given efficient use of water via a system which uses underground water by drilling mechanical wells, a pumping station to a regulation deposit, and a distribution network. To set up this system, previous hydro-geological studies were carried out to determine the capacity of the underground resources and reserves and the necessary flow rate for the population, always bearing in mind present and future requirements.

Among poor social groups with low incomes it is difficult to maintain pumping systems due to maintenance costs (in this case a double pump was needed to reach the required height of the water tank), so it was decided that, so as to guarantee economic sustainability and also that of natural resources, a solar panel station be built on the same land as the impulsion channel. Thanks to the solar panel station, which produces electrical energy to sell to the general electricity grid, basic income is generated which is used for present and future sustainability of water extraction for the two communities.