No one is more familiar with the effects of continued periods of drought than students at UC Riverside in Southern California.
The year 2017, saw the largest ever fire in California history, the Thomas fire, which consumed more than one-quarter of a million acres of land. Many University of California-Riverside students live in the area north of LA, close enough to the burning inferno to be evacuated. Drought conditions were blamed for the rapid spread of that, and also for the much smaller, but potentially as lethal, Riverside fire.
Drought Is Only the Beginning of Global Concerns
Because drought conditions are so widespread, over the last decade, water has been routed south from Northern California, and even as far north as Oregon, to offer relief to this highly populated and underserved part of the state. Unfortunately, drought is only one of the global concerns when it comes to critical shortages of water.
Currently, environmental engineers are seeking solutions to critical shortages of water across the globe. India is also a drought-prone nation, but with a growing population, water shortages will continue to get progressively worse. In other words, drought is just the beginning.
More Than One Billion People Lack Adequate Drinking Water Worldwide
When studying for an advanced degree at UC Riverside, students focusing on environmental engineering have a first-hand glance at water shortages in overpopulated areas. Los Angeles County boasts a population exceeding 10 million people, and as a neighboring county to the west of Riverside, that water shortage hits too close to home for comfort. Now take into consideration that before the turn of the next century, when the global population is expected to grow by almost three billion more people, water shortages will perhaps become a leading cause of death in many overpopulated developing nations.
Solutions Being Sought
So, how are environmental engineers addressing this severe shortage of drinking water? One area of concern is the over drafting of water from the aquifer. Groundwater is the largest source of drinking water and once the aquifer has been over drafted, it is no longer a source of water for the millions of people relying on it. Environmental engineers are working on water reclamation systems that purify wastewater feeding into rivers and streams, but that is only one solution.
Working closely with other environmentalists, UC-Riverside Online graduates are seeking to find rapid solutions to climate change. With warmer temperatures expected in snowbelts, this is a huge area of focus. Bear in mind that almost one-third of the world’s drinking water comes from snowmelt, and you’ll see why environmental engineers are working around the clock to find alternatives in the event that climate change cannot be forestalled.
The Need for Environmental Engineers Growing at Epidemic Rates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 new environmental engineers will need to be added to the workforce within the next few years in the United States alone. However, according to other sources, that is an estimate that is entirely too low for our current needs, notwithstanding the growing shortage of potable water in underdeveloped nations around the world.
The best way science can address global water shortages is to raise up a new generation of environmental engineers who are capable of finding solutions within the very science they study.