Water Crisis and Alternative Water Supply in Emergency Situations

What is a water crisis? How drastic could it be? Should we really be worried about a catastrophe and when will it happen?

Behind our regular home taps, which we naturally use dozens of times a day, there is a complex system that allows a constant supply of fresh water in the required quantity without limitations and of high quality. This system, like any other complex system, is vulnerable to damage that can prevent it from functioning partially or completely. This is called the “water crisis”. Some examples could be: a security breach (in wartime or by terrorist acts); a collapse of water infrastructure during a natural disaster (such as an earthquake) and technical malfunctions or accidents such as leaking hazardous materials into water sources, explosions of water pipes, etc.

A water crisis can be local and can affect a street, a neighborhood, an entire city, and even a neighborhood. In extreme cases, such as in natural disasters, a water crisis can occur on a large scale (national level).

Here, I will present some examples of recent years of water system collapses around the world, which happened unexpectedly:

West Virginia, January 2014:

Due to technical problems in an industrial factory, the Elk River, the only source of water for 300,000 people, was contaminated with the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. For two weeks the river water was so polluted that it could not be used for drinking. Even afterwards, the purification process lasted two months and the authorities supplied the citizens with water from alternative sources.

Japan, 2011:

Following an earthquake in Sendai and the subsequent tsunami wave, millions of people have been excluded from water supply systems for a long period of time. In addition, a high level of radioactive iodine was measured in the drinking water of large areas (including Tokyo). This was the result of the damage suffered by the nuclear reactors.

Haiti, 2010:

A strong earthquake hit the most populated areas of the country and caused a severe shortage of drinking water and sanitation over a long period of time for most of the population of Haiti. The day after the earthquake, the Red Cross estimates that 3 million people were affected by the disaster. It has been estimated by various sources that 250,000 people were injured and hundreds of thousands left without shelter and had to fight for food and water against criminal gangs Waterlooexterminators.ca

We have seen that the issue of the water crisis is fundamental and the threat of a large water outage or water pollution, which could affect thousands of civilians, is real. At least for survival problems (drinking and sanitation) water is a vital product that must be provided by the authorities in any scenario.

When we face water scarcity and water is not supplied by regular systems, the population is advised to avoid unknown and unsafe water sources, and it is the responsibility of the authorities to provide water in an alternative way. In the past, cases have shown that lack of preparation leads to some degree of damage to human life and enormous economic consequences. Therefore, it is no wonder that many countries are looking into new and alternative ways of preparedness and are increasing the level of preparedness for crises like this in order to provide alternative water solutions and supplements for the public in times of emergency.

Israel, exposed to a wide range of threats that can cause a water crisis, is known for its extraordinary preparedness to solve this type of crisis and is leading the development of the international standard for alternative water supplement during the water crisis.

In another article we will discuss the range of unique solutions and equipment suggested by the Israeli authorities to provide water to the public in times of water crisis in alternative ways, at any time, for survival.

About the author:

Yahali Amit, a colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and CEO of Illitary Ltd., has extensive experience in managing emergencies and security events in general, and during water crises in particular both locally and nationally.

Amit is a former manager at the National Water Authority of Israel (Water Security Unit) and has a