Earth Month is celebrated with the aim of helping the University of Oklahoma become more sustainable. It is organized by various student groups, sponsors, and departments on campus. “The Challenges of Water Availability” was the last event featuring a distinguished speaker, Dr. Danny Reible, followed by a panel discussion with OU professors Robert Nairn, Kyle Murray, and Cindy Simon Rosenthal.
According to Dr. Reible, the biggest mistake we are making with regard to water is not valuing it as we should. He believes in reducing the water crisis, despite the disruptions in supply due to climate variability and market instability. He focused on how all water problems and solutions are local by giving the example of southern states’ approach to the crisis as compared to that of third world countries. Dr. Reible also highlighted the circumstance of being more concerned with small rural communities who do not have access and resources to combat the issue of water.
Dr. Reible explained various technologies for “new” water such as reusing municipal effluents, employing brackish waters, and reusing back and produced water. This will improve our ability to use produced water from oil and gas activities, to trend in hydraulic fracturing towards simple fracturing fluid, to increase recognition of “fit for use” water (using water appropriate for a particular application), and to adapt the use to the water instead of adapting the water to the use.
This lecture concluded with the understanding that there are water challenges, but there are also opportunities and solutions. Dr. Reible addressed the fact that water consumption is low in conventional power plants and most sources of energy, improving with natural gas and natural power. Therefore, even though there are growing challenges to quality that increase the vulnerability of the water supply system, there are ways we can overcome the issue.
Nayyifa Nihad is the Students Section Editor for OU Forum. Nayyifa is an international student from the Maldives who is a Davis Scholar and an alumni from the United World College of Southern Africa. She is majoring in International Studies with French and Women and Gender Studies minors. She likes travelling, reading, writing, and sharing her perspective on things she believes in through her experiences. The topic of “water” is really close to her heart, coming from a country considered to be one of the first countries to be completely submerged underwater due to the rising of sea levels.