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Water as a natural resource is increasingly becoming scarce, and this, understandably has caused a lot of concern regarding the future availability of clean water. Most sources of clean and fresh water have diminished, and the reserves are gradually diminishing. Access to fresh clean water especially in arid areas has become a daunting challenge. Yet, the need for water now more than ever cannot be ignored. Arid areas usually have no water and, therefore, require water to be transported via pipes or the use of desalination plants, which are quite costly. None the less, water is a basic need and the government has to ensure people living in arid areas have access to fresh and clean water.

Providing fresh water in arid areas has always faced many challenges depending on the techniques used to provide water. Provision of fresh water to arid areas can be done in a couple of ways.

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A popular technique used to provide fresh water for people living in arid areas is the desert rain water harvesting technique. As the name suggests, this technique involves the harvesting or collecting of rain water in deserts and conserving it, instead of letting it run into rivers or lakes. Usually this method saves treatment costs, because it is already fresh and can be conserved in the country it is in. Tanks are built and strategically placed in the desert so that they collect and store rain water when it falls. This technique’s advantage is that it is not extremely costly. The only const involved is that of the building or buying the tanks required to collect rain water. Water collected is fresh and does not need treatment.

The desert rain water harvesting technique’s greatest challenge is the unreliability of rainfall in arid areas. Rainfall in these areas is unreliable, because it may or may not fall and also in the sense it may fall in little amounts that will be insufficient to cater for all the people living in these areas. This method is usually the most effective, because during heavy rainfall, which are occurred sometimes in the desert water is collected for harvesting and requirements of the people living in this regions.

Another major challenge with the desert rain water harvesting technique is that water stored in tanks is often prone to contamination. Usually this water may be contaminated by poisonous gases and dust in the air. The fact that this water is usually not treated means that the users run the risk of falling ill should the water be contaminated.

Another technique applied in the provision of fresh water to arid areas is the reuse or recycling of waste water. Therefore, water that has already been used is collected, cleaned, treated and reused. This is a prudent way of ensuring that the scarce resource water gets depleted at a slower rate. This is especially a brilliant idea for water for industrial use, or for uses other than human consumption. Recycled water, however, is sometimes used for human consumption.

This technique also faces a couple of challenges. One of them is the cost incurred in recycling and treating the water to make it clean enough for human oral consumption. It involves the use of complicated and expensive equipment as well as purifying ingredients. Costs incurred more often than not are transferred to the users so that it becomes costly for persons living in these areas to use recycled water. This technique may also pose danger for the users’ health as the technique may not always completely purify water that is contaminated. This water is, therefore, most appropriate for other uses other than oral consumption. This technique cannot be solely relied on, because it is not possible to collect every ounce of water used. The used water recycled is only a portion of all the water used, and therefore, the water is gradually depleted.

Desalination is a technique that involves making salty water fresh by removing the salt in it. This can be done in a couple of ways and it is a technique that has been used for a long time. Sailors used this method long before technological methods were discovered. They separated or removed salt from sea water through solar evaporation. Today, the processes involved in desalination include electro dialysis, flash evaporation and in most cases distillation. This method is pretty expensive. There have been measures taken to reduce the costs incurred in using this technique however. One of them is ensuring that the desalination plant is placed next to an electrical plant that heats sea water used to cool the electrical generating units. Lately, experts have found that it is cheaper to use brackish ground waters for desalination rather than sea water, because it has been found that brackish ground waters contain only a tenth of the salinity found in sea water. As a result, desalination is accomplished faster and more easily not to mention at less costs (Wheater, 2010).

These methods` main advantage is the fact that water is available even during severe droughts. Sea water cannot be depleted and as long as the funds and necessary equipment for desalination are available, then fresh water can be made accessible to people living in arid areas at all times. This method is one of the best techniques, especially in areas where brackish ground waters are available. However, many arid areas in dire need of fresh water are found in African third world countries, and even though the water required for desalination is available, they lack funds and the necessary equipment for this process.

The use of underground water for a long time has been the most popular technique used. It, however, is also an expensive venture and requires complex tools and equipment in addition to treatment. Underground water in some instances is fresh, but most of the time this water is hard and must be treated to make it fresh. In most cases underground water is  fit for human consumption. It is accessed by the digging of wells and boreholes. This involves drilling into the ground until the drillers reach the water table. Natural underground pressure causes the water to surface and once the drilled hole is cemented to avoid caving in, water is always available even in dry seasons. Underground water is not easily depleted and usually is used for tens of years before it gets depleted (Alsharhan, 2001).

The above methods are all viable and efficient techniques of providing fresh water. For countries with financial and capital resources, desalination is one of the best techniques of providing fresh water in arid areas. However, for countries whose financial stability is wanting, especially third world countries, the use of underground water would be a prudent venture. These countries are advantaged, because they still have a lot of untapped resources. In most of these countries, underground water is still untapped and is, therefore, available for consumption. There are costs incurred in the drilling of wells and boreholes, but these costs are way less compared to those incurred in desalination and recycling. Harvesting of rain water is also unreliable since it depends on rainfall, a rare occurrence in arid areas.

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