Water Shortages / Extreme Weather Events: A Mega Trend
In the most recent decades, temperatures have been on the rise worldwide. Droughts are becoming ever more frequent, and at the same time, more and more extreme weather events are being recorded. As scientific evidence suggests, the causal factor is decades of climate-damaging emission of greenhouse gases.
So-called drought monitors run by research institutes such as the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research or the European Drought Observatory are used to demonstrate droughts. Also, comparisons between the situation in the past and today have convincingly proven the increase in aridity. High temperatures not only lead to an increasing shortage of rainfall, but also mean a higher evaporation rate. The retreating glaciers in the Alps have become less and less able to temporarily retain rainwater and thus can no longer feed the lakes and rivers sufficiently. Compared to the past, hot spells have come to last significantly longer.
Desastrous consequences of water scarcity
Aridity has come to affect almost all of Europe, with devastating consequences: driedup fields, rivers and wells, empty water reservoirs, sinking ground water and lake levels. Water scarcity thus impacts agriculture, energy supply, the transport sector, the economy and the population. In case of extreme drought, some of the agricultural production (which consumes approx. 60 % of the pan- European fresh water supply) (1), is lost, thus endangering livestock farming. In Italy, the government declared a state of emergency in summer 2022 for some of its regions. In many places in Europe, the shipping traffic had to be reduced drastically, fuel did not make it to coal-fired power plants, hydroelectric power stations needed to be shut down, and so did nuclear power plants for lack of cooling water. Moreover, the increased “sewage percentage” in running waters plus more elevated water temperatures disrupt the ecosystem of rivers, as the river Oder shows.
In addition, cities have come to experience extreme heat in summers, a byproduct of proliferating area sealing over the last decades.
All over Europe, the frequency of forest fires has been increasing steadily, representing a threat to the habitat and life of humans and animals. In the event of hot spells lasting for weeks, mortality rates have also been shown to increase significantly.
Plastic pipes for the water industry
Prolonged hot spells frequently culminate in thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain or by sudden weather changes. The dried earth, however, cannot absorb the high amounts of water resulting from these weather events. Insufficient water absorbancy means overloading the sewers and dam water basins which have been dimensioned for normal conditions, resulting in tremendous damage caused by flooding and extremely high water levels. In Germany alone, damages related to the extreme weather events in 2021 totalled 80 billion Euros (2) and resulted in significant human suffering. After very heavy rainfalls, rivulets turned into torrents.
In view of these increasingly frequent periods of excessive rain, the storage capacities for surface water should generally be expanded. Also, incentives to promote saving water and reuse of grey water should be introduced. Thanks to their broad scope of applications and long useful life, plastic pipes can be used in many ways to optimize water management (see Tab below).
The increase in temperatures can only be limited by coordinated and decisive actions such as those provided for by the Paris Climate Agreement or the Green Deal.
(1) www.eea.europa.eu/ims/use-of-freshwater-resources-in-europe-1 (as of 25.10.2022)
(2) www.bmwk.de/Redaktion/DE/Pressemitteilungen/2022/07/20220718-hitze-durre-starkregen-uber-80-milliarden-euro-schaden-durch-extremwetter-in-deutschland.html (as of 25.10.2022)
|Agriculture||Irrigation pipe systems||Targeted irrigation of agricultural areas|
|Water supply||Permanently leakage-tight and sustainable transport pipes||Fully welded pressure pipe systems to prevent drop leaks|
|Drinking water protection||Sewage pipe systems with leakage monitoring||Protection of resources in drinking water protection zones|
|Drinking water protection||Diffusion-tight pipe systems to preserve the quality of drinking water||Protection and securing of the usability of existing drinking water resources|
|Drinking water supply/-quality||Services/products for management of drinking water wells||Securing the availability and quality of existing drinking water resources|
|Gas supply||Multiple layer pipe system with a permeation barrier||Reduction of methane emissions and other greenhouse gases|
|Water storage||Infiltration ditches, cisterns||Rainwater collection and retention to mitigate heavy precipitation events|
|Cooling||Cooling systems/-conduits||Economic, corrosion-free and therefore sustainable piping systems|
|Pumped storage plant||Permanently tight and sustainable pipe systems||Welded pressure pipe systems for pumping water from a higher reservoir|
Dr. Ansgar Strumann
egeplast international GmbH
Phone: +49 2575 9710 221
Dr. Michael Stranz
egeplast international GmbH
Phone: +49 2575 9710 273