Water Treatment Plant Aerial View - Ivan Bandura
© Ivan Bandura, Via Unsplash

Water is one of the most precious resources on the planet and an element of life. Unfortunately, only 0.5% of the world’s water is available as freshwater, and the world continues to struggle with the availability of clean water. Water treatment is one way to increase access to potable water. Traditional water treatment and distribution methods are resource-intensive, energy-consuming, and environmentally harmful.

Sustainable water treatment has recently seen much innovation and research. In this article, we will discuss some of the latest innovations in sustainable water treatment and their environmental impact. 

1. Advances in Membrane Technology 

Membrane technology has been used for decades in water treatment, but recent advances in this field have made it more efficient and cost-effective. Unlike chemical or carbon filtration systems, which use chemicals to attack or target contaminants in water, membrane technology deploys the principle of Reverse Osmosis (RO). This procedure pushes water through a membrane bioreactor for wastewater treatment. These are semi-permeable membranes, highly effective at removing impurities, salts, minerals, and organic matter, making them an excellent choice for wastewater treatment systems. 

Recent advances have retrieved compact designs using both membrane filtration and active sludge systems ideal for remote and small communities and industrial and commercial applications. 

2. Green Infrastructure 

Green infrastructure is an approach to water management designed to protect, restore or mimic the natural water cycle. It promotes using natural systems such as wetlands, forests, and rain gardens to filter and treat water. 

Green infrastructure solutions are being implemented on various scales, from houses or building levels to the broader landscape level. These practices include permeable pavements, tree boxes, rain gardens, vertical gardens, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting systems. Green infrastructure also involves preserving and restoring natural landscapes, including forests, wetlands, and floodplains.

3. IoT and Smart Water Networks 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming many industries, including water treatment. The use of IoT in wastewater treatment comprises three distinct approaches. The first is connecting datasets to the network to create an enterprise asset management system to gather data based on performance and reliability, operational efficiencies, water quality, pollutants, and sensing systems. For example, sensors can detect water leaks in pipes, allowing engineers to repair damages before significant water loss. 

Detection of hazardous chemicals and immediately putting measures into effect automatically is another one of its feats. The third approach uses intelligent water networks that optimize energy use by adjusting the speed of pumps and valves to match demands. 

Sustainable Water Treatment in Developing Countries 

Access to clean water is challenging in many developing countries, where traditional water treatments may be too hectic or expensive. In such areas, solar-powered water treatment systems, Solar Water Disinfection, can provide clean drinking water without consuming electricity. 

In this process, water bottles are exposed directly to sunlight, which kills pathogens by UV radiation. Another idea is the use of ceramic and bio-sand filters. These filters are easy to construct and maintain and use a layer of gravel and sand to filter contaminants from drinking water. 


Water is essential to life, yet, one in four people doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. From advances in membrane technology to using green infrastructure and intelligent water networks, these innovations can transform how we use and distribute water. By prioritizing sustainability in water treatment, we can ensure that future generations have access to clean, safe, and affordable water.