Sustainability is expressed as meeting present environmental, social, and economic needs without compromising these factors for future generations A practice cannot be said to be 'sustainable for X years/generations.' The use of any span of time disqualifies the activity. Sustainability is for perpetuity.
Sustainability also means greater efficiency in resource use, ultimately giving benefits to economic growth and overcoming poverty, as well as health and quality of life.
Sustainable design and sustainable development are critical factors to sustainable living. Sustainable design encompasses the development of appropriate technology, which is a staple of sustainable living practices. Sustainable development in turn is the use of these technologies in infrastructure. Sustainable architecture (see Green building) and agriculture are the most common examples of this practice.
. Water power can be harnessed in many ways; tidal flows can be utilized to produce power by building a barrage across an estuary and releasing water in a controlled manner through a turbine; large dams hold water which can be used to provide large quantities of electricity; wave power is also harnessed in various ways. It is a technology that has been utilized throughout the world, by a diverse range of societies and cultures, for many centuries. Water can be harnessed on a large or a small scale. Micro-hydro power is the small-scale harnessing of energy from falling water; for example, harnessing enough water from a local river to power a small factory or village. This fact sheet will concentrate mainly at micro-hydro power.
In the UK, water mills are known to have been in use 900 years ago. Their numbers grew steadily and by the 19th century, there were over 20,000 in operation in England alone. In Europe, Asia and parts of Africa, water wheels were used to drive a variety of industrial machinery, such as mills and pumps. The first effective water turbines appeared in the mid 19th century and it was not long before they were replacing water wheels in many applications. In contrast to water wheels and the early turbines, modern turbines are compact, highly efficient and capable of turning at very high speed. Hydropower is a well-proven technology, relying on a non-polluting, renewable and indigenous resource, which can integrate easily with irrigation and water supply projects.
A rainwater catchment system set up by Isla Urbana with the Huicholes in Mexico.