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10 Critical Water Scarcity Facts We Must Not Ignore

10 Critical Water Scarcity Facts We Must Not Ignore

Why is water scarcity a legitimate concern?

It is true that the hydrologic cycle, the process in which the earth circulates water throughout its ecosystems, is a closed-loop cycle that neither adds nor takes away water. In theory, the amount of water on earth will always remain the same.

The problem therein is when the hydrologic cycle is disrupted and water which normally gets distributed to a certain area no longer does so. This is precisely why some regions are becoming arid while others are experiencing flooding and other natural disasters.

In this article, we’ll discuss the role that humans play in the global water crisis and we’ll cover the 10 most alarming water scarcity facts that we shouldn’t ignore.


The Alarming Human Factor in Water Management


Humans play a large role in the disruption of the hydrologic cycle.

  • The excessive building of dams prevents rivers from distributing mineral-rich water to areas that are dependent on the nutrients for plant growth.
  • Pollution caused by large factories can render freshwater sources such as lakes and rivers unusable.
  • The constant paving of roads seals the surface of the ground, preventing it from soaking up rainfall and replenishing the underground aquifers, a very vital part of the hydrologic cycle.
  • Excessive drilling into the ground can disrupt the structure of the bedrock, potentially allowing fresh groundwater to be contaminated with seawater.
  • Bottled water privatization creates a monopoly on a resource that should otherwise be available to the people who live in the region where the water is located.

As the world’s population increases the demand for the required amount of water necessary to sustain large communities does as well. While water is involved in the sustenance of virtually every aspect of a human’s life, the production of food makes up the majority of it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Water Wars Loom: UN Warns 5 Billion People Will Face Civilizational Threat By 2050

While residents of Cape Town, South Africa, brace for Day Zero (the day that the city of 4 million’s municipal water supply will be cut off for most households and businesses in order to preserve water after a severe drought that has emptied reservoirs), they are far from alone.

As MarketWatch’s Ciar Linnane notes, experts say this dystopian scene could be played out in other major cities in the coming years, as demand for water continues to increase with population growth and as climate change makes already-dry regions still dryer.

More than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies, according to a UN report on the state of the world’s water.

As The Guardian reports, the comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs.

Demand for water is projected to rise fastest in developing countries. Meanwhile, climate change will put an added stress on supplies because it will make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management. In doing so, it has often brushed aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the preface of the 100-page assessment.

“In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources.”

By 2050, the report predicts, between 4.8 billion and 5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today, while the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion, from 1.2 billion.

Water quality is also deteriorating.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The 11 Cities Most Likely To Run Out Of Drinking Water

As of Sunday afternoon, the dreaded “day zero” – the day residents of the city of Cape Town, South Africa, will need to begin queuing for drinking water after supplies sink below the threshold of sustainability – was estimated to be Nov. 11, 2018.

The shortage is the result of South Africa’s worst drought in 100 years…

And with city government efforts to secure alternative water supplies progressing slowly, Cape Town (pop. 440,000) is on track to become the first major world city to run out of water.

Hiring security forces to guard water supplies and forcing residents to ration their use must be unimaginably frustrating for the city’s government. But during a press conference late last month, Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, expressed another secondary annoyance that, in some ways, is even more profoundly disturbing.

A disaster that was until recently only imaginable by writers of dystopian science fiction is playing out in front of our eyes: And what’s worse: Nobody seems to care.

“We have reached the point of no return,” Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, warned this month. With anger in her voice she added: “It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care.”

But they should – if only because they’re city might be next:

As the BBC notes, over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress”.

Here’s a list of 11 other major cities where the taps may soon run dry, courtesy of the BBC.

Sao Paulo

Brazil’s financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who will drink the last glass of water in Cape Town?

Who will drink the last glass of water in Cape Town?

Because Cape Town sits between picturesque beaches and mountains, it is a favored travel destination. And, its weather during the summer is described as “almost too perfect.” That’s in part because it rains very little in the summer in this second most populous city in South Africa.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Trouble is, starting in 2015 the rainy season never arrived. One year, then two years and now three years of extreme drought have brought the city’s water supplies almost to exhaustion. Barring extraordinary rains or even more draconian cutbacks in water usage than have already occurred, Cape Town officials say they will have to turn off water to most household taps and businesses sometime in April. They’re calling it “Day Zero.” Hospitals and essential public facilities will be exempt. Most residents would have to line up at designated water supply stations for a daily allocation of 25 liters.

Cape Town’s current troubles were not necessarily foreseeable in the usual sense. Yearly long-range weather forecasts raised no alarmswhen they were released since they did not predict an extreme drought for that year.

The causes of the city’s water problems are, in fact, multiple. First, Cape Town’s population has risen 80 percent since 1994 (the end of white rule) to 3.75 million people putting extraordinary demands on its water system. Second, average rainfall has been gradually decreasing for decades and has reached its lowest since 1933. Comparable records before that are not available. One calculation cited in the above linked article is that the current drought is the worst in more than 300 years. Another calculation suggests the multi-year drought is a once-in-a-millennium event. Third, climate change is almost certainly increasing the likelihood of such a drought though there is no way to prove the link to this particular drought.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hell On Earth: Major City Will RUN OUT Of Water In Less Than 95 Days

Hell On Earth: Major City Will RUN OUT Of Water In Less Than 95 Days

earthquake drought natural disaster

If you’ve ever needed a reason to store extra food and water, this just might be it.  Cape Town, South Africa is on schedule to run out of water in less than 95 days, and when they do, the government will turn off the taps.

“There are only 95 days left before we reach Day Zero,” the City of Cape Town announced on January 15 in a statement. “Day Zero has moved a day closer this week to April 21, 2018. Day Zero is when the City will be forced to turn off most of the taps.”

The coastal South African city has been battling droughts for nearly three years, amounting to the worst one in their history. With little rain on the horizon, the city has now ordered its 3.7 million residents to drastically cut their water consumption, take short stop-start showers, not wash their cars, and flush toilets as little as possible. If they don’t, all of their taps could be shut off by the government in April.

The city doesn’t appear to have any plan in place for such a SHTF event. But if the government cannot find a solution to the problem, Capetonians will be forced into “bread lines” for water. As if that isn’t scary enough, city residents will have a limit of 5.5 gallons of water a day that will only be given to them at specific government outposts around the city.

Cape Town’s mayor Patricia de Lille‏ tweeted: “I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 liters [19 gallons] per day… We must avoid Day Zero and saving water is the only way we can do this.” Not missing the opportunity to levy extra taxes on the populace, the city mayor has also impeded a “drought charge” in order to fund new water projects, such as constructing desalination plants.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Better water use can cut global food gap

Better water use can cut global food gap

CROP--Irrigation_system

An irrigation system on a pumpkin patch in a semi-arid area of New Mexico in southwestern US.
Image: Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists say that forecasts of a world food shortage need not prove as disastrous as previously thought if humans learn to use water more effectively.

LONDON, 16 February, 2016 – Although growing human numbers, climate change and other crises threaten the world‘s ability to feed itself, researchers believe that if we used water more sensibly that would go a long way towards closing the global food gap.

Politicians and experts have simply underestimated what better water use can do to save millions of people from starvation, they say.

For the first time, scientists have assessed the global potential for growing more food with the same amount of water. They found that production could rise by 40%, simply by optimising rain use and careful irrigation. That is half the increase the UN says is needed to eradicate world hunger by mid-century.

The lead author of the study, Jonas Jägermeyr, an Earth system analyst at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research(PIK), says the potential yields from good water management have not been taken fully into account.

Climate resilience

Already parched areas, he says, have the most potential for increases in yield, especially water-scarce regions in China, Australia, the western US, Mexico and South Africa.

“It turns out that crop water management is a largely under-rated approach to reducing undernourishment and increasing the climate resilience of smallholders,” he says.

In theory, the gains could be massive, but the authors acknowledge that getting local people to adopt best practice remains a challenge.

They have been careful to limit their estimates to existing croplands, and not to include additional water resources. But they have taken into account a number of very different water management options, from low-tech solutions for smallholders to the industrial scale.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Modelling Tools for Dealing with Environmental Complexity

Modelling Tools for Dealing with Environmental Complexity

Modelling Tools for Dealing with Environmental Complexity

In many regions of the world, managing water demand without damaging the local ecosystem is a challenge. For instance, in regions suffering from water scarcity, extensive agricultural fields are often established along the coast. Water for irrigation is partly taken from groundwater and partly from surface water originating in nearby mountainous regions. The local water supply is, however, not only used for agricultural purposes, but also serves as a source of drinking water for the local population.

Around the globe, populations are increasing due to better health care and improved living conditions. However, more people need more water, more food and more energy. The high and diverse demand for water, combined with an insufficient supply, often causes considerable water use conflicts.

Local authorities of such regions might seek to mitigate conflict by pumping larger amounts of water from the aquifer for irrigation. But this may set off a chain of unforeseen consequences as it can affect the water balance by, for example, reducing the amount of available water in surrounding areas. In coastal regions, this causes saltwater to intrude into the aquifer. The saltwater intrusion leads to salinisation of the agricultural soils and renders the groundwater no longer potable.

Thus the initial conflict extends from a water quantity to a water quality management problem. The soil becomes unsuitable for traditional crops, in turn leading to socio-economic consequences such as farmers losing income due to unproductive land or people needing to migrate to regions with better soil fertility.

irrigation dryland

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The California Water Shortage: A Case for Aesthetic Ecosystem and Ecological Design

The California Water Shortage: A Case for Aesthetic Ecosystem and Ecological Design

California reservoir drought

A reservoir showing the effect of drought conditions in California

In recent news, there has been significant coverage of California’s struggle with its below average precipitation in the past several years.  Yes, they call it a drought.

Governor Jerry Brown and California State Water Resources Control Board have come forward with restrictions on water use, primarily in urban and suburban areas.

People are ripping up lawns.

Landscape designers are drooling (not too much) over the opportunity to redesign so many areas for better water conservation.  Many are replacing lawns with cookie-cutter designed ‘xeriscapes’ or ‘desertscapes’ such as this one.

Urbanites are pitted against agrarians saying the other is more responsible.

One recent interview on NPR highlights cemetery caretakers wondering “if cemeteries, particularly for veterans, shouldn’t play by different rules than, say, a suburban lawn”?

And now, there’s a struggle between allowing salmon to spawn and the ability of Bay area residents to drink water that doesn’t taste funky.

This is where I follow up with saying, ‘The end is near!’

OK so perhaps I’m making light of the situation a bit.  This is a serious situation.  But we have gotten ourselves into this mess.  We have been deliberately diminishing our water resources in the western US for a long time.

It’s just that the thought of water scarcity is a bit more evident now.

The good news?  We’ve gotten ourselves into this mess, and we can get ourselves out.  But it won’t be easy and it won’t be painless.  Those in California are already beginning to feel the pain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

New age of water wars portends ‘bleak future’

New age of water wars portends ‘bleak future’

Behind the escalating violence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as the epidemic of civil unrest across the wider region, is a growing shortage of water.

New peer-reviewed research published by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) shows that water scarcity linked to climate change is now a global problem playing a direct role in aggravating major conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

Numerous cities in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia are facing “short and declining water supplies per capita,” which is impacting “worldwide” on food production, urban shortages, and even power generation.

In this month’s issue of the Journal of the AWWA, US water management expert Roger Patrick assesses the state of the scientific literature on water scarcity in all the world’s main regions, finding that local water shortages are now having “more globalised impacts”.

He highlights the examples of “political instability in the Middle East and the potential for the same in other countries” as illustrating the increasing “global interconnectedness” of water scarcity at local and regional levels.

In 2012, a US intelligence report based on a classified National Intelligence Estimate on water security, commissioned by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, concluded that after 2022, droughts, floods and freshwater depletion would increase the likelihood of water being used as a weapon or war, or a tool of terrorism.

The new study in the Journal of the AWWA, however, shows that the US intelligence community is still playing catch-up with facts on the ground. Countries like Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where US counter-terrorism operations are in full swing, are right now facing accelerating instability from terrorism due to the destabilising impacts of unprecedented water shortages.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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