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Understanding The Global Supply Of Water

Understanding The Global Supply Of Water

As the world’s population and its agricultural needs have grown, so too has the demand for water, putting the world’s supply of water under the microscope.

A century ago, freshwater consumption was six times lower than in modern times. This increase in demand and usage has resulted in rising stress on freshwater resources and further depletion of reservoirs.

Visual Capitalist’s Freny Fernandez introduces this graphic by Chesca Kirkland – using insights from Our World in Data – to break down water supply and also withdrawals per capita. The latter measures the quantity of water taken from both groundwater and freshwater sources for agricultural, industrial, or domestic use.

How Much Water Do We Have?

Many people know that more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. That’s 326 million trillion gallons of water, yet humanity still faces a tight supply. Why is that?

It’s because 97% of this water is saline and unfit for consumption. Of the remaining 3% of freshwater, about two-thirds are locked away in the form of snow, glaciers, and polar ice caps. Meanwhile, just under a third of freshwater is found in fast-depleting groundwater resources.

That leaves just 1% of global freshwater as “easily” sourced supply from rainfall as well as freshwater reservoirs including rivers and lakes.

Per Capita Water Withdrawals

Any look at a world map of rivers and lakes will reveal that fresh water distribution is highly uneven across different regions of the world.

Yet developed and developing countries alike require a lot of water for both commercial and personal use. Agriculture use alone accounts for an estimated 70% of the world’s available freshwater.

Below we can see how water withdrawals per capita have grown over the past decades, using the latest available data from each.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Many toxic water incidents are HIDDEN from the public, so take a sip at your own risk

Image: Many toxic water incidents are HIDDEN from the public, so take a sip at your own risk

(Natural News) If you assume your tap water must be safe to drink because you haven’t heard otherwise, you could be gambling with your health.

Seven years ago, the American Society for Civil Engineers issued a warning that most of the country’s drinking water infrastructure was “nearing the end of its useful life.” Not much has been done since then to resolve the problem, and now it is emerging that many toxic water incidents are hidden from the public.

The Office of Inspector General criticized the EPA and various U.S. water utilities in a 2019 report for failing to consistently and accurately report drinking water risks. According to the OIG’s investigation, there are a series of problems that could be putting public health at risk from contaminated drinking water supplies.

For example, they found that some of the agencies responsible for enforcing water regulations have not been consistent in enforcing public notice requirements. Many have not been reporting and tracking violations, nor have they been consistently issuing public notices. Because the EPA’s oversight protocols don’t cover all of the public notice requirements, some agencies can’t be sure whether the public water systems in their purview are notifying consumers of safety violations.

They also say the public water systems do not have accurate guidance related to the tools currently available for issuing public notices and could be missing out on chances to inform people effectively of problems with their drinking water. On top of that, the public notice guidance that the EPA gives to public water systems and primary agencies is outdated and does not reflect the current regulations.

Lead contamination is rampant

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

Barrels, Buckets, and Bottles: Adventures in Low-Water Living

Barrels, Buckets, and Bottles: Adventures in Low-Water Living

water barrels / Public Domain / pxhere

Water is invisible to most people in developed countries.

We turn on the tap, and there it is.  It’s provided free in restaurants, without our even asking for it.

We can spend money to buy water in bottles, but in America at least, we’re never far from a water fountain.

There have been revelations recently of lead or other contaminants in water supplies, but still the concept of a universal “water supply” is rarely questioned.

Water for Granted

This easy access to water is not the case in many places on earth and was almost never the case in the past.  And it’s looking like it will not be the case in the future, as sea-level rise threatens fresh water supplies, energy resources are depleted, political systems lack the will or ability to maintain infrastructure, and climate change creates unpredictable rainfall and temperature patterns around the globe.

If our water systems collapse, or if we decide to simplify voluntarily, individuals and households may be surprised at the lifestyle changes that will be necessary.  What we own, how we use it, and even our domestic architecture will be affected.

This was something I had to learn during two years without running water in Liberia and seven years with erratic running water in Kyrgyzstan.  I offer my experiences in living without reliable water sources not because I’m the expert.

There are millions of people around the world who have managed their whole lives on a tiny fraction of the water we consider necessary.  But perhaps I can describe to you what living with unpredictable water is like and make it less daunting.

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

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Preface. The Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast, already 30% has been lost since 1975.

Adding to the crisis are the 400 dams under construction or planned for Himalayan rivers in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan to generate electricity and for water storage.  The dams’ reservoirs and transmission lines will destroy biodiversity, thousands of houses, towns, villages, fields, 660 square miles of forests, and even parts of the highest highway of the world, the Karakoram highway. The dam projects are at risk of collapse from earthquakes in this seismically active region and of breach from flood bursts from glacial lakes upstream. Dams also threaten to intensify flooding downstream during intense downpours when reservoirs overflow (IR 2008, Amrith 2018).

Since the water flows to 16 nations, clearly these dams could cause turmoil and even war if river flows are cut off from downstream countries.  Three of these nations, India, Pakistan, and China, have nuclear weapons.

It’s already happening. After a terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian police officers in Kashmir, Indiadecided to retaliate by cutting off some river water that continues on to Pakistan, “adding an extra source of conflict between two nuclear-armed neighbors”. Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world with seriously depleted underground aquifers and less storage behind their two largest dams due to silt (Johnson 2019).


Wu, K. 2019. Declassified spy images show Earth’s ‘Third Pole’ is melting fast.  Accelerating ice melt in the Himalayas may imperil up to a billion people in South Asia who rely on glacier runoff for drinking water and more. PBS.org

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

U.S. Groundwater in Peril: Potable Supply Less Than Thought

A groundwater well near Estancia, New Mexico. (Photo: Debra Perrone)

A groundwater well near Estancia, New Mexico. (Photo: Debra Perrone)

U.S. Groundwater in Peril: Potable Supply Less Than Thought

Drilling deeper wells may not be a good long-term solution to compensate for increasing demands on groundwater, report UA hydrologist Jennifer McIntosh and colleagues.

The U.S. groundwater supply is smaller than originally thought, according to a new research study that includes a University of Arizona hydrologist.

The study provides important insights into the depths of underground fresh and brackish water in some of the most prominent sedimentary basins across the U.S.

The research by scientists from the University of Saskatchewan, the UA and the University of California, Santa Barbara was published Nov. 14 in Environmental Research Letters.

“We found that potable groundwater supplies in the U.S. do not go as deep as previously reported, meaning there is less groundwater for human and agricultural uses,” said Jennifer McIntosh, a University of Arizona Distinguished Scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.

Drilling deeper wells may not be a good long-term solution to compensate for increasing demands on groundwater.

“We show that there is potential for contamination of deep fresh and brackish water in areas where the oil and gas industry injects wastewaters into – or in close depth proximity to – these aquifers,” McIntosh said. “These potable water supplies are already being used up from the ‘bottom up’ by oil and gas activities.

“Groundwater is the primary source of domestic water supply for about half of the people living in the U.S. About 40 percent of all of the water used in the U.S. for irrigated agriculture comes from groundwater,” McIntosh said. “In Tucson, Arizona, about half of our drinking water comes from groundwater.”

Many rural areas in Arizona and other parts of the U.S. rely exclusively on groundwater for both agricultural and domestic use, she said.

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

Seawalls for oil refineries and other ironies of climate change adaptation

Seawalls for oil refineries and other ironies of climate change adaptation

A friend of mine includes a saying with each of his emails that goes like this: “It shouldn’t be easier to imagine the end of civilization than the end of air conditioning.” But in most depictions of the end of civilization at the cinema these days, the air conditioning (or heat, if it is winter) is going full blast until the very moment of civilization’s demise.

What he is alluding to, of course, is that we can’t imagine ourselves giving up much of anything even in the face of the biggest man-made threat to human survival ever, namely, climate change. To make sure that we don’t have to, the oil industry is championing a plan that will use federal money to build a seawall along the Texas coast in order to protect—you guessed it—oil refineries, a large number of which are located near the water’s edge.

It will protect a lot of other stuff as well. But the irony is not lost on the reporter of the linked piece who in droll understatement writes: “But the idea of taxpayers around the country paying to protect refineries worth billions, and in a state where top politicians still dispute climate change’s validity, doesn’t sit well with some.”

Elsewhere, efficient use of water, especially in agriculture, is deemed wise policy as water demand rises and water supply becomes more uncertain in the face of climate change. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states the following on its website:

Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an era of increasingly limited and more costly water supplies.

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

Canada Covering Up Global Warming Nuts Destroying the Water Supply

COMMENT:  When Government turns on its own citizens.
Good day, Martin;

This climate change movement here in Ontario, Canada has gone too far. Construction of windmills in a small farming area has contaminated 16 residential water wells with that destroyed the pumps and piping that feed water to farms rendering property values to almost nothing.

Driving piles into the shale bedrock beneath the sandy soil for the foundation of windmills has disturbed the water sources. The Ministry of the environment has denied the water has been contaminated therefore avoiding an easy fix to install new systems that can easily purify the water. Instead, they will spend upwards of $50 to $100 million in legal battles to sway scientific study and avoid admittance of stupidity.

It’s like a farmer’s Flint Michigan for Canada. The ministry of environment has come out and claimed there is nothing wrong with the water. The citizens formed a group called “Water Wells First” and have been sidelined and lied to. Anyone with any sense could have figured out that if wind and solar electricity production costs are 30 to 80 cents per kilowatt-hour and sold to the public for 12 cents, the difference will be paid by the tax-payer anyway to the tune of hundreds of $millions over 20 years.

Government is contaminated when they protect their own failures and fail to protect the basic property rights of the people.

Thank you;


REPLY: Governments are the worst evil in human society. Whenever they make a mistake, they will NEVER admit it. This is standard procedure in absolutely every department and it is universal infecting all governments worldwide. This is the political nature behind the curtain. Take the Refugee Crisis in Europe. Instead of admitting a mistake, they threaten all governments to take in a portion to lessen their own exposure.

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

River Supplying Water To Alberta Oil Sands Operations At Risk From Drought

A new study casts doubt on the long-term ability of the Athabasca River to supply the water Alberta’s oil sands industry relies on.

Water is allocated to oil sands operations based on river flow data collected since the 1950s, but that doesn’t necessarily represent an accurate assessment of the Athabasca River’s flow variability over the longer term, according to a report published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Development of Alberta’s oil sands, the world’s third-largest crude oil reserve at an estimated 168 billion barrels, uses a lot of fresh water — more than 3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced. Currently, the oil sands industry is allocated 4.4% of the mean annual flow of the Athabasca River to meet that demand. In 2010, the oil and gas industry accounted for 74.5 percent of total surface water allocations in the Athabasca River Basin, the report says.

That allocation takes into account seasonal fluctuation, but not long-term climatic variability and change, the authors of the report write — even though the region has a history of droughts and future droughts are likely, suggesting the industry’s water use might be unsustainable.

Syncrude’s Mildred Lake oil sands operation in Alberta, Canada. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Researchers from the University of Regina and the University of Western Ontario, both in Canada, analyzed the measured river flow record for the Athabasca River Basin while accounting for the effects of climate oscillations that can confound attempts to spot long-term trends, like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Pacific North American mode and El Niño.

Their analysis revealed declining flows throughout the river basin, which is consistent with the record of regional warming and the resulting loss of glacier ice and snowpack at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains, the origin of much of the Athabasca’s water.

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

Why the Colorado River Basin Crisis is No Surprise

Why the Colorado River Basin Crisis is No Surprise

They Were Warned 70 Years Ago and Still Haven’t Acted

Perhaps you have heard how urgent it is for the upper basin states to take water from the Colorado River before those “Californians use it all up?” This us-versus-them attitude, as a justification to take more water from a finite system, will obviously not solve the regional water predicament. Later on, I will explain that scientists from California demonstrated early leadership to create equitable water solutions for everybody.

California’s surface and groundwater allotment from the Colorado River Basin is limited to 4.4 million acre-feet per year and 70 percent of this water is used to grow food and fiber in the Imperial and Coachella Irrigation Districts, which is largely exported. However, it might surprise you to know that the state of Arizona uses as much surface water from the Colorado River system, and if you include the water that Arizona consumes from the water supply underneath the Colorado River Basin, then it exceeds California’s consumption by about 3.5 million acre-feet per year.

Here is the inventory of Arizona’s surface water: The estimated natural flow of the Gila River through Arizona is about 1.8 million acre-feet. The state of New Mexico will use a portion of this surface water, but Arizona consumes the lion’s share and the river bed is dry long before it ever reaches the Colorado River. This includes the flow of the Little Colorado River in Arizona, which is 138,000 acre-feet. Again, New Mexico will use a portion of this water supply and Arizona dominates the rest.

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

Leaking Las Vegas: Lake Mead Water Levels Continue To Crash

Leaking Las Vegas: Lake Mead Water Levels Continue To Crash

The last time we looked at Las Vegas water supply, the comments from professionals were “Vegas is screwed,” and unless water levels in Lake Mead rise by 7%, “it’s as bad as you can imagine.” The bad news… Water levels in Lake Mead have never been lower for this time of year – and this is before the Summer heat seasonal plunge takes effect.

We noted previously, as with many things in Sin City, the apparently endless supply of water is an illusion.

America’s most decadent destination has been engaged in a potentially catastrophic gamble with nature and now, 14 years into a devastating drought, it is on the verge of losing it all.

“The situation is as bad as you can imagine,” said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.”

And things haven’t improved at all…

Source: The Burning Platform

Which as we concluded previously, is a grave concern:


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

Not A Drop To Drink: The American Water Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC]

Not A Drop To Drink: The American Water Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC]

Almost a year ago, we had talked about how we are potentially on the path to global Peak Water. Today’s infographic elaborates more on the problem on a national basis in the United States.

Right now, the average American consumes about 100 gallons of water per day both directly and indirectly. This is a problem of conservation and efficiency as much as it is supply, as the aging water infrastructure had its last upgrade during the Reagan era.

H/T Visual Capitalist



Source: Last Call at The Oasis via Visual Capitalist


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