As we enjoy the luxury of merely having to turn a faucet to produce clean drinking water, it’s all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that water shortages only affect arid African nations and developing third world countries.
The truth is that water shortage is a global problem that needs to be addressed urgently. Even in rich countries that have a large amount of rain, such as the UK, one dry summer can lead to water rationing in order to prevent a national emergency.
Water scarcity occurs where there are insufficient water resources to satisfy long-term average requirements. It refers to long-term water imbalances, combining low water availability with a level of water demand exceeding the supply capacity of the natural system.
Although water scarcity often happens in areas with low rainfall, human activities add to the problems in particular in areas with high population density, tourist inflow, intensive agriculture and water demanding industries.
Here are some recent articles from around the world demonstrating just how close to home this crisis is hitting.
Seventeen rural communities in drought-stricken California are in danger of a severe water shortage within four months, according to a list compiled by state officials.
Wells are running dry or reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities. Others have long-running problems that predate the drought.
State officials are discussing solutions such as trucking in water and providing funding to drill more wells or connect rural water systems to other water systems
Full Article on: Huffington Post
Recently released data showed California on the verge of an epic drought, with its backup systems of groundwater reserves so run down that the losses could be picked up by satellites orbiting 400 km above the Earth’s surface.
The battle to provide water for Spain’s parched southern coast has generated major controversy in recent years.
A 4.2 billion euro plan to divert water from the River Ebro to supply the area around Valencia, Almeria and Murcia was abandoned by the incoming Socialist government in 2004.
Tens of thousands had protested against the project, which was criticised by environmentalists concerned that it would encourage misuse of water and that the Ebro’s fragile delta would suffer.
The new government plans to build several desalination plants instead to provide water for the near-desert region.
Source: BBC News
Australia is the continent with the least rainfall, apart from Antarctica.
Its two largest rivers, the Murray and the Darling, have been extensively dammed for power and irrigation, reducing flows to the sea by three-quarters – but providing three million people and 40% of Australia’s farms with water.
Salt rising to the surface as the lower reaches of the Murray dried out has destroyed prime agricultural land. Wetlands have shrunk, species numbers have dropped and the Australian National Trust has declared the whole river an “endangered area”.
Source: BBC News
China is undertaking two huge projects to tackle flooding in the south and drought in the north.
The Three Gorges Dam under construction on the Yangtze River aims to control flood waters and generate power.
The dam will provide 10% of the country’s electricity when finished. More than 600,000 have been moved to make way for a reservoir longer than Lake Michigan behind the $25bn dam.
In the north, all three rivers feeding China’s Northern Plain are severely polluted, damaging health and limiting irrigation.
The lower reaches of the Yellow River, which feeds China’s most important farming region, run dry for at least 200 days every year.
With 5% of the world’s population trying to survive on 1% of its water, there is strong competition for water in the Middle East.
A series of dry years – together with population growth – has recently increased the pressure. Both Israel and Jordan rely on the River Jordan – but Israel controls it and has cut supplies during times of scarcity.
Water-scarcity can be defined by the water exploitation index (WEI). Wei divides the total water abstraction by the long term annual average (LTAA) resource. The warning threshold, which distinguishes a non-stressed from a water scarce region, is around 20 %, with severe scarcity occurring where the WEI exceeds 40 %.
Nine European countries can be considered water-stressed: Cyprus, Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain, Malta, FYR Macedonia, Italy, UK, and Germany. In other words, 46% of the region’s population live in places which are water-stressed. Most of the countries with high WEI have high abstraction for irrigated agriculture, although some countries have high abstraction rates for cooling water particularly in Germany, the UK, Bulgaria and Belgium.
Source: European Environment Agency
Rajasthan’s wildlife parks
The death of at least 10 panthers in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary over last six months has again raised the problem of scarce water in Rajasthan’s wildlife parks and sanctuaries.
Rajasthan is one of the few states that can boast of two tiger projects, a bird sanctuary and 25 wildlife sanctuaries.
These protected areas offer great eco-tourism opportunities for both domestic and foreign tourists.