Solving the Global Water Crisis Moves Beyond the Technical Feasibility Stage

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Solving the Global Water Crisis Moves Beyond the Technical Feasibility Stage

It's a commodity many of us take for granted. Turn on the spigot and we have an unending flow of inexpensive water. The fact is, the worldwide supply of fresh water is more than adequate for any foreseeable global population demands.

At issue is the distribution of that water, because it suffers from a chronic imbalance. Although it is virtually free in many places in the U.S., some areas, such as Southern California, do not have enough water to go around. Likewise, in the Mideast, as well as in parts of China and India, there's definitely a water shortage. As a result, a billion people can't reliably find enough potable water on any given day, which does not bode well for a future when water demands will rise.

Charting Our Water Future

Charting Our Water Future

Today, the world's human population uses 4.5 trillion cubic meters of water a year. By 2030, that usage is expected to rise to almost 7 trillion cubic meters a day, which is 40 percent above the amount of clean water that is currently accessible, reliable, and environmentally sustainable.

  • Globally, more than 70 percent of all fresh water used goes for irrigating crops.
  • Another 16 percent is used by industry.
  • The remaining 14 percent is put to domestic uses, such as drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing clothes.

Part of the solution will be improving the efficiency of use in these three areas. For example, new strains of crops, as well as new types of drip and soaking technology, combined with improved drainage and no-till farming, can improve the use of water in agriculture.

But greater efficiencies, although a start, by themselves will not solve the problem. Unfortunately, too many people in both business and government don't truly understand the issue and therefore think the problem is either exaggerated or unsolvable.

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For example, The World Resources Institute predicts that, "By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water-scarce countries or regions, with alarming implications for human well-being and global security."1 For this prediction to come true, one needs to discount the promise of ingenuity. But what's more disturbing about the Institute's position is that it lays the blame of water shortage at the feet of developed nations for what they believe to be an overuse of water...

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