Water Stress
"Water gives life to everything, including human development and human freedom"

An area officially suffers from water stress when annual supplies drop below 1,700 cubic meters per person.

Water use has been growing much faster than the population for at least a century and that trend continues. During the last three hundred years, the population has quadrupled, while water use has multiplied by seven.

However, while global demand for water rose dramatically in the twentieth century, agriculture still uses most of it. In developing countries, agriculture still accounts for over 80% of water consumption.

In other words, food production requires an amount of water that is approximately 70 times greater than the amount that people use for domestic purposes.

In 2025 there will be nearly 8 billion people in the world, and the proportion of this amount that corresponds to the developing world will increase from 79% to 82%.

The combined effects of population growth and a continuing increase in demand, both dependent on a fixed supply of water resources generate water stress on an unprecedented scale.

The main challenges for water governance in attempting to realign water use with demand at levels that maintain the integrity of the environment:

  • Develop a national strategy.
  • Reduction of perverse subsidies and reconsider a fixed price for water.
  • Make polluters pay.
  • Valuation of ecological services.
  • Regulation of underground water extraction.

For oil-rich countries and relatively wealthy cities near the sea, desalination could be a promising source of water for domestic consumption. The potential to address the problems of poor cities in low-income countries is more limited, and it is unlikely that desalination will solve the fundamental imbalance between supply and demand for water.

Another option is the treatment of sewage so that it can be returned safely to rivers, to be used for irrigation or industry.

What is the best way to meet human needs while simultaneously accommodating the ecological requirements of healthy water supply systems?

How can we reduce the large and unacceptable gap between the people who have water and those who don't?

Beyond 2012, a series of ambitious and well-defined goals are needed in order to provide a clear path for the market to follow as well as a framework for national governments, industries, and households to take action upon.

Copyright © 2012 Water, the New Petrol Team
CEP Santa Rosa Marist Brothers - Sullana (Peru) and IES Manacor - Mallorca (Spain)
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