The most cost-effective way of decoupling water use from economic growth, according to the scientific panel, is for governments to create holistic water management plans that take into account the entire water cycle: from source to distribution, economic use, treatment , recycling , reuse and return to the environment.
Linking Climate Change and Groundwater
The total amount of easily accessible freshwater on Earth, in the form of surface water rivers and lakes or groundwater in aquifers , for example , is Of this total amount, 'just' 5. Hence, in theory, there is more than enough freshwater available to meet the demands of the current world population of more than 7 billion people, and even support population growth to 9 billion or more. Due to the unequal geographical distribution and especially the unequal consumption of water, however, it is a scarce resource in some parts of the world and for some parts of the population.
People in developed countries generally use about 10 times more water daily than those in developing countries. Because many of these production chains have been globalised, a lot of water in developing countries is being used and polluted in order to produce goods destined for consumption in developed countries. Physical water scarcity results from inadequate natural water resources to supply a region's demand, and economic water scarcity results from poor management of the sufficient available water resources.
According to the United Nations Development Programme , the latter is found more often to be the cause of countries or regions experiencing water scarcity, as most countries or regions have enough water to meet household, industrial, agricultural, and environmental needs, but lack the means to provide it in an accessible manner. It also occurs where water seems abundant but where resources are over-committed, such as when there is over development of hydraulic infrastructure for irrigation.
Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater as well as other forms of exploitation or overuse. Economic water scarcity is caused by a lack of investment in infrastructure or technology to draw water from rivers, aquifers or other water sources, or insufficient human capacity to satisfy the demand for water. One quarter of the world's population is affected by economic water scarcity.
Economic water scarcity includes a lack of infrastructure, causing the people without reliable access to water to have to travel long distances to fetch water, that is often contaminated from rivers for domestic and agricultural uses. Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity; developing water infrastructure in those areas could therefore help to reduce poverty.
Critical conditions often arise for economically poor and politically weak communities living in already dry environment. Consumption increases with GDP per capita in most developed countries the average amount is around — litres daily. In underdeveloped countries e. African countries such as Mozambique , average daily water consumption per capita was below 10 L. Increased water consumption is correlated with increasing income, as measured by GDP per capita.
In countries suffering from water shortages water is the subject of speculation. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights established a foundation of five core attributes for water security. They declare that the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use. At the Millennium Summit , the United Nations addressed the effects of economic water scarcity by making increased access to safe drinking water an international development goal.
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During this time, they drafted the Millennium Development Goals and all UN members agreed on eight goals. MDG 7 sets a target for reducing the proportion of the population without sustainable safe drinking water access by half by This would mean that more than million people would gain access to a safe source of drinking water. Water scarcity has many negative impacts on the environment, including lakes, rivers, wetlands and other fresh water resources.
The resulting water overuse that is related to water scarcity, often located in areas of irrigation agriculture, harms the environment in several ways including increased salinity , nutrient pollution , and the loss of floodplains and wetlands. Through the last hundred years, more than half of the Earth's wetlands have been destroyed and have disappeared. Freshwater lakes such as the Aral Sea in central Asia have also suffered.
Once the fourth largest freshwater lake, it has lost more than 58, square km of area and vastly increased in salt concentration over the span of three decades. Subsidence, or the gradual sinking of landforms, is another result of water scarcity. The U. Geological Survey estimates that subsidence has affected more than 17, square miles in 45 U. In some areas east of Houston, Texas the land has dropped by more than nine feet due to subsidence.
Aquifer drawdown or overdrafting and the pumping of fossil water increases the total amount of water within the hydrosphere subject to transpiration and evaporation processes, thereby causing accretion in water vapour and cloud cover, the primary absorbers of infrared radiation in the earth's atmosphere. Adding water to the system has a forcing effect on the whole earth system, an accurate estimate of which hydrogeological fact is yet to be quantified. Apart from the conventional surface water sources of freshwater such as rivers and lakes, other resources of freshwater such as groundwater and glaciers have become more developed sources of freshwater, becoming the main source of clean water.
Groundwater is water that has pooled below the surface of the Earth and can provide a usable quantity of water through springs or wells. These areas where groundwater is collected are also known as aquifers. Glaciers provide freshwater in the form meltwater , or freshwater melted from snow or ice, that supply streams or springs as temperatures rise. More and more of these sources are being drawn upon as conventional sources' usability decreases due to factors such as pollution or disappearance due to climate changes.
Human population growth is a significant contributing factor in the increasing use of these types of water resources. Until recent history, groundwater was not a highly utilized resource. In the s, more and more groundwater aquifers developed. Changes in knowledge, technology and funding have allowed for focused development into abstracting water from groundwater resources away from surface water resources.
These changes allowed for progress in society such as the "agricultural groundwater revolution", expanding the irrigation sector allowing for increased food production and development in rural areas. Although groundwater sources are quite prevalent, one major area of concern is the renewal rate or recharge rate of some groundwater sources. Extracting from groundwater sources that are non-renewable could lead to exhaustion if not properly monitored and managed. Reduction of natural outflows, decreasing stored volumes, declining water levels and water degradation are commonly observed in groundwater systems.
Human pollution is also harmful to this important resource. To set up a big plant near a water abundant area, bottled water companies need to extract groundwater from a source at a rate more than the replenishment rate leading to the persistent decline in the groundwater levels. The groundwater is taken out, bottled, and then shipped all over the country or world and this water never goes back. When the water table depletes beyond a critical limit, bottling companies just move from that area leaving a grave water scarcity.
Groundwater depletion impacts everyone and everything in the area that uses the water: farmers, businesses, animals, ecosystems, tourism and other users e. Millions of gallons of water out of the ground leaves the water table depleted uniformly and not just in that area because the water table is connected across the landmass. Bottling Plants generate water scarcity and impact ecological balance. They lead to water stressed areas which bring in droughts. Glaciers are noted as a vital water source due to their contribution to stream flow.
Rising global temperatures have noticeable effects on the rate at which glaciers melt, causing glaciers in general to shrink worldwide. Increased meltwater due to rising global temperatures can also have negative effects such as flooding of lakes and dams and catastrophic results. Hydrologists today typically assess water scarcity by looking at the population-water equation. This is done by comparing the amount of total available water resources per year to the population of a country or region.
A popular approach to measuring water scarcity has been to rank countries according to the amount of annual water resources available per person. For example, according to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator,  a country or region is said to experience "water stress" when annual water supplies drop below 1, cubic metres per person per year. At levels between 1, and 1, cubic metres per person per year, periodic or limited water shortages can be expected.
When water supplies drop below 1, cubic metres per person per year, the country faces "water scarcity". Other ways of measuring water scarcity include examining the physical existence of water in nature, comparing nations with lower or higher volumes of water available for use. This method often fails to capture the accessibility of the water resource to the population that may need it.
Others have related water availability to population. Another measurement, calculated as part of a wider assessment of water management in ,  aimed to relate water availability to how the resource was actually used. It therefore divided water scarcity into 'physical' and 'economic'. Physical water scarcity is where there is not enough water to meet all demands, including that needed for ecosystems to function effectively. Arid regions frequently suffer from physical water scarcity. It also occurs where water seems abundant but where resources are over-committed, such as when there is overdevelopment of hydraulic infrastructure for irrigation.
Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater.
Declining agriculture, industrial investment risks and subsiding cities
Water stress harms living things because every organism needs water to live. Renewable freshwater supply is a metric often used in conjunction when evaluating water scarcity. This metric is informative because it can describe the total available water resource each country contains. By knowing the total available water source, an idea can be gained about whether a country is prone to experiencing physical water scarcity.
This metric has its faults in that it is an average; precipitation delivers water unevenly across the planet each year and annual renewable water resources vary from year to year. This metric also does not describe the accessibility of water to individuals, households, industries, or the government. Lastly, as this metric is a description of a whole country, it does not accurately portray whether a country is experiencing water scarcity.
Canada and Brazil both have very high levels of available water supply, but still experience various water related problems. It can be observed that tropical countries in Asia and Africa have low availability of freshwater resources. The following table displays the average annual renewable freshwater supply by country including both surface-water and groundwater supplies. The United Nations UN estimates that, of 1. More than one in every six people in the world is water stressed, meaning that they do not have sufficient access to potable water.
According to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator,  a country or region is said to experience "water stress" when annual water supplies drop below 1, cubic metres per person per year. At levels between 1, and 1, cubic meters per person per year, periodic or limited water shortages can be expected.
When a country is below 1, cubic meters per person per year, the country then faces water scarcity. In , about million people in 43 countries were living below the 1, cubic metres per person threshold. Much of the water stressed population currently live in river basins where the usage of water resources greatly exceed the renewal of the water source.
Another popular opinion is that the amount of available freshwater is decreasing because of climate change. Climate change has caused receding glaciers, reduced stream and river flow, and shrinking lakes and ponds.
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Many aquifers have been over-pumped and are not recharging quickly. Although the total fresh water supply is not used up, much has become polluted, salted, unsuitable or otherwise unavailable for drinking, industry and agriculture. To avoid a global water crisis, farmers will have to strive to increase productivity to meet growing demands for food, while industry and cities find ways to use water more efficiently.
The findings published in the Journal of Climate say that the water shortages resulted from population size more than rainfall. The researchers concluded with a statement saying that any rainfall comes from complicated internal processes in the atmosphere and are very hard to predict because of the large amount of variables. When there is not enough potable water for a given population, the threat of a water crisis is realized.
Waterborne diseases caused by lack of sanitation and hygiene are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. For children under age five, waterborne diseases are a leading cause of death. According to the World Bank , 88 percent of all waterborne diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Water is the underlying tenuous balance of safe water supply, but controllable factors such as the management and distribution of the water supply itself contribute to further scarcity. A United Nations report focuses on issues of governance as the core of the water crisis, saying "There is enough water for everyone" and "Water insufficiency is often due to mismanagement, corruption, lack of appropriate institutions, bureaucratic inertia and a shortage of investment in both human capacity and physical infrastructure".
It has also been claimed, primarily by economists, that the water situation has occurred because of a lack of property rights , government regulations and subsidies in the water sector, causing prices to be too low and consumption too high, making a point for water privatization. Vegetation and wildlife are fundamentally dependent upon adequate freshwater resources.
Marshes , bogs and riparian zones are more obviously dependent upon sustainable water supply, but forests and other upland ecosystems are equally at risk of significant productivity changes as water availability is diminished. In the case of wetlands, considerable area has been simply taken from wildlife use to feed and house the expanding human population. But other areas have suffered reduced productivity from gradual diminishing of freshwater inflow, as upstream sources are diverted for human use.
HydroOffice | Surface- and Groundwater Quality Changes in Periods of Water Scarcity
In seven states of the U. In Europe extensive loss of wetlands has also occurred with resulting loss of biodiversity. For example, many bogs in Scotland have been developed or diminished through human population expansion. One example is the Portlethen Moss in Aberdeenshire. On Madagascar 's highland plateau, a massive transformation occurred that eliminated virtually all the heavily forested vegetation in the period to The slash and burn agriculture eliminated about ten percent of the total country's native biomass and converted it to a barren wasteland. These effects were from overpopulation and the necessity to feed poor indigenous peoples, but the adverse effects included widespread gully erosion that in turn produced heavily silted rivers that "run red" decades after the deforestation.
This eliminated a large amount of usable fresh water and also destroyed much of the riverine ecosystems of several large west-flowing rivers. Several fish species have been driven to the edge of extinction and some, such as the disturbed Tokios coral reef formations in the Indian Ocean , are effectively lost. There are many other countries of the world that are severely impacted with regard to human health and inadequate drinking water. The following is a partial list of some of the countries with significant populations numerical population of affected population listed whose only consumption is of contaminated water: .
Several world maps showing various aspects of the problem can be found in this graph article. Water deficits, which are already spurring heavy grain imports in numerous smaller countries, may soon do the same in larger countries, such as China and India. Other countries affected include Pakistan , Iran , and Mexico. This will eventually lead to water scarcity and cutbacks in grain harvest. Even with the overpumping of its aquifers , China is developing a grain deficit. When this happens, it will almost certainly drive grain prices upward. Most of the 3 billion people projected to be added worldwide by mid-century will be born in countries already experiencing water shortages.
Unless population growth can be slowed quickly, it is feared that there may not be a practical non-violent or humane solution to the emerging world water shortage. After China and India, there is a second tier of smaller countries with large water deficits — Algeria , Egypt , Iran , Mexico, and Pakistan. According to a UN climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of Asia 's biggest rivers — Ganges , Indus , Brahmaputra , Yangtze , Mekong , Salween and Yellow — could disappear by as temperatures rise. In India alone, the Ganges provides water for drinking and farming for more than million people.
By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid lands commonly known as the outback. In June it became known that an expert panel had warned of long term, possibly irreversible, severe ecological damage for the whole Murray-Darling basin if it does not receive sufficient water by October. Another city facing a water crisis is Cape Town, South Africa.
The government and scientists in the area were preparing for "day zero", meaning that the area was almost completely out of water. The government was hopeful that voluntary conservation efforts and environmental factors would increase the water supply in the reservoirs, but these things did not happen which increased the likelihood of the city running out of potable water.
Scientists at the University of Cape Town are concerned because without a water source they are not able to conduct valuable medical research or clinical studies. Corporations pose a significant threat to clean and affordable water. Onondaga Lake , the most polluted lake in America, is an example of how threatening corporations can be.
During the late s, people began building near the lake for the beautiful scenery and natural water it provided. As the area began to develop, a sewage treatment plant was built as well as multiple industrial chemical plants.
This practice continued for years until the lake was closed to swimming in and closed to fishing in Construction of wastewater treatment plants and reduction of groundwater overdrafting appear to be obvious solutions to the worldwide problem; however, a deeper look reveals more fundamental issues in play. Wastewater treatment is highly capital intensive , restricting access to this technology in some regions; furthermore the rapid increase in population of many countries makes this a race that is difficult to win.
As if those factors are not daunting enough, one must consider the enormous costs and skill sets involved to maintain wastewater treatment plants even if they are successfully developed. Reducing groundwater overdrafting is usually politically unpopular, and can have major economic impacts on farmers. In case of water shortage, property owners should assess all available information before determining the best course of action.
All Ontario residents need an adequate water supply that is available at a constant and dependable rate. There are two principal water sources: groundwater, which includes wells and springs; and surface water, which includes natural and manufactured lakes, rivers and streams. When a well is to be built, an examination of all available water well and hydrogeological records is necessary to determine the most suitable groundwater source.
Regulation under the Ontario Water Resources Act prescribes the minimum construction requirements for the water well industry in Ontario and outlines the roles and responsibilities required of licensed well contractors and well technicians including private well owners in supporting the regulation. With respect to all activities related to the proper construction of wells, it is recommended that you consult a licensed well contractor. Before finalizing a contract with a well contractor, make sure that he or she has a valid licence issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, will construct the well in full compliance with Regulation Wells , maintains sufficient insurance, and the well technicians hold a valid licence with the proper prescribed class es for the work involved.
It is also highly recommended that you select a well contractor who can provide reference checks with previous clients in your area, and is willing to sign a written contract. Groundwater is formed when rain or other precipitation infiltrates the soil and moves down until it reaches the point of saturation.
Water fills in the porous spaces between grain particles and fractures in rock. The upper surface of the zone of saturation is called the water table. The depth of the water table depends on the nature of geological materials, the season and the slope of the ground. The water table level varies from less than a metre below the surface to more than 50 metres. In the zone of saturation, any geological material or formation that is capable of yielding water to wells in usable quantities is called an aquifer. Aquifers may be found in the bedrock as well as in the overburden overlying the bedrock.
In the overburden, aquifers consist of materials such as sand and gravel. A coarse saturated gravel formation makes a good aquifer, while a very fine sand and silt formation is indicative of a poorer aquifer that yields water slowly. Aquifers vary in thickness and size. Some may be able to meet the water needs of only a few households, while others can supply entire communities with water. Water shortages can be caused by a number of different things, including human activities, increased usage and climatic conditions.
Often, water shortages are the result of too little precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more. Other climatic factors such as higher than normal temperatures, high winds and low humidity can exacerbate the situation. In periods of water shortage, water levels in shallow wells can have large fluctuations due to climatic conditions. Ground water levels are usually highest during April, as a result of precipitation, and then gradually decline until late September or October.
Shallow wells are most vulnerable in dry weather conditions. In extreme cases, water tables will drop below the bottom of the well, resulting in complete loss of water supply.
The following questions and answers have been prepared to help well owners assess their ground water systems. A well must always be visible to ensure easy access if remedial work to the pump, or other emergency work, must be done immediately. You should determine the exact location of the well if you do not already know where it is. This will help when you need to replace any pumping or other equipment. It is advisable to have the casing raised to a minimum height of 40 cm above the ground surface. Regular water level measurements and records will help you analyze any future problems.
Record this information, and keep it near your pressure system for quick access. Adding water to your well is not recommended. It could contaminate your supply, and will not alleviate your water shortage problems during drought conditions. If you have added any water of unknown quality, or suspect the quality of the water in your well, you should have the water tested immediately to make sure it is safe to drink. You can increase pump size for increased water supply, but it is essential that the pump should not exceed the maximum safe pumping capacity of the well or the specific height to which the pump must raise water.
If your pump is the correct size, and operating properly, replacing it with one that is too large may cause severe damage to the well. This is particularly true in small diameter drilled wells. Putting a pump with increased pumping capacity into a large-diameter dug or bored well will not provide more water. It will only provide the same amount of water at a faster rate, and your water supply will remain unchanged.
By knowing the exact depth of your well, as well as the depth of the pump intake, you can maximize the performance of your well. You should keep a record of this important information near your pressure system. You may find that your pump intake is located too far above the bottom of the well. Lowering it will provide more draw down during pumping, providing more available water.
Note: The pump intake should not be lowered to the very bottom of the well. If this is the first time you have experienced a water shortage you should check your pump and pressure system for mechanical failure. You should also check your water level, and start keeping a record of water levels in your well. If you have experienced water shortages in the past, try to remember if they happened during local or regional dry conditions.
Previous owners may have experienced water shortages or problems with their existing well s , and replaced or added to their supply of wells. If your well was reported to the ministry, you can get a copy of the record from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. A search fee applies to all requests. Once you have the records for a well, note the information on its construction, the static water level at the time of construction, the specific capacity of the well and the pump setting depth.
Then note any changes that have occurred since it was built. The information contained in your record may serve as good baseline information in the assessment of your site specific conditions. You should have your pump and pressure system checked regularly by a licensed well contractor, and repaired if necessary, to ensure they are not the source of your water shortage problem.
The age and condition of your pump and pressure system may directly affect the supply of water from your well. It is advisable to also check your distribution system water lines for leaks, clogging, etc. Water shortages are sometimes a direct result of increased water usage. When a well is built there is a calculated maximum safe yield that it can produce. Pump and pressure systems are selected to match the specific capabilities of the well. If water demand increases, and exceeds the maximum safe yield of the well, problems are likely, including water shortages. But first make sure that:.
Remedial work such as the replacement of a pump, changes to the pump setting depth or to the diameter of the well liner installations , or well rehabilitation screen work - can have an effect on your water supply. You may want to check with your licensed well contractor to establish whether any water yield changes could be expected as a result of the work.
Development in the vicinity of your well, such as paving or building construction, could affect the ground surface around your well the ability of the ground to absorb water may be impaired. If you need to build a second or replacement well you should review water well records and other hydrogeological information for your area.
This will give you essential information such as depth to water pumping test data and static water levels, which in turn will help you determine the type of well you should build. In some circumstances making your existing well deeper can provide more water. You may find additional groundwater and also provide additional draw down. However, caution should be exercised if the area is known to have poor quality natural water at depths lower than high quality fresh water.
If this is the case, deepening the well and penetrating a formation with poor quality water may cause contamination to the freshwater formation. This could make your well unusable and cause wider contamination of a previously high quality aquifer, as well as have long term impacts on other wells in the area.
Well owners are obliged to maintain all wells on their properties. If a well is not being properly maintained, the well owner must have it plugged and sealed in accordance with Regulation Secure caps and lids must be maintained on the top of any well which is not plugged. If you are unsure of the condition of the well cap or lid, have it inspected by a licensed well contractor and replaced or upgraded if necessary.
This is to help protect and preserve ground water resources and minimize safety risks.