Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Water Resources and Scarcity



  • Of all water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water, and of the remaining 3 per cent fresh water, some 70 per cent is frozen in the polar icecaps. The other 30 per cent is mostly present as soil moisture or lies in underground aquifers. (U.S. Geological Survey, 2009)
  • Less than 1 per cent of the world’s fresh water is readily accessible for direct human uses. (U.S. Geological Survey, 2009)
  • The global volume of stored groundwater is poorly known; estimates range from 15.3 to 60 million km3. (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012)
  • Around 20 per cent of total water used globally is from groundwater sources (renewable or not), and this share is rising rapidly, particularly in dry areas. (Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, 2007)
  • Global aggregated groundwater use: Irrigation 67 per cent, Industry 11 per cent, Domestic use 22 per cent. (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012)
  • The world’s water crisis is not related to the physical availability of water, but to unbalanced power relations, poverty and related inequalities. (UNDP: Human Development Report, 2006)
  • Water scarcity can roughly be divided into two categories: “Apparent” scarcity exists when there is plenty of water, but is inefficiently and wastefully used; “real” scarcity is caused by insufficient rain-fall or large populations depending on a limited resource. (SIWI: On the Verge of a New Water Scarcity, 2007)
  • A nation’s water foot print is defined as the total volume of freshwater, both green and blue, that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the people of the nation, i.e. both food and other goods and services. (UNESCO-IHE: A Quantification of Virtual Water Flows Between Nations in Relation to International Crop Trade, 2002)
  • The 10 largest water users (in volume) are India, China, the United States, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico and the Russian Federation. (3rd UN World Water Development Report, 2009)
  • With rapid population growth, water withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years. (3rd UN World Water Development Report, 2009). Water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 per cent by 2025 in developing countries, and by 18 per cent in developed countries. (UNEP: Global Environment Outlook Report GEO-4, 2007)
  • Humans are over-consuming natural resources at an unsustainable rate. Around 3.5 planet Earths would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American. (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012)
  • A child born in the developed world consumes 30 to 50 times as much water as one in the developing world. (1st UN World Water Development Report, 2003)
  • According to UNDESA, the world population is predicted to grow from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 8.3 billion in 2030 and to 9.1 billion in 2050. At the same time, urban populations are projected to increase by 2.9 billion, to 6.3 billion in total 2050. (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012)
  • An estimated 90 per centof the people expected to be added to the population by 2050 will be in developing countries, many in regions already in water stress where the current population does not have sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. (3rd UN World Water Development Report, 2009)
  • In 2030, 47 per cent of world population will be living in areas of high water stress. (OECD: OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030, 2008)
  • As the urban population increases rapidly, many major cities have had to draw freshwater from increasingly distant watersheds, as local surface and groundwater sources no longer meet the demand for water, or as they become depleted or polluted. (2nd UN World Water Development Report, 2006)
  • Over 80 per cent of wastewater worldwide is not collected or treated, and urban settlements are the main source of pollution. (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012)