What is Water Scarcity? – Causes, Effect & Prevention

What is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity can be defined as a lack of sufficient water, or not having access to safe water supplies. Water is a pressing need in many areas of the world. That scarcity is spreading as water is needed to grow and process food, create energy and serve the industry for a continually growing population.

Water covers 70% of our planet and it is easy to believe that it will always be plentiful. However, the fresh water we use to drink, bathe and irrigate our fields is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is hidden in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.

As a result, around 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion people experience water scarcity for at least one month each year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people exposed to diseases such as cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases. Two million people, mostly children, die of diarrhea every year alone.

Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems alive and feed a growing human population are stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to be used. More than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared.

Agriculture uses more water than any other source and wastes much of it through inefficiencies. Climate change is changing weather and water patterns around the world, causing bottlenecks and droughts in some areas and flooding in others.

At the current rate of consumption, this situation will only get worse. Two thirds of the world’s population could suffer from water scarcity by 2025. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.

Water scarcity | Water depilation

Causes of Water Scarcity

Following are some of the major causes of water shortage:

  • Climate change
  • Natural calamities such as droughts and floods
  • Increased human consumption
  • Overuse and wastage of water
  • A global rise in freshwater demand
  • Overuse of aquifers and its consequent slow recharge.

The human population has successfully used many of the world’s natural waterways to build dams, water wells, huge irrigation systems, and other structures that have allowed civilizations to grow and prosper. But the water systems are becoming increasingly stressed and some rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up.

1. Pollutions:

Water pollution comes from many sources, including pesticides and fertilizers washed away from farms, untreated human wastewater, and industrial waste. Even the groundwater is not protected from pollution, as many pollutants can find their way into underground aquifers.

Some effects are immediate, such as when harmful bacteria from human waste contaminate the water, making it unsuitable for drinking or swimming. In other cases, e.g. For example, toxic substances from industrial processes can take years to accumulate in the environment and in the food chain before they are fully recognized.

2. Agriculture:

Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s freshwater, but around 60% of it is wasted through leaky irrigation systems, inefficient application methods, and growing crops that are too thirsty for the environment in which they are grown.

This wasteful use of water is drying up rivers, lakes and aquifers. Many countries that produce large amounts of food, including India, China, Australia, Spain, and the United States, have reached or are about to reach their water resource limits.

In addition to these thirsty plants, agriculture causes significant freshwater pollution from both fertilizers and pesticides, which affect both humans and other species.

3. Population Growth:

In the past 50 years the human population has more than doubled. This rapid growth with the accompanying economic development and industrialization has changed the water ecosystems around the world and has led to a massive loss of biodiversity.

Today, 41% of the world’s population lives in river basins that are under underwater stress. Concerns about the availability of water are growing as freshwater use continues at unsustainable levels. In addition, these new faces also need food, shelter, and clothing, which puts additional pressure on freshwater from the production of raw materials and energy.

4. Climate Change:

As humans continue to pump more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, patterns of weather and water will change around the world. Droughts will become more common in some places, floods in others.

Glaciers and snowpacks will disappear in some areas, affecting the freshwater supplies to those downstream communities. These changes will combine to make less water available for agriculture, energy generation, cities, and ecosystems around the world.

Effect of Water Scarcity

Groundwater depletion may result in many negative effects such as increased cost of groundwater pumping, induced salinity and other water quality changes, land subsidence, degraded springs and reduced baseflows. Human pollution is also harmful to this important resource.

1. Disappearing Wetlands:

About half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900. Some of the most productive habitats on the planet, wetlands support high concentrations of animals including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates and serve as nurseries for many of these species.

Wetlands also support the cultivation of rice, a staple in the diet of half the world’s population. And they provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.

2. Damaged Ecosystems

When water becomes scarce, natural landscapes often lose out. The Aral Sea in central Asia was once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake. But in only three decades, the sea has lost an area the size of Lake Michigan.

It is now as salty as an ocean due to the excessive pollution and the diversion of water for irrigation and power generation. As the sea has retracted, it has left polluted land. This ecological catastrophe has created food shortages and resulted in a rise in infant mortality and a decrease in life expectancy for the nearby population.

3. Billions of people lack water

Clean freshwater is an essential ingredient for a healthy human life, but 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion experience water scarcity at least one month a year. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be facing water shortages.

When waters run dry, people can’t get enough to drink, wash, or feed crops, and economic decline may occur. In addition, inadequate sanitation a problem for 2.4 billion people can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.

The solution of Water Scarcity

The Solar Impulse Label is granted to innovative water scarcity solutions that meet high standards of sustainability and profitability.

Each solution goes through a strict assessment process performed by independent experts.

1. Sustainable water management

Improving water infrastructure must be a priority, as water conservation and efficiency are key components of sustainable water management. Solar desalination and smart irrigation systems are great examples of clean technology for water efficiency and control. That obviously applies even more to the agriculture and farming sector – the largest consumer of water.

2. Reclaimed water

Rainwater harvesting and recycled wastewater also allow to reduce scarcity and ease pressures on groundwater and other natural water bodies. Groundwater recharge, which allows water to move from surface water to groundwater, is a well-known process to prevent water scarcity.

3. Pollution control & better sewage treatment

Without proper sanitation, the water becomes full of diseases and unsafe to drink. That is why addressing pollution, measuring and monitoring water quality is essential. Besides, improving the sewage systems in specific areas is another way to prevent water scarcity from becoming any worse.

4. Awareness & Education

Education is critical to solving the water crisis. In fact, in order to cope with future water scarcity, it is necessary to radically reform all forms of consumption, from individual use to the supply chains of large companies.

FAQ

1. What is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity can be defined as a lack of sufficient water, or not having access to safe water supplies. Water is a pressing need in many areas of the world. That scarcity is spreading as water is needed to grow and process food, create energy and serve the industry for a continually growing population.

What are the cuses of water scarcity?

Following are the major causes of water scarcity:

1. Climate change
2. Natural calamities such as droughts and floods
3. Increased human consumption
4. Overuse and wastage of water
5. A global rise in freshwater demand
6. Overuse of aquifers and its consequent slow recharge.

3. What are the effect of water Scarcity?

Groundwater depletion may result in many negative effects such as increased cost of groundwater pumping, induced salinity and other water quality changes, land subsidence, degraded springs and reduced baseflows. Human pollution is also harmful to this important resource.

Scroll to Top