Tag Archive for 'water scarcity'

Vegas tries to kick its water addiction

“At first glance, it’s pretty easy to say Las Vegas has an unhealthy water fetish. There’s the 22-million-gallon Bellagio fountain, which rockets dancing cylinders of well water 500 feet into the air to the tune of “God Bless the USA.” There’s the liquid volcano at The Mirage, where water seems to bubble like lava. And, finally, the blue canals inside (inside!) the Venetian hotel, where water buoys gondolas for the amusement of gamblers and tourists.

“Keep in mind that this city is in the middle of the Mojave Desert, one of the hottest and driest places in the world.

“Step off reality-defiant Las Vegas Boulevard with its neon-soaked casinos and lavish “water features” and you’ll find a place that gets only 4 inches of rain in an average year — where the air is so dry that tourists keep lip balm and eye drops close at hand to avoid getting “lizard lips” and, generally, having all life-giving moisture vacuum-sucked right out of them. It’s a place where workers plant rocks instead of vegetation beside the roads, because you don’t have to water rocks, and water is one resource this manufactured oasis certainly doesn’t have in spades.

“Throw in a population boom, record drought, and climate change that scientists say will make such droughts more common in the future, and you’ve got the recipe for a water obsession that threatens Vegas’ very existence.”

Read more: CNN

“Hydro-diplomacy” needed to avert Arab water wars

Photo retrieved from: worldlearningnow.files.wordpress.com

“The United Nations should promote “hydro-diplomacy” to defuse any tensions over water in regions like the Middle East and North Africa where scarce supplies have the potential to spark future conflicts, experts said on Sunday.

“They said the U.N. Security Council should work out ways to bolster cooperation over water in shared lakes or rivers, from the Mekong to the Nile, that are likely to come under pressure from a rising world population and climate change.

“The Middle East and North Africa are the regions most at risk of conflict over scarce water supplies, they said, but history shows “water wars” are very rare.

“”We think that water is an issue that would be a appropriate for the U.N. Security Council,” Zafar Adeel, chair of UN-Water, told Reuters ahead of a meeting of experts in Canada this week to discuss water and security.

“U.N. studies project that 30 nations will be “water scarce” in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, with Libya and Egypt among those added to the 1990 list that includes Israel and Somalia.”

Read more: Reuters Africa

Rising Energy Demand Hits Water Scarcity ‘Choke Point’

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Meeting the growing demand for energy in the U.S., even through sustainable means, could entail greater threats to the environment, new research shows.

The study was carried out by Circle of Blue, a network of journalists and scientists dedicated to water sustainability, and could have implications not just for the relationship between energy demand and water scarcity in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world, as well. “It is not just that energy production could not occur without using vast amounts of water. It’s also that it’s occurring in the era of climate change, population growth and steadily increasing demand for energy,” explained Circle of Blue’s Keith Schneider, who presented the findings in Washington Wednesday.

“The result is that the competition for water at every stage of the mining, processing, production, shipping and use of energy is growing more fierce, more complex and much more difficult to resolve,” he said. About half the 410 billion gallons of water the U.S. withdraws daily goes to cooling thermoelectric power plants, and most of that to cooling coal-burning plants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Meanwhile, climate change is leading to decreased snowmelt, rains and freshwater supplies, says Circle of Blue.

One of the things missing from the discussion, then, is the recognition that saving energy also saves water, the group contends.”

Read more: AlterNet

Water Scarcity Facing 1/3 of US Counties

Counties shown in dark red are at greatest risk of water shortage by 2050. (Map courtesy Tetra Tech) Photo Retrieved from: AlterNet

“One out of three U.S. counties is facing a greater risk of water shortages by mid-century due to global warming, finds a new report by Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“For 412 of these counties the risk of water shortages will be “extremely high,” according to the report, a 14-fold increase from previous estimates.

“In the Great Plains and Southwest United States, water sustainability is at extreme risk finds the report, which is based on publicly available water use data from across the United States.

“This analysis shows climate change will take a serious toll on water supplies throughout the country in the coming decades, with over one out of three U.S. counties facing greater risks of water shortages,” said Dan Lashof, director of the Climate Center at NRDC. “Water shortages can strangle economic development and agricultural production and affected communities.”

“As a result,” he said, “cities and states will bear real and significant costs if Congress fails to take the steps necessary to slow down and reverse the warming trend.”

“The report, issued Tuesday, finds that 14 states face an extreme or high risk to water sustainability, or are likely to see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050. ”

read more: AlterNet

Water pollution expert derides UN sanitation claims

Safe drinking water

“In its latest report on the progress of the UN Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of people lacking access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, the World Health Organisation said that since 1990 1.3 billion people had gained access to improved drinking water and 500 million better sanitation. The world was on course to “meet or exceed” the water target, it said, but was likely to miss the sanitation goal by nearly 1 billion people.

“However, Prof Asit Biswas, who has advised national governments, six UN agencies and Nato, said official figures showing that many cities and countries had met their targets were “baloney”, and predicted that by the UN deadline of 2015 more people in the world would suffer from these problems than when the goals were first adopted.

“If somebody has a well in a town or village in the developing world and we put concrete around the well – nothing else – it becomes an ‘improved source of water’; the quality is the same but you have ‘improved’ the physical structure, which has no impact,” said Biswas. “They are not only underestimating the problem, they are giving the impression the problem is being solved. What I’m trying to say is that’s a bunch of baloney.”

“Barbara Frost, chief executive of the UK-based global charity WaterAid, said: “Here is a global catastrophe which kills more children than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined and which is holding back all development efforts including health and education.”

read more: The Guardian

UK relies on ‘virtual’ water from drought-prone countries, says report

Cut flowers from Kenya

“We must recognise how the UK’s water footprint is impacting on global water scarcity. We should ask whether it is right to import green beans – or even roses – from water-stressed countries like Kenya,” said professor Peter Guthrie, chair of the group of engineers who compiled the report. “The burgeoning demand for water from developed countries is putting severe pressure on areas that are already short of water. Our water footprint is critical”, he said.

“The report backs analysis by the UK chief scientist, John Beddington, the World Bank and others who say that water shortages are worsening, especially in developing countries. More than 700 million people in 43 countries are now regularly affected by water scarcity and this is expected to grow as a result of climate change, population growth, the switch to meat-based diets in countries such as China, rapid urbanisation in Asia and the pollution of rivers and lakes in many developing countries.”

read more: The Guardian

What’s the Single Biggest Misuse of Water in the US?

“Go to your tap and turn it on. Most likely, the second you turn the faucet handle, water gushes out. That alone might make you think there’s not a water crisis happening right now in America. Or at least that if there is, it’s not that bad. But you’d be wrong. In fact, from our infrastructure that wastes water supplies and doesn’t allow rainwater to soak back into the ground table, to our lack of measurement and management of our water use, we’re on a fast track to having very little drinkable water in the very near future. Author Robert Glennon addresses this very issue in his new book Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It. We asked Glennon his thoughts on some of the most pertinent issues facing us right now, and he provided some insight into what has to change, and how we can do it, so that we can ensure supplies of water for everything from human consumption to agriculture to manufacturing in the decades to come.

“We Americans are spoiled. Turn on the tap and out comes as much water as we want, for less than we pay for cell phone service or cable television. We must change this situation.

“We must recognize a human right to water for life’s necessities. The richest country in the history of the world can surely make that commitment to its citizens. Honoring that right does not involve a large quantity of water–only about 1% of the water that is used each day in the United States. For the other 99%, we need to encourage conservation and stewardship by pricing it appropriately: in general, the more you use the more you pay. Under this system, Americans, whether homeowners, farmers or industry would vote with their pocketbooks as to how they use water.”

read more: AlterNet

New Report for United Nations Assesses Business Water Accounting Methods


“Concerns about growing water scarcity, lack of access to water to meet basic human needs, degraded ecosystem function, and the implications of climate change have brought water to the forefront as a strategic concern for companies around the world. Corporate water accounting allows consumers, civil society groups, and the investment community to compare different companies’ social and environmental impacts in order to inform their actions and decision making.”

read more: Pacific Institute

Water: World Bank Report Recommends Ways to Improve Access to Clean Water

EthiopiaHaiti and Niger are facing the world’s worst water shortages, but 700 million people in 43 countries are under “water stress,” according to a new report released by the World Bank last month.

“Almost a third of all the bank’s projects in recent history have been water-related, and a total of $54 billion was spent financing them, the report said. Some, of course, have been controversial, since dams, irrigation projects, flood prevention and watershed-management projects often benefit one group at the expense of others. Also, many projects fail, once built, because the host country is not wealthy or sophisticated enough to maintain them.”

read more: New York Times

Analysis: World Water Day Promises Much, but We’ve Been Here Before

“The economics of improving water quality was a major theme during the program at World Water Day last week, so an economic maxim is appropriate to summarize the day: talk is cheap. Rather, more specifically, scripted talk is cheap.

“The key remark, as is often the case, was brief and direct, without the padding used in government-speak to hide meaning. Panel moderator Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, was posing a question about wastewater management.

“This is a simple problem,” Steiner said. “You either filter water before it is consumed, or treat it before discharging it.”

read more: Circle of Blue