Water - A scare resource

Water - A scare resource

Water makes up approximately 70% of our body. Strangely, it is a similar number for our planet. I guess there is symmetry in nature.

But are we running out of water? 

Climate change has been a hot topic for some time now. A recent report I read suggested that discussions about climate change, or at least climate variance, date back to the 17th century.

However, in my limited understanding, climate change had always been about carbon emissions. Not about water or water shortage. 

I had the good fortune to live in California. There were permanent signs of drought. Increasingly, I am hearing of the same thing in Europe. 

So I went and looked at the data. At the beginning of the last century, we were using 500 billion cubic meters of water. Today, we use 4 trillion. An eightfold increase. With population increasing, this will only go up.

Rapid urbanization and better living conditions will accelerate this trend. Freshwater withdrawals already vary wildly, with the United States having the highest per capita. 

Many countries are showing a close to 80% reduction in the rate of availability of fresh water per capita. Qatar (99%), Israel (76%), and India (67%), to name a few. 

Each morning, when I turn on the tap to shower, brush, or shave, I am not thinking of water scarcity. It is hard to think scarcity when you see water flowing so freely into the basin. 

It is only when you look at a broader set of facts that you can fathom that we may actually be running out of water.

Look around; we waste a lot of water. 

You might ask, what does this have to do with your health? 

If water shortages increase, as it seems likely, there are only two paths forward. Water will get more expensive, and water will be scarce.

Imagine living in a hot country and being able to bathe only once a week because there is no water. 

Reach out to me on twitter @rbawri Instagram @riteshbawriofficial and YouTube at www.youtube.com/breatheagain

In case anyone wants to read, here are some additional resources

Water Use and Stress
How much water do we use? How did it change over time?
Country-level and gridded estimates of wastewater production, collection, treatment and reuse
Abstract. Continually improving and affordable wastewater management provides opportunities for both pollution reduction and clean water supply augmentation, while simultaneously promoting sustainable development and supporting the transition to a circular economy. This study aims to provide the first comprehensive and consistent global outlook on the state of domestic and manufacturing wastewater production, collection, treatment and reuse. We use a data-driven approach, collating, cross-examining and standardising country-level wastewater data from online data resources. Where unavailable, data are estimated using multiple linear regression. Country-level wastewater data are subsequently downscaled and validated at 5 arcmin (∼10 km) resolution. This study estimates global wastewater production at 359.4×109 m3 yr−1, of which 63 % (225.6×109 m3 yr−1) is collected and 52 % (188.1×109 m3 yr−1) is treated. By extension, we estimate that 48 % of global wastewater production is released to the environment untreated, which is substantially lower than previous estimates of ∼80 %. An estimated 40.7×109 m3 yr−1 of treated wastewater is intentionally reused. Substantial differences in per capita wastewater production, collection and treatment are observed across different geographic regions and by level of economic development. For example, just over 16 % of the global population in high-income countries produces 41 % of global wastewater. Treated-wastewater reuse is particularly substantial in the Middle East and North Africa (15 %) and western Europe (16 %), while comprising just 5.8 % and 5.7 % of the global population, respectively. Our database serves as a reference for understanding the global wastewater status and for identifying hotspots where untreated wastewater is released to the environment, which are found particularly in South and Southeast Asia. Importantly, our results also serve as a baseline for evaluating progress towards many policy goals that are both directly and indirectly connected to wastewater management. Our spatially explicit results available at 5 arcmin resolution are well suited for supporting more detailed hydrological analyses such as water quality modelling and large-scale water resource assessments and can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.918731 (Jones et al., 2020).

PS: Thanks Marge for correcting my article and your valuable feedback