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Water Quality and Quantity Issues, News and Updates

Water, water everywhere --- and not a drop to drink...”

(from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Water – Quality & Quantity – A Very Hot Topic

Updated January 2011

Demand for water is projected to outstrip supply by a staggering 40 percent by 2030, and an estimated half the world’s population are likely to live in areas of high water stress by the same year”  -- so states  Paul Dickinson, Executive Chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project in the CDP Water Disclosure 2010  Global Report.   The situation is getting worse rather than getting better. The pressures of over-population, climate change and increased use per capita are all causing water stresses, although unevenly, throughout the globe. 

Current impacted areas in the news include the Southwestern and Southeastern regions of the United States; China; India; Ireland; the Middle East region; Australia; and many countries in Africa.  The threat has been recognized and throughout the globe and governments, corporations and activists groups are bringing the problem to the forefront and helping to craft and influence both short and long term solutions.

Since this section was first created in 1998, the editors have screened tens of thousands of articles and posted almost 1,000 stories, commentaries and reports. Water – quality and quantity is continuing to be a Hot Topic for AC readers.  As many pundits are saying…water is becoming the new carbon.


In 2006 the United Nations World Water Development Report described the state of water on our planet as a “crisis of governance.”  While the world appears to have enough fresh water supply today, the issue is one of governance, as in water distribution, management and quality control practices.  Water quality appears to be degrading in many areas, our monitoring tells us, and water quantity (supply) is a huge issue in many of the world’s regions.

Due to a number of factors -- mismanagement, limited area resources, and environmental changes, some caused by climate change -- almost one-fifth of the planet’s population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 per cent of the world’s population lacks access to basic sanitation. Access to water is further restricted by national and governmental entities that regulate where the water flows, who has access and for what purpose the water is used.  

Water is also used as an economic, health and environmental weapon by the “haves” over the “have-nots.” Governments “determine who gets what water, when and how, and decide who has the right to water and related services,” said the report authors.  Water availability is also related to a range of issues intimately connected to water, from health and food security to economic development, land use, and the preservation of the natural ecosystems on which the water resources depend.

Water quality is declining in most regions of the Earth.  Regional over- population, increased industrialization, absence of proper waste water treatment -- are all contributing to the emerging crisis. Poor water quality is a key cause of poor livelihood and health. An estimated 1.6 million lives (directly or indirectly connected to water quality issues and their related diseases) could be saved each year by providing more access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to the world’s poorest regions.

Access to water is not only a Third World or emerging nations’ issue -- droughts in the U.S. Southeast and quantity issues in the Southwest and in California have brought conservation, control and distribution issues to the public’s attention in the past few years.  Water in the United States is a key factor to residential and commercial development, economic stability and job growth – all issues which effect local and regional communities’ economic well-being. Water in the USA is critical to the health of agriculture and related industries.  Corporations are in the spotlight for their use of water – advocates and third party researchers are developing “water footprints” (similar to “carbon footprints”) for leading companies, such as Coca Cola, Nestle and other water-intensive industries and sectors.

The Editors of Accountability Central work to bring the many facets of Water issues -- especially quality and quantity -- into focus with news, commentary and research.  Education on the issues, public discussion and rising concern can help to bring about real and positive changes and sensible and fair solutions to the problems at hand.  Perhaps this public forum can help in some small way.  The Institute maintains a robust focus on water issues and the key players in its subscription Web-accessed knowledge management platform Sustainability HQ – click here for more

Latest on Water - Quality & Quantity

November 25, 2015 Fresh water crisis? Parched United Arab Emirates turns to desalinated seawater

Source: Mlive

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — As skyscrapers and gleaming towers rose with lightning speed across the United Arab Emirates over the past two decades, the Gulf nation's thirst for water grew at an enormous rate — so much so...

November 25, 2015 How the Gold King Mine spill continues to affect Navajo life

Los Angeles Times - Some communities reopened their gates to water from the river. Others, including one of the largest Navajo chapters (similar to a county), voted to keep their gates closed for at least a year to avoid...

November 24, 2015 Solutions to California's Water Crisis Have Already Been Implemented Abroad

Source: NBC Bay Area

A three-month-long investigation by NBC Bay Area found several solutions to manage California’s drought, even without more rainfall, but experts say it’s a matter of putting those technologies to good use and streamlining...

November 24, 2015 Food Wastage Means Water Wastage at the Same Time

Food World News - Ruth Mathews, executive director of the Water Footprint Network, an organization founded in 2008 to advance sustainable water use, said that it is important to be aware how things are and where these things are...

November 19, 2015 Colorado unveils plan to manage water amid drought, demand

Source: Salon

DENVER — The snow that falls on the Colorado mountains melts into trillions of gallons of water every year, and most of it flows downstream to Mexico, California and 17 other states. On Thursday, Colorado will release its...

November 17, 2015 Groundwater study: The tap could run dry

Source: USA Today

The amount of water above the Earths' surface — in oceans, lakes and rivers — has long been known. But the amount underneath the ground remained a mystery

November 13, 2015 Mexico City's water crisis – from source to sewer

Source: The Guardian

When a tormenta sweeps in to Mexico City, the rain does not just fall, it insists. Gently at first with a mid-afternoon patter on windows and windscreens, then more urgently with an evening downpour that turns splashes into...

November 13, 2015 Declining snowpack, water shortage projected in areas home to 2 billion: study

Source: Reuters

Large swathes of the northern hemisphere, home to some 2 billion people, could suffer increasing water shortages due to shrinking snowpacks, researchers said on Thursday.

November 12, 2015 New Study Says Sea Levels May Not Rise as Quickly as Predicted

Source: Morning Ticker

A number of studies done in the last year are predicting that sea levels will rise as much as 10 feet due in part to the rapid melting of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but a new study says the computer models overlooked...

November 11, 2015 El Niño, one of three strongest recorded, brings high drought risk for Australia

Source: TheGuardian

The El Niño in the Pacific is now one of the three strongest ever recorded. The Bureau of Meteorology said sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, a key driver of the climatic phenomenon, were 2.4C...

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