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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

August 25, 2015 The Intersection of Water, Energy and Climate

Source: Huff Post

This week, global experts gather in Stockholm for World Water Week amidst a backdrop of water-related crises worldwide. The U.S. state of California is experiencing a record-breaking four-year drought. Brazil and South Africa...

August 24, 2015 Graphic: Irish Water crisis will soon be lapping at all parties’ doors

Source: Irish Examiner

THE coalition is drowning in Irish Water problems right now. But those opposition lifeboats supposedly coming to rescue us all have more than a few holes in them as well.

August 20, 2015 Officials: Extreme Cyanide Levels in Waters Near China Blast

Source: VOA

Cyanide levels more than 350 times the acceptable limit have been found in waters close to the site of recent deadly explosions in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials said Thursday.

August 19, 2015 California's Drought Will Cost The State $2.74 Billion This Year, Report Finds

Source: Huffington Post

SACRAMENTO - California's ongoing drought will cost the economy in the most populous U.S. state an estimated $2.74 billion in 2015 and lead to the loss of 10,000 seasonal farm jobs, despite overall health in the state's...

August 18, 2015 Cuba on edge as drought worsens

Source: Reuters

Cuba put its civil defense system on alert on Monday due to a year-long drought that is forecast to worsen in the coming months and has already damaged agriculture and left more than a million people relying on trucked-in water.

August 17, 2015 Now, a book to purify drinking water

Source: Business Standard

In a breakthrough discovery, researchers at the University of Virginia's Center for Global Health have developed 'The Drinkable Book', which is a nanotechnology-based method to purify drinking water and can eliminate water-borne...

August 17, 2015 Drought's silver lining: Attracting investors to sustainability

Source: GreenBiz

Earlier this summer, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced mandatory water restrictions that renewed concerns about water availability in California and the potential economic impacts of the restrictions.

August 14, 2015 EPA chief: Colorado river hit by mine waste back to pre-spill quality

Source: Reuters

The water quality of a southwestern Colorado river rendered bright orange by toxic waste spewed from an abandoned gold mine one week ago has returned to pre-spill levels, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief said on...

August 14, 2015 This Year’s El Niño Could Be the Strongest Ever Recorded

Source: Time

The world could be headed for one of the strongest El Niños in recorded history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday. A strong El Niño event would disrupt weather patterns across the globe,...

August 12, 2015 13 states ask judge to delay new federal water rule

Source: Contra Costa Times

BISMARCK, N.D. — Thirteen states led by North Dakota asked a federal judge on Monday to delay a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

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