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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

February 4, 2016 Bottled water is ‘the new gold’ in drought-hit Harare

Source: Reuters

Harare has developed a huge appetite for bottled water. An estimated 300,000 litres change hands daily in this city of just over 1.6 million inhabitants, with Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, saying that imports...

February 4, 2016 Water expert blames DEQ ‘cover-up’ for Flint crisis

Source: Detroit News

The engineering professor who helped uncover the contamination of Flint’s water told Congress Wednesday that primary blame lies with a few state environmental officials who “misled” Michigan leaders and residents and tried to...

February 3, 2016 Rising sea levels will impact these properties

Yahoo News - Annapolis already floods easily. Between 1957 and 1963, Annapolis saw 3.8 days of nuisance flooding. Between 2007 and 2013, it increased to 39.3 days. By 2045, flooding will happen 360 times a year, according to the...

February 3, 2016 Sierra snowpack jumps to 130 percent of average

Source: Sacramento Bee

A year ago, it was the driest January on record across much of California. This year looks, well, average – even a little better than average.

February 2, 2016 EPA Fracking Study Faulted by Science Panel Citing Failed Wells

Source: Bloomberg Bsiness

Science advisers reviewing the EPA study said Monday the agency’s description isn’t good enough. During a six-hour teleconference, the Science Advisory Board review panel parsed the language, zeroing in on the phrase as too vague...

February 2, 2016 Drowning in danger: Worldwide water crisis deemed biggest global risk

Source: Daily News

The situation is no less complicated or critical today, with California reevaluating its water policies and structures as a result of pervasive drought; with the mega-city Sao Paulo, Brazil, reacting to a failed municipal water...

February 1, 2016 A Cheap Cure for Flint? Scientists Tout New Fix for Tainted Water

Source: NBC News

If you're going to announce a potentially groundbreaking method of clearing lead and other contaminants from drinking water, this is a good time. Swiss scientist Raffaele Mezzenga did just that this past week, publishing the...

January 29, 2016 California to release more reservoir water thanks to El Niño storms

Source: SF Gate

California officials offered some good news Tuesday amid the throes of the continuing drought, announcing they’ll probably have a little more water to release from the state’s mountain-fed reservoirs this year because of wet...

January 28, 2016 Few Answers on When Flint Will Have Clean Water Again

Source: NY Times

FLINT, Mich. — More than three months after officials declared that Flint residents should not drink the lead-tainted water from their taps, people who live here are still lugging bottled water from a Walmart or firehouse back to...

January 27, 2016 From the Nile to the Amazon, climate change threatens hydropower

Source: The Guardian

From the Amazon to the Nile to the Mekong, rivers are a lifeblood for many nations, filling taps and irrigation canals and generating hydroelectricity that is powering economic development. But a new study warns that changes to...

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