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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.

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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 information:www.sustainabilityhq.com.






Latest on Water - Quality & Quantity

May 4, 2015 5 facts you need to know about Lake Mead’s water crisis

Source: Brookings

This week, the water level in Lake Mead dropped to an all-time low, falling below 1080 feet above sea level for the first time in 78 years. As drought continues to afflict the American West, the dire situation at Lake Mead will...

May 1, 2015 Nine things I learned at the 2015 Global Water Summit

Global Water Intelligence - 7) There are alternatives to the traditional utility model: We hosted the îWorld Economic Forumîâs Global Agenda Council on Water to work on a new economic model for water access. The...

May 1, 2015 Starbucks’s embarrassment: Ethos water comes from drought-ridden California

Source: Washington Post

A Starbucks spokesman told Mother Jones Ethos comes from “a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities.”

April 30, 2015 Oil drilling may slow drought recovery in the Great Plains, new evidence shows

Source: Mashable

As the main driver of climate change, the connection between burning fossil fuels and global warming is clear. But evidence shows they may be connected in another way — the physical footprint of oil and gas development on the...

April 29, 2015 Amid drought, California's Brown wants big fines for wasting water

Source: Reuters

Governor Jerry Brown proposed legislation on Tuesday that would impose steep fines for wasting water in drought-parched California.

April 28, 2015 Fracking is not the cause of quakes. The real problem is fracking’s wastewater

Source: Washington Post

The maps highlight 17 hot spots where communities face a significantly increased risk of earthquakes, and the accompanying report links the earthquakes to injection wells used to dispose of fracking wastewater. Previous maps did...

April 27, 2015 Western drought steals clean energy along with fresh water at power plants

Source: Washington Post

INSIDE HOOVER DAM — The floor rumbled under Mark Cook. His legs vibrated as he stood in a tunnel tucked into the thick base of Hoover Dam, 430 feet below the tourists looking out over Lake Mead. Beneath him, water roared through...

April 27, 2015 Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians

Source: NY Times

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which...

April 27, 2015 State drought tests water rights

Source: Fresno Bee

MEADOW VALLEY — High above a landscape parched by unremitting drought, Meadow Valley Creek courses through the northern Sierra Nevada and pools in a stand of alders behind a tiny, concrete dam.

April 24, 2015 Ocean output rivals big nations’ GDP, but resources eroding

Source: Reuters

Economic output by the world’s oceans is worth $2.5 trillion a year, rivaling nations such as Britain or Brazil, but marine wealth is sinking fast because of over-fishing, pollution and climate change, a study said on Thursday.

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