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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 5, 2015 'We woke up in a desert' – the water crisis taking hold across Egypt

Source: The Guardian

UN says the country will face ‘absolute water scarcity’ by 2025, but for some villages the catastrophe has already arrived – as the Middle East faces severe heatwave. Mada Masr reports

August 5, 2015 Puerto Rico's other crisis: It's running out of water

Source: CNN Money

A drought has forced the island's government to ration water. It's become so bad that the government is actually turning off tap water in people's homes, sometimes for days at a time. The main tourist areas, however, are exempt...

August 3, 2015 Great Plains Faces Invisible Water Crisis

Source: Times Record

Unlike in California, where national headlines, severe water-use restrictions and images of cracked earth bear testament to the ravages of drought, the crisis unfolding on Peterson’s farm and others like it across western Kansas...

August 3, 2015 Water & Farmers: Things to Know About AP-GfK Drought Poll

Source: ABC News

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds most Americans think of water as a limited resource that can be depleted if people use too much. When asked to rate priorities when water is scarce during a drought, more said agriculture...

July 31, 2015 Purchase of Select Unilever Products at Walgreens to Trigger Donation of Clean Water Overseas*

Benzinga - Unilever ranked number one in its sector on the 2014 îDow Jones Sustainabilityî Index. The entire Unilever global factory network, as well as its U.S. non-manufacturing facilities, have achieved zero...

July 29, 2015 How the UN’s latest initiative could end the water crisis in 15 years

Source: Eco-Business

The troubling state of the world’s water security has come into clear focus over the last decade, and the challenge is urgent. Scientists forecast some 1.8 billion people will live with water scarcity by 2025. Pakistan for...

July 28, 2015 Seattle, Everett, Tacoma urge water conservation in drought

Source: Rapid News Network

The cities of Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma have implemented the first stage of their water shortage response plans and are asking residents to manage water use. Though the response plan is just an “advisory”, the city...

July 27, 2015 On four continents, historic droughts wreak havoc

USA Today - according to the U.N.'s îIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeî. Every drought is unique, said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank in Oakland. "The same drought...

July 24, 2015 California's drought is 'a harbinger of the coming global water crisis'

Source: Business Insider

"We view the unprecedented drought in California as a harbinger of the coming global water crisis," BAML strategists wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. "By 2050E, 45% of projected GDP is at risk, with as many as 50 countries...

July 24, 2015 Isaac Orr: No, fracking isn't causing earthquakes

Source: Grand Forks Herald

The increase in earthquakes in these two states likely is due to the disposing of wastewater generated during the hydraulic fracturing process, not the fracturing process itself. The U.S. Geological Survey has stated, "Hydraulic...

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