Wednesday, August 7, 2019

17 Countries . . .Face Water Stress : World Resource Institute

The New York Times today mentioned this report, the full title of which reads: 17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress. Published yesterday and written by Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig, and Leah Schleifer, the article reaffirmed the headlines we have read this year about water shortages within certain nations throughout the world. Going beyond drought as the culprit, the article noted that the Institute, through hydrological models, attributed water withdrawals as the current source of concern. To quote the authors, "WRI found that water withdrawals globally have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand-- and they show no signs of slowing down."  The authors classified countries into various categories of what the authors called "water stress": (1) extremely high baseline water stress, (2) high baseline water stress, (3) medium-high baseline water stress, (4) low medium baseline water stress, and low baseline water stress. The 164 countries included only UN members; therefore, Palestine, small island nations, and others did not get ranked.

The 17 countries addressed in the title of the report, cover most of the Middle East, parts of North Africa, and India. The opening paragraph stated that Chennai, India, one of the country's top ten populated cities,  has nearly dry reservoirs. Water extracted in the 17 countries for agriculture, municipal and industrial use caused withdrawals almost equal to supply yearly. One-quarter of countries included in the report extracted 40 percent or more of their available supply annually. In addition to the water stress of the 17 countries, the report mentioned three other trends: (1) India's water stress goes beyond the surface, (2) pockets of extreme water stress exist even in countries with low overall water stress, (3) water stress is not your destiny.

In discussing the trends, the authors identify additional solutions besides agricultural improvements and limiting extraction: increase reuse of water, increase irrigation efficiencies, "conserving and restoring lakes, floodplains, and groundwater recharge areas; and collecting and storing rainwater". Countries can implement other efforts, such as effective water management, realistic pricing, and minimizing food waste and investing in natural and constructed infrastructure that impact water quality and quantity, such as wetlands and pipes and treatment plants.

Go to the following link to find the rankings of UN countries and the categories for each of the 50 states of the United States.

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