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World Water

[ad#125-right]More bleak water reporting, as usual no solutions are presented, (and this is just one of many articles from this week on the topic)…

Water – the under-reported resource crisis – Telegraph

China can’t feed itself any more, for want of water. Ditto India, where underground water reserves are being over pumped by 100 cubic kilometres a year.

Most of the Middle East is in the same boat. Hence the bread riots in Egypt, where the River Nile no longer reaches the sea because all its water is taken for irrigation.

In recent years, much of the global food trade has become a proxy trade in water. Or rather, the water needed to grow the food. “Virtual water,” some economists call it.

The virtual water trade has kept the hungry in dry lands fed. But now that system is breaking down, because there are too many buyers and not enough sellers.

Till two years ago, the world’s biggest supplier of virtual water was Australia. It exported a staggering 70 cubic kilometres of water a year in the form of crops, mainly food. Drought has more than halved that figure. It may never recover.

This is a global crisis with global implications, yet we are still growing grains for ethanol?  Every human being on the planet will be affected in one way or another. To improve the situation, international water laws need to be introduced to protect countries from multinational companies and the privatization of water. Massive changes are required in the following areas:

  • crops grown,
  • the use of the crops,
  • irrigation methods,
  • water reuse,
  • water and sewer treatment,
  • fertilizer and pesticide application,
  • trade embargoes and other forms of market manipulation
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Maude Barlow presented some solutions in her book Blue Covenant, however, with the current strength and influence of multinational corporations on nation states many of these changes are barely pipe dreams. The situation will likely have to reach critical levels in western countries before anything is done to remedy this global crisis.

On another note, it looks like all water users (read everyone) in the European Union will be paying for what they use soon if this guy gets his way. Makes water meters in Rossland and Castlegar seem like a minor inconvenience really…

Era of cheap water over, say Stavros Dimas, EU Environment Minister – Telegraph

European Environment Minister Stavros Dimas told the conference in Zaragoza, Spain – which has a water theme – that the Continent was squandering too much of its water resources and the guiding principle now had to be: the user pays.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

2 thoughts on “World Water

  1. BBC NEWS | Europe | Spain sweats amid ‘water wars’

    When the city of Barcelona nearly ran out of water earlier this year, the fountains were switched off and severe restrictions were introduced.

    The government of Catalonia pleaded for water to be transferred from rivers like the Ebro – causing a furious row between the regions.

    Instead, the city shipped in millions of litres of water from France and accelerated work on the giant desalination plant on the edge of Barcelona, which promises to provide 180,000 cubic metres of water a day.

  2. Canada at risk of water shortages: federal document
    Internal report urges stronger federal role in managing supplies
    CBC, August 21, 2008

    Canada’s stores of fresh water are not as plentiful as once thought, and threaten to pinch the economy and pit provinces against each other, a federal document says.

    An internal report drafted last December by Environment Canada warns that climate change and a growing population will further drain resources.

    “We can no longer take our extensive water supplies for granted,” says the report, titled A Federal Perspective on Water Quantity Issues.

    The Canadian Press obtained the 21-page draft report under the Access to Information Act.

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