Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on September 24, 2012

Bookmark and Share

Water scarcity a growing problem, experts say


By 2030, half the world’s population will live in areas where water is scarce, a panel of water experts at the National Geographical Society said Tuesday.

Speakers at the conference sponsored by GrowingBlue emphasized the need to solve the problem now by using global response strategies, rather than waiting until the problem peaks. An area is considered water stressed if the demand for water is higher than the availability.

The Western and Midwestern U.S. are the most at-risk locations, with more than five states at extreme risk of water scarcity in 40 years, according to data from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Water is a finite resource,” Michael Sullivan, a global segment executive at IBM, said. “What we’re dealing with is that there’s a finite supply, and as the population grows and industry grows, we’re stressing that finite supply.”

Projections indicate the global population will increase from just over 7 billion today to 8 or 9 billion by 2050, leading researchers in the water industry to stress the importance of addressing water scarcity issues immediately.

“We are at the dawn of a very important era,” Chairman and CEO of Environmental Financial Products Richard Sandor said.

Sandor suggested conserving water by treating it as a commodity and instituting a cap and trade concept to alleviate the scarcity issue.

“If you can grade it, you can trade it,” Sandor said.

Mary Keeling, manager of the Center for Economic Analysis at IBM, said pricing water may concern some Americans, but it benefits the economy and conservation as a whole.

“There’s a huge fear of having a national water policy, but you’ve got to have some leadership there,” Keeling said.

One company that successfully conserves water is the Las Vegas Valley Water District in Nevada. Senior public information coordinator J.C. Davis said the agency uses about 36 billion fewer gallons of water than a decade ago even though population has increased.

“We are able to capture and recover virtually 100 percent of indoor water,” he said. “So if it goes down a drain, we capture and recover it at almost 100 percent efficiency.”

The water is treated and goes back to customers.

Indoor conservation is important, Davis said, but outside water use is also important. In response, the Las Vegas Valley Water District has landscape watering restrictions. Davis said customers are rewarded with rebates and coupons if they maintain low water use levels.

He disagrees with the idea of a national water policy. He said a national policy would disregard the individual fiscal needs of a community.

It is possible for communities to agree on a set of water use rules, Davis said. In 2003, all theĀ  municipalities in the Southern Nevada Water Authority agreed on one set of rules. However, Davis said a national policy is not realistic.

“We are opposed to any one-size-fits-all solution,” Davis said. “We’re more supportive of the idea of best practices that communities can look at adopting in water efficiency.”

Water is also an essential element for a strong economy, Keeling said.

“Water matters for producing goods and services,” she said. “If you don’t have water, you can’t do this stuff, which means you’re not going to be able to have the same level of economic activity.”

Leaky pipes contribute to millions of dollars in water loss. For example, the New York City water supply system leaks almost 36 million gallons per day.

Many urban water systems are old. In the D.C. system, many pipes are nearing 80 years old.

Keeling said installing “smart meters” would help save money. These meters track water usage and infrastructure leaks every 15 minutes, alerting customers if water is not being conserved.

DC Water has installed automated meter reading equipment that tracks two readings per day. In 2006, DC Water also began using technology to notify consumers of high water use. DC Water may call, email or text a notification identifying high water use on any given day. A planned sysem upgrade will provide more details.

Many homes and businesses in the U.S. have water monitoring systems, but they collect data only once every 30 or 60 days. Sullivan said it is difficult to be water conscious during that length of time.

“The more readings you take, the better you can understand patterns of use, the better you can detect if leaks happens,” Sullivan said. “If the only reading you get is once over 60 days, you’re not going to notice it until your bill comes.”

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has meters that collect data on a monthly basis. However, if a customer has high water use by the end of the month, warnings are issued. Customers must reduce their water use they are fined. Most customers make changes before a fee is necessary.

AXcess News

3 Comments on "Water scarcity a growing problem, experts say"

  1. BillT on Tue, 25th Sep 2012 1:06 am 

    Ina “for Profit” world, nothing is going to change until there is no choice.

    Las Vegas will keep the lights on and the gold courses green until they cannot.

    Farmers will pump the aquifers down until there is nothing left.

    Frakers will take all the water they need to keep their bad investments from failing until they have no more to inject.

    The West has the resources and opportunity to make significant changes, but will not for 600 million reasons, mostly financial, until it is too late.

    The rest of the world will muddle along and die as necessary to balance the system. That is how nature operates. Dodo bird or human, nature does not care if you survive or not. Life will go on.

  2. DMyers on Tue, 25th Sep 2012 2:36 am 

    Life go on without us, BillT? Surely not. No, we are too important, too special. Look at the cartoons and comic books we have created.

    I have to agree. This system won’t stop until it hits the wall. That’s all that will stop it.

    The all too human mechanism that creates this certainty is clear. No one will conserve because that one’s conservation will be squandered by someone else.

    On top of that is faith in technology. We’re not really going to hit the wall. They’ll come up with something to save us.

    Oops…save us! Save us!… Splat!

  3. Kenz300 on Tue, 25th Sep 2012 4:27 pm 

    Water crisis, oil crisis, food crisis, fish stocks crisis…..

    Anyone see a pattern here?

    Too many people chasing too few resources.

    The world adds 80 million more mouths to feed every year. Endless population growth is not sustainable.

    Access to family planning services needs to be available to all that want it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *