Monday, February 28, 2011

Water demand will 'outstrip supply by 40% within 20 years'

Daily Mail (UK): Water demand in many countries will exceed supply by 40 per cent within 20 years due to the combined threat of climate change and population growth, scientists have warned. A new way of thinking about water is needed as looming shortages threaten communities, agriculture and industry, experts said.

In the next two decades, a third of humanity will have only half the water required to meet basic needs, said researchers. Agriculture, which soaks up 71 per cent of water supplies, is also likely to suffer, affecting food production.

Filling the global water gap by supply measures alone would cost an estimated £124billion per year, a meeting in Canada was told. But this could be cut to between £31billion and £37billion by an approach which both raised supply and lowered demand, according to leading water economist Dr Margaret Catley-Carlson.

Around 300 scientists, policy makers, and economists attended the international meeting in Ottawa hosted by the Canadian Water Network (CWN) in the run-up to U.S. World Water Day on March 22. Dr Catley-Carlson, a director of the CWN, which co-ordinates water research and policy in Canada, and vice-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Water Security, said: 'We need to brace for what could easily be humanity's greatest short-term challenges.'

The vast amount of 'virtual water' used in farming and industry was highlighted by Nicholas Parker, chairman of international environmental technology consultants Cleantech Group. …'What people don't often realise is how much water there is in everything we make and buy, from T-shirts to wine,' Mr Parker added….

The main spillway for the Rivière des Prairies dam in the north end of Montreal, shot by Blanchardb at en.wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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