If you are currently living in a drought stricken area, you have been experiencing firsthand the impact of a water shortage. For the rest of us, we occasionally hear about it in the news but it doesn’t necessarily impact our daily lives. That is about to change. Water shortages are real and with climate changes are going to be more widespread and frequent.
Water shortages impact everything in our daily lives—the economy, food, energy, disease, and our overall livelihood. Everything from where you vacation to how you do your laundry will be impacted a water shortage. Here are ten things that you should know about water shortages.
Droughts can last more than 100 years
Experts believe California is in the 13th year of a 100 year megadrought. A megadrought is a prolonged water shortage lasting two decades or longer. In fact some believe the megadrought could last more than a century.
Up to 30% of the earth will experience a drought this century
The U.S. National Intelligence Council, the research arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, recently released its Global Trends 2030. The report claims that food, water, and energy will be more scarce; “Nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress; Africa and the Middle East will be most at risk of food and water shortages, with China and India also vulnerable.”
780 million people lack access to clean drinking water
Women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water. Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households. Every minute at least one child dies from a water-related illness.
Armed conflict over access to water is expected by 2020
Conflicts over water, both within countries and between countries, are sharply increasing. According to this article in NewSecurityBeat, Egypt and Ethiopia have recently increased their aggressive posture and rhetoric over the construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the headwaters of the Blue Nile. India continues to build new dams that are seen by its rival Pakistan as a threat to its “water interests” and thus its national security. Turkey, from its dominant position upstream, has been diverting the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and increasing water stress in the already-volatile states of Iraq and Syria.
Food prices are rising due to water shortages
More than 17,000 agricultural-based jobs have been lost in California due to the drought. Experts are predicting an increase of 25-40% for fresh fruits and vegetables such as avocados and lettuce grown in California. Throughout the midwestern US, ranchers have been culling their herds due to animal feed prices that are higher because of the drought conditions. As a result, beef and dairy prices have risen significantly.
Companies are evolving manufacturing processes and are looking to their supply chain to reduce water consumption
Companies are looking towards their supply chain to reduce their environmental footprint. For example, the Levi's® Water<Less™ platform significantly reduces water – up to 97%, resulting in great products with a lower environmental footprint. They have combined multiple wet cycle processes into one, removing water from traditional stonewashing and incorporating ozone processing into garment washing.
Water and energy are intertwined
California’s ability to produce renewable energy from hydroelectric dams has been significantly hampered over the last few years because of an increasingly severe and widespread drought according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. On average, hydropower accounted for 20% of California's in-state generation during the first six months of each year from 2004 to 2013. During the first half of 2014, however, hydropower accounted for only 10% of California's total generation.
Desalination may not be the answer
In the U.S., desalinated water costs at least five times as much to harvest as other sources of fresh water. Desalination requires large amounts of energy and can be expensive and have significant environmental impact - widespread desalination could take a heavy toll on ocean biodiversity. It may be a solution for coastal communities but for communities situated more inland, the cost of transporting the water over the long term may be cost-prohibitive.
Drought areas that depend on outdoor tourism face economic crisis
The North American drought is disrupting a variety of summer activities such as boating, rafting, camping and fishing that help make up the California’s $85-billion outdoor recreation industry. Skiing is expected to take a big hit this coming winter. Communities that depend on this type of tourism as the primary means of business are on the brink of economic collapse.
Technology will play a critical role in helping to address this crisis
Data-driven analytics, more efficient desalination, advanced irrigation, and leak detection technologies are just a few of the innovations that are helping conserve water. This article talks about how the hospitality industry, for example, is turning to a new technology to dramatically cut the amount of water it uses in its laundry operations. Other industries are turning to similar technologies as well.
To learn more about how Hydrofinity technology is helping conserve water, click here.