Water Scarcity: 3 strategies for cities
Scarcity of fresh water is the biggest world problem according to the Nature Conservancy. A lot of cities suffer under water stress.
A quarter of the planet will experience severe water shortages one month per year by 2030.
The Nature Conservancy is working on a variety of strategies to protect water at its source, increase water efficiencies, and engage corporate and municipal leaders, governments, urban residents and other institutions in watershed stewardship. They offer 3 strategies
Today, 2 billion people live in regions with dry, fragile climates that are threatened by periods of water scarcity. Global freshwater withdrawals are expected to increase by 40 percent over the next three decades. By 2040, two-thirds of the global population will be in areas suffering from water stress.
In the southern reaches of Egypt, the city of Aswan is one of the hottest and sunniest in the world. Temperatures reach 41C in the summer and less than a millimeter of rain falls each year. Some years it doesn’t rain at all.
Aswan may be one of the world’s least rainy places, but it’s not even close to being the most water-stressed city. It nestles on the east bank of the Nile, close to the Aswan High Dam and the vast Lake Nasser, one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. With a capacity of 132 cubic km, the dam serves the irrigations needs not just of Aswan, but Egypt and neighboring Sudan as well.
The water we drink is only a fraction of the water we use. Agriculture accounts for approximately 71 percent of water withdrawals. Energy production and other industries account for another 16 percent, and municipal water supply systems withdraw the remaining 13 percent.
Areas rich in aquatic wildlife habitat such as wetlands and river deltas may shrink as water is diverted to human use. As aquifers are depleted and water tables drop, the water that would normally discharge to springs and seeps is lost.
Reducing agricultural water demand will be key to meeting growing water needs. Strategies include more efficient irrigation systems; changes in tilling practices so that less soil moisture is lost through evaporation; shifts to crops requiring less water; and the development of new hybrid plants that can produce good yields in drier conditions.
We should fully expect that similar voluntary and market-based arrangements between farmers and cities will be developed to meet water supply needs as cities struggle with growing scarcity. New forms of environmental governance—in addition to new science and technology—will be required to enable many cities to meet their water needs.
The Nature Conservancy is working on a variety of strategies to protect water at its source, increase water efficiencies, and engage corporate and municipal leaders, governments, urban residents and other institutions in watershed stewardship. These strategies are being undertaken in cities and communities around the globe, including more than 20 of the world’s largest cities.
- Financing Watershed Conservation
The Nature Conservancy is helping water users in and around cities – utilities, businesses and citizens – become principal investors in long-term strategies to protect water supplies through our innovative tool that helps finance conservation solutions in watersheds. It results in more than a dozen Water Funds in Latin America, North America and Africa, and have more than 20 in development.
Learn more about our Water Funds strategy and our Water Funds in Latin America.
- Engaging Companies as Water Stewards
The Nature Conservancy is working with a number of food and beverage companies internationally to protect and invest in the water sources on which they and the communities in which they work rely. It’s good for business, it’s good for local communities and it’s good for nature. Learn more about our work with General Mills, where Nature Conservancy is collaborating on efforts to secure freshwater for communities in Mexico.
- Activating Urban Residents
Where Does Your Water Come From? It’s a simple question, but most people don’t know the answer when asked. That’s why people have to be educated about the facts of water in order to support them to reduce and reuse their fresh water.
The Nature platform provides critical information on the global and local water challenges we face and details the sources of water.
- Hydro dam in Ethiopia will bring hunger and conflicts
- Future urban water security
- Large Hydro Dams in tropical areas accelerate climate change
- Ecological footprint: Since 1970 we lost 50% of our wild animals
- Bujagali hydropower plant in Uganda
- Green African Deserts
- Nigeria is planning for additional 2,5mw of renewable energy by 2015
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