It’s not an unfamiliar statistic: according to the World Water Council, one of out of every six people on the planet (1.1 billion) lack access to clean drinking water, and 2 out of every six (2.6 billion) lack access to adequate sanitation. By some estimates, the world’s population is expected to increase by 50% over the next 50 years—and all those extra souls will need water. Unfortunately, as a whole, we are not keeping up with demand, now or in the future. According to the 2012 UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water report (released in April of this year), 70% of the world’s countries are falling behind the resource management trends required to sustain their clean water supplies.
To a large extent, water resource management is a regional concern. We are tasked with monitoring, protecting, and transporting our local water resources, be it reservoirs, aquifers, rivers, lakes, or any other combination of sources (including desalination, reuse, and rainwater catchment). The water we use to make our morning coffee, keep our lawn green, wash our cars, or bathe our children may come from the water tank down the street or from snowpack on mountains located miles away, but inevitably water use and conservation are managed locally.
Nevertheless, due to the very nature of the water cycle and the cross-border influence of water supply and demand, the truth is that water resource management is a global issue. With that in mind, it’s worthwhile to cast our eyes beyond the horizon and check in on water matters throughout the world.
In the Middle East, of course, water shortages are nothing new. Many of the region’s countries have extensive water resource management plans in place—most of which include state-of-the-art treatment and reuse along with cutting-edge desalination and wide-ranging conservation plans. Ongoing investment in infrastructure is also par for the course, with Saudi Arabia’s state-owned water utility—National Water Co.—recently pledging $66.4 billion on plant construction and repairs.
We’ve covered China’s water resource management efforts for several years now, and growing industrialization and an expanding middle class are only increasing pressure on the country’s water supplies. For example, while China’s population is nearly five times that of the US, its water resources are much smaller than our own. With an awareness that they may not be able to buy their way out of water shortages in the same way that they can pay to overcome fuel shortages or supplement raw materials important to expanded industrialization, in 2011 the country debuted its 12th “Five-Year Plan.” The plan, which signified a shifting of the country’s focus its to water, delineates several areas of attack to protect against even greater water scarcity. Part of the plan includes spending $536 billion on water purification, treatment, irrigation, and flood controls. New regulations will also limit annual consumption to 635 billion cubic meters by 2015.
Bangladesh sits down river from China and India, and thus is beholden to the water resources management of its upstream neighbors. In Bangladesh, average daily consumption hovers around 2.2 billion liters a day, yet the country can only produce 1.9 to 2 billion liters. This gap between supply in demand is impacting every aspect of life in Bangladesh, from regular water use, to sanitation, and even energy generation. While part of the problem is inconsistent supply due to drought/flood weather patterns, Bangladesh also suffers from inadequate resource management planning and an overdependence on groundwater supplies.
And over in Europe, weather patterns are also impacting water supplies. Terms like “water deficiency”, precipitation scarcity”, and “below average snow yield” are cropping up in forecasts across the continent. During March, for example, Germany and the Czech Republic “didn’t see a single day of rain above 5 mm”. As is always the case, this water scarcity is impacting agriculture and resulting in widespread ramifications: in Germany, for example, water shortages have led to lower than average barley yields, impacting biomass supplies for the entire European Union.
Finally, one year after the Arab Spring, water scarcity is threatening not just public supplies and agricultural yields, it’s threatening governments as well. In Jordan, an overflowing tide of refugees from surrounding countries embroiled in civil unrest and outright war is straining already fragile water supplies. And Jordan is not alone in its struggle to balance political policy with dwindling natural resources. John Kufuor, former president of Ghana and current head of Sanitation and Water for All, believes that increased water scarcity will lead to political instability not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but sub-Saharan Africa as well.
“People migrate to find water anywhere if there’s a scarcity situation,” said Kufuor in an interview with Bloomberg News.
“People have fought wars to access water,” he said—a familiar warning that should not lose power from repetition.
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
Designing Effective Sediment Containment Systems for Construction
Are your containment systems effective? Join Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans for the second installment of our advanced Sediment and Erosion Control Master Class Series and the first part of our Effective Sediment Containment Systems Series, Designing Effective Sediment Containment Systems for Construction Sites, exploring a scientific and engineering assessment of parameters necessary to capture design size particles while flood flows are discharging from a containment system.
April 26 th, 2012
Nutrient Sources and Transformations -
How to Optimize Nutrient Removal in SCMs
Are your Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) effectively removing nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff? Join Bill Lucas to explore how to select and design SCMs to improve nitrogen and phosphorus retention. After an overview of nitrogen and phosphorous forms, sources, and transformations, Lucas will discuss how nitrogen and phosphorus transformations can be optimized in SCMs; how to select and design SCMs for settings; and how to tailor these programs to meet TMDL requirements more cost effectively.
May 2nd, 2012
Limitations of Commonly Found Construction Site Sediment Control BMPS
Are your temporary BMPs reliable? Join Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans for the third installment of our advanced Sediment and Erosion Control Master Class Series and the second part of our Effective Sediment Containment Systems Series, Limitations of Commonly Found Construction Site Sediment Control BMPs, exploring temporary BMPs, their limitations (e.g., barrier BMPs), and the principals and practice in assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of barrier BMPs.
May 3rd, 2012
How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls
Avoid the water auditing pitfalls! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls on Thurs., May 3rd to learn the step-by-step process of performing a water audit; the key information, tools, equipment, rebates, and typical pitfalls in performing successful audits; and learn how to use a custom plumbing fixture water audit spreadsheet. Learn how to successfully conduct your own water audit and avoid common water auditing pitfalls to ensure your audit goes smoothly.
May 17th, 2012
Effective LID Stormwater Reduction
Improve your stormwater reduction through effective low impact design (LID). Join Douglas Beyerlein, P.E., P.H., D.WRE to explore the different types of LID (e.g., green roofs, rain gardens / bioretention, impervious runoff dispersion, etc.), how they work
May 31st, 2012
How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Water Audit Reports
Maximize your payback! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Audit Reports on Thurs., May 31st addressing the most essential skill in water auditing: how to calculate payback period and incorporate it effectively in your water audit report. Within this discussion, Aichele will explore how to calculate water audit improvement periods using a custom-built payback spreadsheet calculator; how to calculate use rates; how to incorporate savings, rebates and utility increases into your payback calculations; and how to write a water audit report letter incorporating water audit results and payback periods.
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).
April – May 2012
Water Auditing Master Series
Learn the ins-and-outs of water auditing! Join 2010’s Speaker of the Year, Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for the Water Auditing Master Series, a 3-part webinar/webcast series focusing on getting you up-to-speed on the key attributes, uses, and opportunities in water auditing, as demonstrating step-by-step how to conduct a water audit, avoid the pitfalls, calculate payback periods, and incorporate these into your reports.
* Water Auditing 101: Introduction to Water Auditing
* How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls
* How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Water Audit Reports