Water gives life (Schewe, et.al., 2014, p.3245). However, it belongs to non-renewable resources which are gradually being depleted. Moreover, increasing public demand leads to pollution. The problems with varying degrees of severity appear at the regional, national, and global levels. Water supply difficulties appear in both developing and developed regions. With world population growth, water scarcity significantly increases. Unfortunately, it has adverse effects on the development of every country and forces the governments to discover alternative ways of resolving the problem. The paper discusses the scale and causes of water scarcity, its effects, and possible ways to resolve the issue.
Scale and Causes of Water Scarcity
Water scarcity affects both developed and developing countries. Fresh drinking water distribution is uneven in the world. Veldkamp et al. (2015) state that while the population in Australia, the Middle East, Pacific, and North America is directly affected by water stress, the shortage of water occurs mainly in Africa and Western Europe (p.22). This difference not only influences the availability of renewable resources but affects the quality of life and ability to survive. However, each country usually solves the problem alone even though freshwater is crucial for every human being. It means that sparsely populated and poor countries together with the developed economies are equal in the face of water scarcity. Mancosu et al. (2015) emphasize that the requirements of water irrigation in developing regions are higher in comparison to the developed ones (p.981). Nevertheless, no matter how advanced the country could be, its economic prosperity cannot address adequately water shortage.
The reasons for the lack of fresh water in the world include a steady increase in demand for water due to the growth of the world population and the development of economical activities. They require enormous costs of water resources and lead to the loss of fresh water in rivers and water pollution with wastewater. Schewe et al. (2014) argue that one of the reasons for the shortage of fresh water is climate change (p.3249). In some countries, primarily developing, pollution corresponds to the costs of economic growth. Postel (2013) states that “industries make the second-largest claim on the world’s water bodies, accounting for a fourth of global water use.” The extraction of minerals, including fuels, uses the huge amount of water that cannot be restored in a natural way. Globally, agriculture contributes to problems related to water. Indeed, the developed regions are the main cause of the current water shortage in the world. Moreover, wastewater treatment in the vast majority of countries of the world is extremely badly organized. The inorganic compounds, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, mineral salts, potassium, and other salts of highly toxic heavy metals, are present in the purification systems.
Effects of Water Shortage
Considering the consequences of the water crisis, it is evident that they can differ. For example, the shortage can deteriorate living conditions, spread diseases, and even cause death. The shortage of clean water forces people to use water from unsafe sources which are highly dangerous to human health. In addition, due to the lack of drinking water, people prefer to store water in their homes. However, it can dramatically increase the risk of contamination and create favorable conditions for the breeding of harmful bacteria. Furthermore, water shortage also deprives people of maintaining hygiene standards. They cannot properly bathe, wash their clothes, and keep their homes clean.
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Water scarcity can hinder or completely stop the development of industries, especially those that consume a large amount of fresh water. Obviously, the lack of fresh water will create a significant impact on agriculture. Indeed, it will lead to poor harvest and famine. Water scarcity negatively influences the economy of countries worldwide (Newton, 2016). Undoubtedly, it becomes an environmental constraint on economic growth in the developing countries. As a result, certain countries introduce water charges to improve the situation. Unfortunately, people with low income suffer most because water charges lead to instability in the country and mass revolts. For example, Irish water control system encouraged the citizens to participate in the street protests. “According to the coalition’s sums, the average family of two adults will pay €278 a year for their water” (McDonald, 2014). Furthermore, the lack of clean drinking water can cause interregional political and military conflicts. The consequence of its shortage is directly associated with an increase in the number of different diseases and epidemics. Finally, water scarcity may result in a significant decline in the birth rate and affect negatively the population.
Overcoming Water Scarcity
One of the ways to overcome the growing shortage of fresh drinking water depends on the strategy which should save other resources during its production, meet household needs, and eliminate the realization of agricultural, industrial, and municipal wastewater in inland waters and sea. The enterprises should organize the workload and maintain the facilities for wastewater treatment. Fortunately, virtually none of the newly created companies could operate without any water treatment facilities. Due to the results of these measures, it is possible to significantly decrease the amount of polluted wastewater discharged into the surface waters. However, the wastewater cannot be cleaned completely. Thus, the process of water contamination continues because the capacity and number of sewage processing plants are insufficient.
Another way to control water shortage is to guard deficient water resources through the utilization of other sources. They include desalinated seawater, redistributed river flows, icebergs that are towed to areas of high water stress. A considerable amount of water can be obtained from rain and melted water in underground storage.
At the same time, groundwater has not been used widely in the world. However, it is often located close to the surface. Moreover, water is usually of good quality. Even in the desert Sahara, there are huge reserves of groundwater that could improve the existence of local residents (Newton, 2016). Freshwater resources can be increased through the use of a closed water recycling system and the introduction of waterless production. The usage of such methods in manufacturing and processing water can contribute remarkably to the protection of both open water bodies and groundwater. Thus, it is possible not only to save this non-renewable natural resource but also to increase the amount of water for residential and industrial buildings. The water resources of the planet are interconnected by the natural process – the water cycle, which encompasses the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and crust. It is crucial to remember that unreasonable human interference in this process can lead to unpredictable results.
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Industry and urban growth, agriculture, and increasing population influence water consumption. Currently, there are problems with the water supply in both developed and developing countries. The poor quality of drinking water poses a real threat to the life and health of millions of people. The current tense situation in water supply affects the health of the population and the economy of any country. Water restrictions, uneven distribution of water resources, and pollution are the most pressing environmental and economic problems of today. However, if people understand that water is a non-renewable resource, it will be possible to overcome the problem of water scarcity. For example, the industry can reorganize production, change household needs, and start using groundwaters.
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