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Climate change and “Impact” on drinking water

The combined effects of population growth, accelerated urbanization and industrialization, the increase in irrigated crop areas, as well as the acceleration in the frequency of extreme weather events, are creating an increase in global demand in fresh water.

July 14, 2023
5 min read

Image credit © by Getty Image, Engineer working at the industrial zone for operating equipment.

United Nations World Bank UNESCO Water Treatment OECD

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, and affordable access to water for personal and household use.

Today, water scarcity affects around 40% of the world's population and, according to United Nations and World Bank forecasts, If trends continue, drought could put up to 700 million people at risk. displacement by 2030 as 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with complete water scarcity.

The acceleration in the frequency of extreme weather events is affecting many regions of the globe, in duration and over increasingly vast territories.

Image credit © by Getty Image, Young pepper plants growing in a dry cracked field at the Fruit and Vegetable Growers.

Since 1970, the Mediterranean, Southern Africa, South Asia and the Sahel have experienced longer and more intense droughts due to the decrease and scarcity of rainfall on water resources. Unlike subtropical regions, regions located in the northern hemisphere see their precipitation increase. Heavier precipitation is already observed in the Americas, Northern Europe, Central Asia, and Northern Asia. This precipitation results in greater runoff, which in turn impacts ecosystems and generates floods and landslides.

Also, in its report, UNESCO insists on the fact that all the countries of the world run risks related to the quality of water. For industrialized countries, the most serious problem is that of agricultural runoff, which causes water contamination by fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. In low-income countries, UNESCO estimates that 80% of wastewater is discharged without even being treated, which has impacts both on the health of communities and on the environment around them.

Around the world, insufficient water treatment and lack of sanitation cause people to fall ill. Contamination of drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 deaths each year from diarrheal diseases, among others, the presence of arsenic, fluoride, or nitrate.

Image credit © by Getty Image, Orange juice bottling line for processing and bottling juice into bottles.

OECD projections indicate a 55% increase in water demand between 2000 and 2050. The increase will come mainly from manufacturing activities (+400%), electricity production (+140%), and domestic uses (+130%). Given the competition between these demands, it will hardly be possible to increase the volumes intended for irrigation.

Sources used for drinking water and irrigation will continue to evolve and will likely rely increasingly on groundwater and new sources of supply, including wastewater.

Improving the management of all water resources to guarantee the quantity and quality of supply for the world's population is and will be a challenge for humanity.

The availability of drinking water will depend on the capacity of man to retain it!



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