WATER SHORTAGE: “DAY ZERO” IS FAST APPROACHING
Since the early 2000s, experts have been alerting us to the world’s biggest crisis: the lack of fresh water.
All water-related risks, by aggregating all selected indicators from the Physical Quantity, Quality and Regulatory & Reputational Risk categories.
What is “zero day”?
Day zero is the fateful date when no more pure water will be available; the day when no more water will come out of our taps.
Currently, over a quarter of humanity is already threatened by this scourge:
- In the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, countries are badly confronted with “extreme water stress“; due to the increasing scarcity of fresh water resources in particular and an inappropriate management (lack of foresight, storage…).
- In the Americas, Australia and Oceania, droughts are increasing and large-scale fires are ravaging forests.
- In Europe, several countries are now on high alert and in a stage of “high water stress“. Some cities are rationing access to water during Summer, while others have set up network cuts at certain times of the day.
All in all, 17 countries are significantly making great strides towards “zero day”, and 27 others spread across the rest of the world (Europe and the Americas) are likely to be affected in the coming decade; for a total of 44 countries – which account for a third of the world’s population.
Climate change is the main cause of this water depletion. Between mega-droughts, torrential rains, river floods, hurricanes, etc.; Groundwater tables can no longer recharge properly and vegetation is under severe strain.
Regardless of the geographical region, water stress can be alleviated by more or less sophisticated measures. The August 2019 report of the World Resources Institute (WRI) gives us 4 simple solutions that can be applied immediately:
- Increasing crop yield: by using seeds that require less water, by collecting and storing rainwater; but also by improving irrigation techniques, through precision watering.
- Investing in green infrastructure: by promoting biodiversity, preserving our forests, and favouring eco-responsible construction in urban and peri-urban areas (parks, green walls or roofs, sustainable water management systems…).
- Investing in grey infrastructure: operating in tandem with green infrastructure, grey infrastructure is built infrastructure (such as pipelines and wastewater treatment plants) that helps solve water supply and water quality problems.
- Treat, reuse and recycle: wastewater should no longer be considered as waste, but as a useful and reusable resource. Indeed, wastewater can be collected and reused in different ways (through water retention and purification systems).
To conclude, in order to postpone or even annihilate this inevitability, a better management of water resources is needed. However, water is an intrinsically local issue – and although the world authorities are very concerned about our future – we should also be aware of the shortage of water and implement actions to preserve this vital resource.
Consult the interactive map of the World Resources Institute (WRI) > https://wri.org/applications/aqueduct/water-risk-atlas
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