Water Shortage With All the Concern Term Paper

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Water Shortage

With all the concern over global warming and the rise of the water levels, one of the other main issues is being "watered down" (pun intended). According to a number of studies, with less than three percent of the world's water now acceptable for human use, the impact of a water shortage from the climate change could be catastrophic. The question is if enough preparations are being made for such an occurrence.

Between 1900 and 1995, the consumption of water climbed sixfold, or over two times the rate of population growth (Anderson, 2005). The United Nation estimates that by 2025, five billion of the world's expected 8 billion people will lack access to safe water (Funk, 2007). In fact, at current usage rates, Delhi, India, will run out of groundwater by 2015 (Anderson, 2005).

This water shortage problem is based on the irrefutable fact that fresh water suitable for human use is a finite resource; it accounts for less than 3% of the world's total supply of water. Of this very small amount, most, or 2%, is locked away in ice caps and glaciers. Groundwater only adds up 0.62%, lakes.009%, and rivers a mere 0.00001%. Since the annual supply of renewable fresh water remains relatively constant, the amount of water available per person will continue to decrease substantially along with the quickly rising population and associated environmental degradation. Water scarcity worldwide that may reach crisis proportions in a matter of years. (Anderson, 2005).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Many believe this is a Third World problem. The most critical shortages will be outside of the U.S., but global conflict is expected since Americans use more water per capita than anywhere else. Water sources in the U.S. are already are showing strain. Aquifers here are draining more quickly than they can be replenished, and the largest one, which is called Ogallala and stretches from the states of South Dakota to Texas, has recorded localized dips in the water table of 150 feet. In addition, seven states in the West are attempting to get more water from the drought-ridden Colorado River, which is already reduced to 0.1% of its volume before reaching the Gulf of California. Rapidly increasing cities throughout the Southwest and West, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, have reported numerous droughts and stretched their water supplies to capacity and beyond (McKenzie, 2007).

The U.N.'s water shortage estimates are based on a number of studies that have been conducted since the threat of global warming became more apparent. For example, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington (2005) state that global warming will reduce glaciers and storage packs of snow in worldwide areas and impact millions of people. Human-produced greenhouse gases, and the warmer climates that result, will significantly affect ice and snow-dependent regions and lead to major disruptions to water supply and resource management systems.

Based on researchers' findings, the forces leading to the warming trend will cause more water to fall as rain than as snow, which will fill reservoirs to capacity earlier than normal. This change in climate will also lead to snow melting in earlier months than in prior decades and disrupt the usual timing of accessible water from snow runoff of streams. Water shortages are therefore expected in areas where reservoir capacity is not able to hold the annual cycle of rain/snow. For instance, hydrological simulations in Europe warn that climate warming in the Rhine River Basin may reduce peak-demand water availability for manufacturing production, agriculture and consumer uses. As a result, ship transportation, flood protection and hydropower generation could be threatened (Sea Technology, 2005).

Mohamed Dahab (2007) recently went to Stockholm Water Week session in Sweden and participated in "arguably one of the most diverse global water forums." Participants consisted of environmentalists, engineers, technologists, economists, political scientists, and social activists. Stockholm Water Week examines the world's water situation with special emphasis on water supply and sanitation. It reviews the progress toward solutions and the commitment to sustaining the water environment within a global setting. "It was clear from the many discussions at Water Week that the water crisis is worldwide," states Dahab. "While we are all affected by the current energy prices, the world is also facing a water crisis" (np)

Is any appropriate action is appropriate being taken to prevent this world water crisis? Experimentation in several areas is taking place. However, all of these solutions have their price. Desalination, for example, is very costly. The world's largest inland plant, an $87-million, 27.5-million-gallons-per-day (MGD) project in El Paso, Texas, is beginning to make salty groundwater potable starting this year. The country's first large-scale seawater plant, a 25-MGD facility that was having operational difficulties, finally began operations in Tampa, Florida. In Arizona, a test reopening of the earlier shutdown Yuma Desalting Plant may help reduce Colorado River losses. As many as 20 desalination projects along the coast in California will be debated. The fate of the largest plants, two 50-MGD facilities in Carlsbad and Huntington Beach, could be decided by this summer (Funk, 2007).

Normally high-electricity consumption desalination plants are starting to become more economically feasible because of technological advances in water-purifying reverse-osmosis membranes, which are contained in a large plant by the thousands. The newest can produce upward of 10,000 gallons a day, or an increase from 5,000 gallons in the late 1990s. Composite materials may soon double a membrane's life, from five to ten years, and nanotube-based membranes will shorten the length each water molecule must travel. Nikolay Voutchkov of Poseidon Resources, the company responsible for the Carlsbad and Huntington Beach, California, projects states: "If this happens, plant productivity will go up 20 times. "It's like having a vacuum-tube computer, then switching to the microprocessor" (Funk, 2007, p. 52)

Other scientists caution that desalination is a supply-side solution to a demand-side problem. They wonder if the cost and environmental effects, including the marine kills during intake and discharges of hyper-saline brine, are worth the expense and instead look at reclamation and reuse. George Tchobanoglous, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at University of California Davis, adds. "There are a number of new technologies out there, such as membrane designs, advanced oxidation, and endocrine disruptors, which are altering the way that we think about things. But the focus must be on reclamation and reuse." Other scientists agree it is necessary to combine the technology, the policy, and the economic power of water. Already, worldwide development is taking place where there is a lack of a natural water supply. To sustain that development and bring peace to these areas of the world, reclaimed water may be the solution (Funk, 2007, p. 52).

However, experts recognize the many barriers that face the use of reclaimed wastewater. For example, public perception issues must be addressed. If a schoolyard is watered with reclaimed water, for example, a parent may be concerned about using it to clean off his/her child's cut, because of infection from water, regardless that reclaimed water is probably cleaner than drinking water. However, the present perception is if it was once wastewater, it is dirty (Anderson, 2005).

Water collected from roofs and stored underground can also be of considerable help: For instance, the airport terminal in Frankfurt, Germany, annually captures 16 million liters of rain on its roof and uses it for cleaning, gardening and toilets. Water resources will also need integrated into the solution of people's social, economic, and health needs. Better water-management techniques include conserving supplies by repairing underground pipes, using more-economical methods of irrigation, and installing water-saving appliances (Coles, 2005).

Charging for water may be an option. However, discussions to its validity are raised. The opponents ask, Will this not encourage water thrift? The other side questions[END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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