Water is one of the most important resources because our health and existence depends on it. The growth in human population and our growing industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors needs have taken a heavy toll on this vital resource. Water crisis is mostly a problem of the third world countries and the developing nations where there has been a spurt in the growth of population. Almost 50% of the world population is facing a shortage of water supply. The use of water has increased four times because of industrialization and technological advancement. (Clarke, 1991) More and more water is being made available for use as dams are being built and infrastructure is being developed to gain access to the ground water. Almost 44% of the run off water is now harnessed for human use. The mismanagement of the water resources is making it scarce. The reasons of scarcity of water are mainly the rise population, pollution and poor management of water.
Water covers 75% of our earth surface.In fact it is the most abundant renewable natural resource. The irony of the situation is this that is this that despite the colossal amount water 97% of the water is saline and therefore is unfit for use either for drinking agriculture or industrial purposes. (Gliek, 1993) The remaining constitutes the fresh water supply even that is not uniformly distributed. The fresh water is tucked away in the glaciers on the mountain and on the polar ice caps. The former provides the source of supply to the rivers and the later remains inaccessible. Sometimes the water seeps into depths or the belly of the earth from where the extraction of water becomes a very costly affair. Nations of the world don’t receive an equal share of water because the climate and the topography of the place define the amount of water received. The Atacama Desert in South America, Arica in Chile and the Africa’s Sahara desert are examples of places where there is either zero or very little rainfall. The hydrological cycle is responsible for evaporating water from the oceans and then disbursing it on the earth. Most of our rivers and streams are comprised of this water.
Energy crisis has received more attention because the industrialized and the developed nation of the world are affected by this issue. Their progress and sustainability of their standard of living is depended on the availability of this resource. Despite the fact that water shortage and use of polluted and unfit water for drinking purposes is responsible for death of one child every eight second it has not received that much attention as is required. One of the reasons is that those affected by the energy crisis are affluent people of developed nation who are at the helm of affairs in the world, where as those who are battling with this problem which is life threatening are from the poor nation of the world. Water crisis have been relegated to the background despite around 10 million deaths are caused due to contamination of water. ( Gleick,1993) The struggle for access to water often is also the struggle between urban and rural world. The world is becoming more and more industrialized.
Proper Management of Water
Water can be used properly if we depend more on rains to irrigate fields and grow those kinds of crops that require less water to grow. There should be emphasis on developing techniques that require less money to desalinate the sea water that is available to us in abundance. The world is becoming more and more technologically advanced and it is developing newer and newer kinds of chemicals which it is dumping in its water sources. Proper disposal of the chemical waste can lead to less pollution of water and in this way more and more water fit for drinking can be made available to the people. There is in alienable link with scarcity of water and poverty.
There are many reasons for the crisis of water in the world. The availability of water depends upon the climate of the place and its geographical location. This alone cannot assure that water will be available through out the year. Cheerapunji in India is a region that records highest millimetres of rain received almost 9000 mm, but after a few months the same place has little water to offer to its inhabitants. (Clarke, 1991) This is an example of how mismanagement of water can cause problems in accessing water. It has been suggested that there should be rain water harvesting in areas like these where is heavy rainfall for a short span of time. Reservoirs should be built to collect rain water. The seepage of water in the earth can be prevented by building cemented tanks to collect water.
There have been unanimous opinions by organizations like the United Nations and voluntary organizations through out the world that there is less lack of water than miss management of water. The management of water is important because it is in turn going to affect the food production. Irrigation is one of the most water consuming human endeavour. It takes up 70% –90% of water. (Rogers et al, 2006) Water is a renewable source. Even a layman knows that because of hydrological cycle, the water cannot go anywhere but it can become inaccessible as it can seep down to such a depth where it cannot be tapped and pollution and contamination of water can make useless.
Apart from managing how to store and distribute water we also have to mange the quality of water. Much of the drinking water becomes unsuitable for drinking by human activities which can be properly managed to reduce health hazards and increase the volume of water available for use.
We can see that how important rivers like Rhine can be used for navigations and this can in turn lead to pollution of the waters. There has been successful management of the Rhine river to save itself from pollution. (Knepper, 2006). Technological development can go hand in hand with the preservation of resources like water.This example shows that proper management and awareness can reduce the effect of mans advancement.
There are many areas in water management that haven’t received much attention like how to meet the increasing demands of water for irrigation as there has been ten fold increase in this activity. (Clarke 1991).
The natural resources like air water and energy have been mismanaged and misused by man in his quest for development. Pollution is the bane of modernity. It is one of the causes of making this precious resource scarce on the planet and especially in the poorer nation. It caused by the deposition of silt and sediment which is carried by rainwater when the trees are cut down and there is nothing to hold the soil.
The countries most acutely affected by this problem in Africa are Ethiopia Mozambique Lesotho Botswana etc. During the 1970s and 1980s there were multiple reasons like the famine civil wars and recession in economy for the acute food and the water shortage faced by the people. These poor nations of the world didn’t have the means to opt for the costly measures to ensure continuous supply of water. Water is essential for pulling our lives because we need it to drink wash, grow vegetables and grains. We also need water to make steel leather clothes, etc. Water also becomes polluted when sewage and organic waste is dumped in the water. This lowers the content of oxygen in the water. The chemical contaminants in the rivers of England have become an issue of great relevance because these contaminations can cause health problems.
The problem of water scarcity is reaching global dimensions because increase in population is putting a stress on the resource even in the developed countries like, America; there has been depletion of water in regions such as California. The need of the hour is to address the problem in a comprehensive manner. And effort should be made on the international level because it is causing death and depravation.
Contamination of Water and Health Hazards
There are two kinds of contamination of water, one caused by the presence of disease causing bacteria and viruses in the water and the other kind of contamination is caused by the deposition of industrial waste in water sources like, rivers and streams. Both these kinds of contaminations have a deleterious effect on the health of the members of society. A lot of work needs to be done in finding out what effects various contaminants like, nitrate from fertilizer, chemical from pesticides and mercury from mining operation have on human health. There has been an increased awareness about the quality of water and its detrimental effect on the health. Sewage and biological waste are being dumped in developing nations in the rivers.and this leads to the spread of bacterial diseases like, cholera in the poorer nations of the world. The development of proper sanitation and sewage facilities can help prevent hundreds of death caused by cholera.
It has been arises in cancer and infertility in the industrialized world. Studies need to be conducted to ascertain their causes. The problem of the chemical contaminations is faced by the developed nations of the world as well.
Water is a precious resource; it needs to be properly managed and care should be taken to see that human activity doesn’t deplete the quality of water. Developed nations like, America are also realising that their underground water table is getting lowered. Colorado and Rio Grande rivers are running into sandy beds of dried up rivers. (Midkiff,2007) Some researchers even claim that water dispute internationally can lead to conflagration as many nations of world share rivers. Contamination of the water is affecting our ecosystem. The world should pay more attention to the global water crisis because innocent human lives are being lost. People should be made aware of the ill effects of use of contaminated water.
Bjorn LomborgThe Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (2001).
Ken Midkiff (Author), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Not a Drop to Drink: America’s Water Crisis (and What You Can Do) New World Library (2007).
Peter H. Gleick Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources, Oxford University Press, USA (1993).
Peter P. Rogers, M. Ramon Llamas , Luis Martinez Cortin, Robin Clarke Water Publisher: Earthscan Ltd (1991).
Thomas P. Knepper The Rhine (Handbook of Environmental Chemistry) Springer; 1 edition (2006).
Water Crisis: Myth or Reality? Marcelino Botin Water Forum 2004 (Balkema: Proceedings and Monographs in Engineering, Water and Earth Sciences) Taylor & Francis (2006).