It can be difficult to reconcile the fact that water shortages are an ongoing threat, even in nations like the United States, especially when exposed to the barrage of news reports covering floods and storms that are accompanied by staggering amounts of water. After all, the majority of the planet is covered in water. The trick is getting fresh water where it is needed.
For people who don’t live in developing countries, water related issues are less relevant, seemingly taking on more of a socially conscious role. By understanding the underlying causes driving the shortages that societies in various parts of the world experience when attempting to access clean drinking water, experts can continue to provide valuable insights to address the hardships in those areas and try to prevent similar disastrous effects elsewhere.
Water scarcity officially means that the available supply of clean water is insufficient to accommodate the demands in that region. The path to most water shortages is rarely straightforward and is often due to human interference rather than mother nature. Education and learning to identify the early warning signs can improve awareness and avert a wide-scale crisis.
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What Causes Water Shortage?
1. Pollution :
Water has to be potable. In other words, it has to be safe to drink. Pollution severe enough to impact the water supply can occur due to any a number of reasons, which is why most governments manage the allocation of water to their citizens. Because water sources are continually at risk of contamination from both natural and man-made pollutants, water treatment plants and well-maintained sewage systems are critical to the infrastructure of every population across the globe.
However, it is an unfortunate reality that there are still some poverty-stricken countries that do not have the ability to offer these amenities to their entire populace.
Maintaining a clean water supply is an ongoing responsibility. Continual investment in technology and equipment is essential in order to efficiently purify and distribute water. The goal is to sidestep, or at the very least minimize the effects of events that can restrict water usage. Relatively few people are self-reliant when it comes to procuring and sanitizing their own water, so if there is any disruption to their water source, the consequences can be catastrophic.
2. Overuse :
Excess is one of the most common reasons water scarcity is a cause for concern in many areas. Many people take its availability for granted and oftentimes use it carelessly. Many restaurants exhibit this tendency, serving water to all their guests although in some instances the glasses will go untouched in favor of other beverages that have been ordered.
Small leaks in sinks or sprinkler systems are not always addressed timely unless there is a significant impact on the utility bill. Recreational features like swimming pools continue to grow in popularity and few people will suffer a dirty car for too long a period.
Meanwhile, manicured lawns and gardens in neighborhoods continue to flourish. While no one is advocating a completely austere existence devoid of luxury, it does make sense to be cognizant of the conditions in the surrounding region, ensuring that there are no water shortages. And, it is always a good policy to not purposefully waste water in the course of daily activities.
3. Droughts :
When an area does not get enough precipitation, the amount of available water will steadily decrease since the demand remains fairly constant. These conditions will almost certainly result in a drought, which is a predicament that affects most regions around the globe to varying degrees, regardless of the socio-economic status of the inhabitants. In the past, the main weapon in the arsenal to combat natural phenomena like droughts was to just wait it out.
Today, many people are switching to greener options when it comes to their lifestyle. Collecting their own water from rainfall has become an effective new trend. People have found that recycling water can be beneficial, especially if they need to prepare for uncontrollable variables like droughts. When there is no rain to be captured, people are able to recycle water that they already use in their home.
Water saving measures are already becoming commonplace in many communities, like Xeriscaping, low-flush toilets, or hotels offering their guests the option to reuse towels and sheets during multi-night stays. These proactive activities, combined with frugality during periods of drought, can help to alleviate the severity and the impact on the public.
4. Human Conflict :
Controlling water is problematic in certain parts of the world. Corruption, political posturing, and armed conflict can all interfere with water reaching the majority of the population in these regions. Charities, religious groups, and united relief efforts led by other nations have attempted to offer aid, but the obstacles persist.
The chain of events put into motion from the lack of water is astonishing. Whether the scarcity is due to economic or physical reasons, residents in a region suffering from chronic water shortages are plunged into a nearly inescapable cycle of poverty and deprivation. Lack of water exacerbates conditions in a society that is already prone to illness.
Circumstances like dehydration and the general inability to adhere to basic hygiene and sanitation guidelines are direct results of the water scarcity epidemic, factoring into the spread of disease. Farming is not always an option because the technology to support irrigation is not widely available, and many of these struggling communities are located in climates where the weather alone is too unpredictable to produce enough food to sustain the locals.
Growing up without water can negatively impact a child’s education. Not only does sickness keep children from attending school regularly, but very often those same children are forced to miss school because they have to spend a good part of the day searching for water to bring home to their families. Rarely are these water sources nearby or even safe to drink. Once the disease riddled water is consumed, the children are again at risk.
Water is one of the most formidable forces in nature, able to cause untold damage in the form of a tsunami or flood. Yet, fresh water is a limited resource essential to the survival of the human race. There is a delicate balance that has been in play for millennia with mankind managing to survive and thrive while trying to harness the power of water.
However, there is still much that can be done to responsibly utilize the fresh water available on the planet to ensure that in this age of globalization and technological advances, everyone has access to clean water.