is so abundant yet so scarce. A satellite photograph of Earth
highlights just how much of the surface of the planet is water.
What we see is more water than land. More than 97% of this water
is saltwater. Less than 1% of freshwater is usable. The majority
of freshwater is beyond our reach, locked into polar snow and
ice or inaccessible groundwater.
is increasing everywhere. The world’s six billion inhabitants
already appropriate 54% of all the accessible freshwater contained
in rivers, lakes and underground aquifers and by 2025 this will
rise to 70%! Global water consumption has risen almost tenfold
since 1900 and many parts of the world are now reaching the limits
of their supply. World population is expected to increase by 45%
in the next thirty years, whilst freshwater runoff is expected
to increase by 10%.
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has
predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide
problem. One third of the world’s population is already
facing problems due to both water shortage and poor drinking water
quality. A safe supply of water will be a major issue in the coming
decades. It will not only be a source of conflict within and between
countries but its lack will result in massive outbreaks of disease,
malnourishment and crop failure.
At a human
level the recommended basic water requirement per person per day
is 50 litres. But people can get by with about 30 litres: 5 litres
for drinking and cooking and another 25 to maintain hygiene. The
reality for millions comes nowhere near this. In Gambia the average
use per person is 4.5 litres per day; in Tanzania it is 10.1;
in Great Britain it is 200 and in the USA it is 500.
do humans need water for their survival but other species also
need it for theirs. Human activities have greatly modified the
water cycle, with far-reaching ecological and economic consequences.
Water is increasingly diverted from rivers or wetlands which upsets
the balance of the ecosytems involved. As well, in many parts
of the world, watercourses and aquifers are contaminated, and
here in Australia the danger of increased salination is very real.
Within Australia water reform comes under the umbrella, not just
of State and city/town, but also under the mandate of the Council
of Australian Governments (COAG), a body formed to “initiate,
develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms which
are of national significance and which require cooperative action”
of Australian Governments (COAG) - National Water Initiative
Internationalist magazine on-line
- World Water Assessment Programme
National - Earthbeat
For a personal
reflection on the global water crisis from a Christian perspective
are we going to use water wisely and effectively, while meeting
the needs of everyone, especially the poor, and
the right of all to safe water and sanitation? How are we going
to handle competing needs and prevent conflicts? How are we to
preserve the ecological function of water in the face of growing
strategies at global, national and state levels must
be established. Within the Australian context planning has already
begun. Many cities and towns have already water conservation and
use strategies in place.
- Planning for the future of our water resources
Water - Environment Plan
Water Resources Legislation
both NonGovernment Organisations (NGOs) and others, are concerned
about the present trend toward the ‘privatisation’
of water. This makes water just a commodity that can be traded,
whereas Catholic Social Teaching demands that water is seen to
be a common good. The Australian Government, as a partner in the
World Trade Organisation (WTO), is currently under pressure from
the European Union to treat water services purely as traded goods.
This would threaten most state governments’ policies of
public ownership and price regulation of water services to ensure
that they remain accessible and affordable to all Australians.
conversion must also be a challenge, especially for Australians
who live in a country with the lowest annual availability of freshwater.
It requires that we consider the land we live on and change our
attitudes towards our scarcest natural resource - water. If we
are to reduce the amount of water we use in order that future
generations may survive then we have to become aware of how much
water we use and change our water consumption patterns. Some websites
that could help in recognising the amount of water we use can
help our awareness of this. Some have ways of decreasing our use
and changing our ideas about what is appropriate for the Australian
landscape, e.g. our historical use of green lawns and European
flowers when other varieties might be much less water-consuming.
It is a well documented fact that in residential areas the two
places where the most water is used are the bathroom and the garden.
Use of Water - Are you a Waterholic?
savewater.com.au (Australia's leading source on water conservation)
the world there will be significant events to highlight the
IYFW (updated July 2005).