Imagine for a moment spending 6 hours of your day, every day, collecting the water your household will consume in containers. Imagine the day when you open your tap to fill the kettle, and no water comes out, or when your toilet needs to be sealed up because there is nothing but air in the pipes.
That day may not be as far off as you think, and some people are already there – and they don’t even have access to a casino online where they could win a jackpot and change their situation. But in a way, it also comes down to more than money; cities around the world are already under such severe pressure that citizens are being restricted to using less water than what is consumed by an average person’s shower. That is 50 litres per person per day for every need you have, coffee, cooking, personal hygiene and household cleanliness, all with the water you would normally use in a single eight-minute shower.
A Global Concern
The truth is that globally, experts have been aware of a growing water crisis around the world, but very few nations have answered the call to address this issue. Much like Cape Town, one of South Africa’s major cities on the brink of running out of drinking water for its citizens, water scarcity is a problem that is likely to start affecting many major cities across the world.
Sao Paulo went through a similar crisis to Cape Town in 2015, when their reservoirs dropped to below 4% and they had to start trucking water into the city under escort, so it wouldn’t be looted.
Of the fresh water available in Bangalore India, over 85% is unsuitable for human consumption due to pollution from the massive influx of people and buildings, and the city’s failing piping systems. The city loses as much as 65% of its useable water due to damaged infrastructure, and is unable to keep pollutants out of the city’s lakes and fresh water supply.
Beijing, one of the most populous cities in the world, supplied 20 million of its citizens with 145 cubic meters of water instead of the 1000 cubic meter minimum. With China housing 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of the earth’s fresh water supply, population growth will continue to put the supply under pressure.
Cairo is expected to have major supply problems by 2025, as 97% of their drinking water comes from the Nile, which is being badly affected by household and agricultural waste, and Mexico City residents have access to running water for only a few hours a week. The water problem is widespread, and it’s growing.
Hunger, Disease and Economic Growth
The consequences of water scarcity reaches much further than one would imagine; a water crisis, a health crisis, a nutrition crisis, an economic crisis and an environmental crisis are all part and parcel.
Even though 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only 3% of it is fresh, and of this, only about two-thirds are available for our use. Most of our fresh water use is for agricultural purposes and as populations increase, so too does the demand for food. Crop and meat production require masses of water to meet the requirements, and without enough fresh water the agricultural sector will not be able to meet the consumption requirements, resulting in food shortages.
At present there are over a million deaths caused by sanitation related diseases, and we will see this increase as water shortages increase.
Time spent collecting water directly affects economies as people become less economically active due to time constraints, resulting in little or no contribution to a city’s solvency.
The Environmental Consequences
The effect on the environment is even greater as drought stricken areas are more prone to flooding and loss of land when rain does eventually come. The uncontrolled use of water from aquifers through unregulated borehole access has also caused water tables to drop faster than they can be replenished by natural rainfall, the result? Sinking land mass as the aquifers below are unable to support the weight of the ground above. This has been linked to increased seismic activity, which further damages the very pipes that supply water, and has led to many cities dropping below sea level, putting them at risk of coastal flooding.
There are solutions, most of which are aimed at slowing climate change and finding ways to access alternative water supplies but these take time, resources and effort, while in the meantime the planet keeps demanding more, and supplies keep dwindling.