“Water, water, everywhere/not a drop to drink.” These lines by Samuel Taylor Coleridge might just turn out to be true if the existing outlook of people doesn’t change. The earth’s surface is covered with water, however most of this is saline water which can only be used after desalination. But desalination is an expensive method due to high energy consumption. Thus, conservation and sustainable use of water resources is imperative for the continuity of life on earth. Water scarcity would drastically change the environment along with our lives. Global water scarcity is expected to become a leading cause of political conflict in the future.
A recent UN report states that the world could suffer a 40 per cent water shortfall in just 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource. The report predicts global water demand will increase 55 per cent by 2050, while reserves dwindle. If current usage trends don’t change, the world will have only 60 per cent of the water it needs in 2030.
Many underground reserves are already running low, while rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change. As the world’s population grows to an unexpected 9 billion by 2050, more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry and personal consumption. Climatic change is expected to make the situation worse, as higher temperatures and more erratic weather patterns could disrupt rainfall.
Unsustainable development pathways and governance failures have affected the quality and availability of water resources. In many countries, water use is largely unregulated and often wasteful. Pollution of water is often ignored and unpunished. Industries like paper pulp and chemical industries contribute to water pollution. This is another cause of water scarcity. In some places water gets polluted to an extent that it is rendered useless and is unfit for utilization even after treatment. Modern ways of living have led to an increase in wastage of water. These days, people tend to take long showers, wash their cars with a hose and go to a carwash when cleaning their car with a bucket of water can suffice.
Increasing awareness among people apropos water conservation is an imperative step towards water conservation. Communities need to rethink water policies and strive towards more conservation as well as recycling of water, as is done in Singapore. It is imperative that people take steps to conserve water, or else the world will face an increasingly severe water deficit.