|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Ecology Social activities Population Water|
Human activities cause a myriad of threats to our drinking water resources. The degradation of ecosystems is one of the most adverse risks faced, as it happens due to landscape changes. The changes include the growth of cities and infrastructure, mining, and agriculture. As the land use and cover changes, the water balance and the processes that control water quality changes, thereby leading to artificial methods of treatment before consumption. However, in a landscape changed by human activity, it ought not to be astounding that the water we drink contains both compound and natural toxins (Christopherson, 2013). This phenomenon is because our reality is subject to the expanding chemical marvels of our industrial, agricultural, and pharmaceutical-based society, which helps bolster a developing population. An expanding populace, thus, contaminates water assets from the utilization and creation of consumer goods, plant and livestock production, and human waste disposal. This ever-expanding population and contamination implies that normally unadulterated wellsprings of drinking water are practically extinct.
Primary Sources of Drinkable Water
A water source is a term used to imply a place where people get their water and also the water's origin. There are three primary sources of water: groundwater, surface water, and rainwater. In arid regions, however, there is another potential source of drinking water, where salty water is desalinated to produce water safe for human consumption.
Groundwater is water found underground within layers of rocks known as aquifers and is extracted from wells, boreholes, or collected from springs. The aquifers are replenished by rain and other forms of precipitation such as snow and hail that fall on the earth's surface and then percolates downwards into them through tiny spaces in the porous rocks. Surface water sources are bodies of water found above ground. They include lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and wetlands (WWF, 2013). Their quantity also varies with rainfall, thus leading to fluctuations all year round. The quality of surface water is also variable, thus needing treatment to make it safe for drinking and domestic use. In regions where rainfall is abundant, rainwater is used as a good source of water supply for individuals, families, and communities. In areas where the frequency of rainfall is relatively low, rainwater is harvested as it runs off from hard surfaces and stored in tanks or cisterns.
The Increase in Water Demand
Freshwater is a scarce and limited resource. Of all the water available on the planet, 97% is salty water. Of the 3% freshwater available, 22% is located in aquifers underground, as 77% of it is locked in glaciers. Thus, only 1% is easily accessible. Besides, the increase in the human population, among other challenges such as climate change, land-use changes, energy production, and industrialization have all contributed to the rise in the demand for water while the supplies decrease. Most areas in the world that are water-stressed are typically those with few water resources, but also have high population densities and population growth rates, and where the amount of water per person is highly limited.
Industrial production accounts for a significant amount of water for processing, cooling, and removal of waste products. Its demand for water is increasing due to population growth, increases in incomes, and consumer behavioral changes. A growing population also requires more food. Thus population growth will significantly increase global food demand in the coming decades. Agriculture, on the other hand, is responsible for around 70% of all freshwater use. Therefore, an increase in crop and livestock production will, in turn, increase pressure on the already scarce water resource. As populations grow, urbanization, as well as climate change, will be more prevalent in the world, in turn, leading to more pressure on water resources. Albeit worldwide residential and urban utilization of water represents a humble level of the all the accessible water, it is apparent that quick populace development, urbanization, and climate change could open more individuals to water deficiencies. In this manner, prompting unfriendly consequences for employment, security, and well-being.
Impacts of Water Scarcity
Water scarcity is the mismatch between the demand and the availability of freshwater resources. The imbalance in the water-population equation strains society leads to social, political, economic, and environmental effects.
These are the impacts of water shortages on human welfare. They affect institutions and groups differently. In low-income households and communities, for example, which lack the disposable income to purchase bottled water or food, the inadequacy of clean water leads to a disruption of their day to day lives. For the well-off households and groups, a reduction in water impacts may be in terms of swimming pools and golf course disruptions (Meier 1977). However, as livelihoods are affected, rural-urban migration occurs as rural, and often poor populations, look for reliable sources of income and employment opportunities in urban centers. A lack of access to clean water may also cause vulnerable communities to be exposed to water-borne diseases, thus compromising their health (Vitkovic 2015).
Lack of water leads to reduced agricultural production and an increase in the importation of food, as water that may have been previously available for irrigation is withdrawn. A reduction in food production, will, in turn, lead to food security threatening the survival of both human and animal populations. Energy production difficulties are also attributed to the economic impacts of increased demand for water, as many economies in the world depend on hydroelectric power generation. The absence of freshwater can likewise influence laborer profitability by causing diseases, and higher water costs for people can lessen family disposable incomes. These changes may lead to a change in the gross domestic product of individual countries and an increase in inflation(Vitkovic 2015).
An increase in the demand for freshwater has destroyed wetlands. Wetlands serve as a habitat for a variety of species and are cultivation points for crops such as rice, a staple food for a significant population of earth. They provide a range of beneficial ecosystem services such as flood control, recreation, and water filtration. The increased demand for water has also resulted in the pollution of natural landscapes such as lakes, thereby resulting in the ecosystem destruction (WWF).
In the Middle East and North African states, for example, there is a long-standing expectation by the public for the government to provide subsidies on food and water. These subsidies are, however, non-efficient, and the political stability of this region heavily relies on governments to implement adequate and sustainable water-management practices. Also, the use of water resources that share borders, such as the Nile river continues to cause political unrest. Such countries cannot agree whether freshwater is a universal human right or a privilege that should be owned, controlled, and allocated by the countries which share them (Stuckenberg 2018).
Christopherson, R. W. (2013). Elemental geosystems.
Meier, W., L. (1977): Identification of Economic and Societal Impacts of Water Shortages. National Academic Press. Purdue University. Page 87-88.
Population Action International, (2012): Why population matters to water resources. Healthy Families, Healthy Planet. Retrieved on March 25, 2020, from pai.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/PAI-1293-WATER-4PG.pdf
Stuckenberg, D., J. (2018): Water Scarcity: The Most Underrated Global Security Risk. National Security Journal. Harvard Law School. Retrieved on March 25, 2020, from harvardnsj.org/2018/05/water-scarcity-the-most-understated-global-security-risk/
Vitkovic, S. (2015): The Economic and Social Impacts of Water Scarcity in Iran. ResearchGate. Retrieved on March 25, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324133437_The_Economic_and_Social_Impacts_of_Water_Scarcity_in_Iran
WWF, (2013): Water Scarcity Threat. Retrieved on March 25, 2020, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity
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