Four things are conspiring to make fresh water one of the most valuable commodities in the twenty-first century:
1 increasing world populations;
2 climate change;
3 man's ever increasing interference with the natural flow of water;
In 1990 the World Health Organization estimated that 1230 million people did not have access to adequate drinking water. By 2000 this figure was estimated to have risen by 900 million people. Add to this already chronic problem the devastating impacts of climate change and the results can be catastrophic, even in the most developed countries in the world. On top of these issues comes another: the increasing household demand for water around the world. In England and Wales alone household water use is predicted to increase by 10-20 per cent between 1990 and 2021 under a medium-growth scenario without climate change. Per capita demand for domestic water is predicted to rise owing to the projected increase in use of dishwashers and other domestic appliances, with a further increase of 4 per cent with climate change owing to higher use of personal showers and garden watering. Demand for spray irrigation of crops in Britain is predicted to rise by 115 per cent with climate change between 1990 and 2021, with most irrigation water taken from rivers and groundwater.
This increasing demand for water can be met either by increasing the capacity of supply (e.g. by building new reservoirs), by reducing the consumption of water or by re-using water where we can.
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