DB Brooks and J Linton

1 Friends of the Earth Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2 Dept. of Geography, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario Canada

Abstract. Limiting our demands for water is one of the best ways to reduce risk and increase security. The need for greater attention to water demand has come to be widely accepted over the past decade. However, it has not generally been considered in the context of natural disasters. This presentation looks at three time frames within which a role for reductions in demand for water can be explored: emergency (weeks to months) when the focus is on staying alive; medium term (next 10 to 20 years) when the focus is on efficiency of water services; and long term (beyond 20 years) when the focus is on sustainability. Reserve sectors and restrictions on use are appropriate for emergency situations. Conventional and extended forms of demand management are appropriate for the medium term. More transformative measures, which focus on changes in behaviour patterns and economic structure, are appropriate for the long term. These approaches make the efforts to reduce water demand less a choice of technology than a form of governance, and, therefore, all the elements of political economy come into play.

Keywords: Demand management, water security, emergency water, water soft paths 1. Introduction

This paper argues that the cheapest and longest lasting options to reduce risk and promote water security in modern society lie with reducing demands for water rather than increasing sources of supply. To the extent that a family, factory, or farm is dependent on large volumes of delivered water, so each is subject to risks in rough proportion to its dependence.

The concept underlying the argument is that water security is achieved less by technology and physical infrastructure than by social resilience in the face of hydrological challenges and economic losses that are mounting year by year (Kron, 2006). From this perspective, our approach fits comfortably with long-standing perspectives that sustainable water management depends critically on parallel efforts toward economic and gender equity and democratic decision-making, and more recent efforts to determine when water demand management does, or does not, support the same goals.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. e-mail: [email protected]

The disaster management literature does not generally address reductions in water use as a risk reduction strategy. Nor does demand reduction seem to be included in "non-structural" approaches to flood protection and sus-tainability (Kundzewicz, 2002). Some recent work, mainly in South Asia, focuses on shifting economies away from water dependent activities through diversification of livelihood strategies to include non-farm sources of income (Schreier et al., 2006), or even a complete shift away from farming (Moench and Dixit, 2004). These approaches can be useful, but they typically pose economic and social challenges that make them difficult to accept. Strategies to reduce water use can provide more easily implemented ways to improve water security.

We approach our task in three time frames:

1. Emergency (weeks to months), for which strategies to reduce demands for water are least relevant

2. Medium term (next 2 to 20 years), which is the reach of efficiency-focused water demand management (WDM)

3. Long term (beyond 20 years), which is the reach of an alternative approach to sustainable water planning known as the "water soft path" (WSP)

We will cite research results mainly from North America. Though this research will not be directly applicable elsewhere, it is indicative of what can be accomplished in all nations of moderate to high income. The conclusions can also be useful in lower income countries, but only if applied cautiously. Notably, in many semi-arid nations, significant reform of the irrigation sector will be necessary over the next couple of decades (Beaumont, 2002). However, irrigation and agriculture are so closely tied with culture, with lifestyles and with livelihoods that such measures cannot be considered without parallel efforts to promote social and economic equity.

Concepts of water demand management and of water soft paths are outlined in Section 2. Discussions of emergency, medium and longer time frames follow, respectively, in Sections 3, 4 and 5.

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Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness

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