Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


World water decade ends – Problems of global water supply stay


The World Water Day on March 22 marks the end of the UN-Decade „Water for Life” the goal of which was to improve the water supply worldwide. But access to clean water and sufficient amounts of industrial water has remained a big challenge in spite of all efforts – and this does not just apply to arid agricultural regions but also to cities. Especially in megacities with annually up to 300,000 new inhabitants the pressure on the resource is increasing. Water experts from ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research demonstrate how it is possible for cities to handle water shortage and reduce user conflicts.

Worldwide water demand is increasing fast. The consequences are well known: many groundwater reserves are already overexploited, more and more regions are suffering from water shortage and the contamination of natural water resources is causing considerable risks for health and environment. Conflicts over the limited resource are starting to emerge. In 2025, according to estimates of the UNESCO, two thirds of the world population could be affected by water shortage.

Reducing the per capita consumption in spite of a growing population

Having access to clean water is a human right according to the UN. But how can this right be sustainably put into effect considering the growing population and dwindling resources? “If we continue to handle the situation as we have up to now: increasing demand – increasing supply, then we will increase the pressure on the already strained water resources” says Stefan Liehr, head of the research unit “Water Resources and Land Use”.

The supply cannot be endlessly increased as the water reserves on planet earth are not unlimited. “Instead of tapping more and more new water resources with disastrous consequences for humans and the environment we have to develop safe and sustainable strategies that will reduce the per capita consumption.”

Water demand prognoses can determine saving potentials

In order to reduce the per capita consumption, we first have to find out where relevant saving potentials are located. “For this endeavor there already exists a powerful instrument that has hardly been used up to now”, says Liehr. “With water demand prognoses we can develop a differentiated picture of water usage and can precisely assess what kind of demand we are facing and what saving potentials we may expect.” Possible conflicts over water usage are thus also becoming apparent at an early stage.”

The prognoses are based on assumptions on plausible, social, economic, and technical developments with respect to future demand. They provide the basis for future scenarios which allow to deduct priorities for concrete measures for households, the economy and urban development.

Recommendations for efficient measures in the field of water supply

“Meanwhile we dispose of very good water saving technologies and now we know very well how to handle drinking and industrial water in an economic manner – particularly with the help of water treatment and reuse”, says water researcher Liehr. According to him, what is missing is knowledge concerning the actual water demand and water consumption in cities: How much water is required by whom and for what purpose?

For example, how high is the share of necessary drinking water for households compared to the water demand of small trade? What role is the specific structure of industrial branches playing for the overall demand? And in which areas is drinking water q
uality not required but reclaimed water can be used instead.

The same water can be used twice or three times. After having been treated it can be used in households – for example for flushing the toilets – as well as in industry. It can further be used for the irrigation of green areas or the restauration of rivers. Recommendations for such differentiated ways of usage can be worked out based on water demand prognoses.

“There is a huge potential for saving water considering the number of inhabitants in megacities”, says Liehr. But obviously water demand prognoses are only a first step. The political decision makers have to make use of the results and recommendations by developing strategies for a sustainable and safe water supply, the ISOE-researcher is pointing out.

Nicola Schuldt-Baumgart
ISOE - Institute for Social-Ecological Research
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-30

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
The ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research is a leading non-commercial and non-academic institute for sustainability research. For 25 years, the Institute has been developing scientific basics for future-orientated concepts for politics civil society and economy – regionally, nationally and internationally. Among its research topics are water, energy, climate protection, mobility, urban spaces, biodiversity, as well as population dynamics and supply.

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Nicola Schuldt-Baumgart | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>