All About Water Shortages: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Today, we take a look at the causes, effects, and solutions of water shortages worldwide. We also look closely at the problems facing California. While we will try to explain why water shortages are expected to be such a widespread problem in the future, we will admit from the start that without focused efforts and deep social and political change, things will not solve by themselves. So is there an issue with water scarcity in the world and the United States? Yes, and it is getting worse.


What Should You Know about Worldwide Water Shortages?

As we all know, 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, yet only 3% is fit for human consumption. The rest is salty or frozen.

According to a report released by WWF, about 1.1 billion people face water shortages around the world. The report also indicates that 2.7 billion people experience the problem of water shortage in at least one month every year. This implies that the water shortage problem is a real one, affecting around 27% of the world’s population.

In the same report it has been projected that by 2025, two-thirds of all people will suffer from water shortages across the globe, with ecosystems taking the biggest hits.

With the worldwide population increasing at a rate of 1.13% or 80 million people every year,  nations need to take action to solve a problem that will only worsen.

Today, we are going to look at the causes, solutions, and effects of water shortages. We will also pay special attention to the problems faced closer to home, and more specifically,  California. We shall discuss the drought that is currently being experienced there, the effects of this, and what we do to solve the problem.

What Are the Causes of Water Shortages?

Let’s discuss the causes of water shortages, although, at some level, we all know what they are. According to scientists, water shortages or water scarcity

May be caused by climate change, such as altered weather patterns including droughts or floods, increased pollution, and increased human demand and overuse of water. A water crisis is a situation where the available potable, unpolluted water within a region is less than that region’s demand.

So let’s discuss in short the main causes of water shortages and why the United States is facing a looming water crisis.


1. Pollution

Pollution is a major cause of water shortage. Water is polluted when industrial wastes are deposited into water bodies thus making it unfit for human consumption. Oil spillage and fecal matter also contaminate the water, together with pesticides, heavy metals, PFAS, VOCs, and all the common water contaminants we talk about when we create our guides on whole house water filters, reverse osmosis, and many other types of water filtration devices.

Polluted water is not safe for human consumption and can actually be deadly – as we had to learn the hard way from the lead-induced Flint water crisis. When it comes to safe drinking water standards, the E.P.A and our politicians have to tackle this issue as soon as possible. One step forward was the E.P.A.’s new take on the lead in water:

The E.P.A. has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human consumption.

The discussion on water pollution is long and hot, but there is no doubt it leads to major water shortages around the world and the United States.

2. Overuse of Water

When we overuse water, it is a fact that water shortages occur. Some people use too much water, especially for irrigation purposes. It, therefore, becomes inadequate for other equally important uses. Agriculture is one of the biggest water consumers. On a residential level, landscaping and lawn irrigations are some of the most critical factors leading to water overuse.

 3. Water Waste

Wastage of water is also a major cause of water shortages. Some people leave their taps running even when they are not fetching water. Even if they don’t, we waste hundreds and hundreds of water each year just by turning the tap and waiting for hot water to arrive so we can take a bath or a shower. Besides installing hot water recirculating pumps and tankless water heaters, we do have plenty of means to reduce water waste in our homes by making just a few lifestyle changes.

All the water we waste is lost forever unless we learn how to save it, reuse it, and how to make the best out of it in an efficient manner. Otherwise, the resulting problem is the lack of enough water.


4. Drought

When drought strikes an area, there is usually no rain for a long period of time. This makes rivers to dry. Other water sources such as streams, ponds, e.t.c also dry up. People, therefore, do not have enough water for domestic and industrial use. Drought is a serious issue, related to climate change among others, and leading to severe consequences, including water shortages, land erosion, famine, illnesses, and even war.


5. Conflict

Conflict contributes to water shortages in areas and vice versa. When people are fighting over control of water sources like rivers, some will not have access to it. If you take a look around, you will see that water scarcity, conflict, and war are in a tight relationship. From Nepal to Pakistan and from Eritrea to Qatar, the lack of water can generate atrocities the western world is too busy to notice.

6. Distance

In some areas, especially arid regions, people stay far away from oasis and other sources of water like boreholes. Traveling there takes a lot of time. It is also a burden to carry water from such distant places to homes. This discourages them from going to fetch water. The result is a water shortage.

7. Restriction by Governments

Some governments, especially those that govern by dictatorship, may restrict citizens from accessing certain water sources. If you think such a thing could never happen to us, think again. The wars of the future, according to scientists and political experts, will not focus on resources such as oil, but on water.

Scientists, the United Nations, and world governments have been sounding the alarm about water-related conflict for years. In 2012, the US Director of National Intelligence said the risk of conflict would grow as water demand is set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40% by 2030.


8. Destruction of Water Catchment Areas

 Water catchment areas, such as forests, are continually being destroyed through deforestation to pave way for human settlement. This problem has been brought about by a rapid population increase. As a result, there is not enough rain thus causing water shortage.

What Are the Effects of Water Shortages?

A lack of water affects more than just your physical health. Let’s see how drought can affect us in other ways.

Lack of adequate drinking water

Water is important to our health. When there is a water shortage, people lack enough clean water to drink. In turn, this leads to illnesses, death, and conflicts.

Lack of education

When there is a water shortage in an area, children often abandon school to help their parents look for water. Some of them grow too weak to go to school. Water poverty is closely linked to school abandonment, social, economic, and political crises and you only have to look at a couple of countries in Africa and Asia to understand the magnitude of the situation.


Water shortage makes it difficult to grow crops especially in dry areas that depend on irrigation. When crops are dying, there won’t be enough food for people.

Diseases and Parasites

Water is used for different domestic purposes including bathing. When there is a shortage, people may not bath. Their bodies will be dirty hence susceptible to infection by diseases and attacks by parasites.

Sanitation Problems

The lack of enough water makes cleaning of dishes, clothes, and other household items difficult. They will remain dirty and unhygienic. This will have a negative effect on the health of an individual.

What About the Water Shortage Solutions?

We’ve discussed the causes, and mentioned some of the effects. But more importantly, how can we act to prevent water shortages? The solutions are simple, but often affected by bureaucracy and vested interests of big business and government.

– People should receive education on the benefits of conserving water and how to save water every day without trading any personal comfort, just making lifestyle changes.

– We should enact laws to prevent water pollution. Those found polluting water should pay a fine or face imprisonment. It is true that we made some progress with this in the past years, but is it enough?

– People should receive encouragement and state/community support to recycle rain water.

– Farmers should receive sustainable and actionable support to adopt sustainable farming practices that use less water.

– Water catchment areas should enter preservation programs.

– People should contribute funds to support clean water initiatives especially in areas that face water shortages.

The Water Shortages and Drought in California


California has been experiencing a long period of drought. Experts say that the situation is expected to continue. This condition has cost the economy of California close to $2.7 billion.

The drought has been caused by a lack of rain and snowfall for more than 5 years. This has led to the drying up of Colorado River that supplies water to California and 7 other  states.

The California drought and water problems have caused the destruction of flora and fauna life. It has also led to the spread of the West Nile virus that has negatively affected the health of the local population. Furthermore, wildfires have been on increase thus destroying forests and other plants. This has made the situation worse. On top of that, the population of ducks and gees has reduced due to River Colorado’s slow but imminent death.

In an attempt to control water scarcity which has been caused by drought, the state government of California has ordered towns and cities to cut on their water use by 36%. Those who defy the order will pay a fine.

Luckily, the El Nino storms which have acted to restore Golden State reservoirs to more acceptable levels. Water restrictions are now looser, but for how long? Though rainfall was lower than what meteorologists predicted, the El Nino storms did produce above-average rain and snow for the first time in five years.

Making the Right Changes Involves Us All

However, California’s water crisis is nowhere near its end. On the contrary, it deepens. Luckily, as specialists report, California is taking the right and the much necessary steps to prevent or at least alleviate the consequences of severe climate change effects on the region and update its water grid. Here is what experts in the field report:

Managing water will be at the forefront of climate change adaptation in California. By all measures, climate change is happening now, making action even more urgent. California has the know-how and financial capacity to prepare its water system for future droughts. But all the knowledge and money in the world will not work without leadership to build coalitions, craft compromises and make tough choices. Leadership at all levels will be the essential ingredient for success.

Water Shortages, Droughts, and Water Crises: Bottom Line

No matter how we look at things, the situation looks dire from all angles. On one hand, we have serious water pollution problems that we don’t manage yet correctly or at all. The latest statistics show that millions of Americans are still drinking contaminated water from sources that violate the minimal health standards. There is no wonder why water filters have become the logical solution to prevent diseases and death.

On the other hand, states like Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and others have to live through droughts, climate change severe effects, and water infrastructure decay.

The only solution here is concentrated effort from the powers that be, NGOs, and the civil society to make a sustainable change until things get beyond repair.

Here at Water Filter Answers, we specialize in providing information and guides on the whole house and reverse osmosis water filters. Our most popular pages are our review comparisons of both reverse osmosis and whole house filters. We are here to deliver information and data regarding the use of such water filtering solutions to keep you healthy and aware of the major environmental issues that we all have to face and live through every day.

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Hi I'm Jamie, teacher and owner/chief contributor at We strive to bring you the most informative water filter reviews in the most intuitive and user friendly way. Besides offering advice on the water filter to suit your needs, we also post topical articles on water pollution and the environment. Stay connected and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more!

  1. I live in Southern CA, we have very hard water contaminated with pesticides, I am sensitive to fluoride, our water services use way too much chloramine and chlorine. I have used an R/O system for years and like the taste of R/O water but realize I need the minerals. I have moved and just purchased a SubZero fridge with internal water dispenser and filter. I cannot find what they actually filter out but they “don’t recommend” sending R/O water through the fridge (although they have changed that from “DON’T DO IT” to “WELL IF YOU MUST…”). I don’t want to bathe in any of these contaminants even more than I don’t want to ingest them. I am remodeling a 40+ year old house and will be adding a whole house system but not replacing ALL the pipes (many of them are now PEX but I don’t think they all will be). Would you suggest Aquasana Rhino with water softener and UV filter? I am not sure I really have almost 6 feet of wall space in the garage for this system unless I mounted it above head height… ANY RECOMMENDATIONS PLEASE? Thank You! T

  2. Hi,

    With regards to the RO system, it would really be the best option for removing fluoride, chlorine, chloramines, and pesticides. I realize that this wouldn’t fix your bathing water problem though. You can add a remineralization filter to the RO system to add healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium back to the water.

    Did SubZero say why they don’t recommend putting RO water through the fridge? I can’t imagine why this would be an issue.

    The Aqusana Rhino would do a good job at removing chlorine, but it wouldn’t be ideal for the fluoride. The built-in softener is also salt-free. This means that it is more of a water conditioner than a traditional water softener. It will protect your appliances from scale, but won’t actually make the water less soapy to the touch. I’m not sure if this might be an issue for you.

    Though the Aqusana Rhino system is large, it is quite compact in comparison to installing separate filter, softener, and UV systems.


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  4. I have to deeply agree because pollution hurts earth’s environment and plants and animals who live in water like Sharks, Alligators and many many more.

  5. ifell so bad for them we need more water f0or them

  6. This was very intresting!

  7. can have more example

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