We take a look at the causes, effects and solutions of water shortages worldwide. We also look closely at the problems facing California.
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 shortage in 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, which affects around 27% of the world’s population.
With worldwide population increasing at a rate of 1.13% or 80 million people every year, nations need to take action to solve a problem which will only worsen.
Today, we are going to look at the causes, solutions and effects of water shortage. 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 is being done to solve the problem.
So what are the causes of water shortage?
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 makes the water contaminated. It cannot be used for drinking. This makes it scarce.
2. Overuse of Water
When water is overused, shortage occurs. Some people use too much water especially for irrigation purposes. It therefore becomes inadequate for other equally important uses.
3. Water Wastage
Wastage of water is also a major cause of water shortage. Some people leave their taps running even when they are not fetching water. All this is lost to the ground. The resultant problem is lack of enough water.
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.
Conflict contributes to water shortages in areas. When people are fighting over control of water sources like rivers, some will not have access to it.
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 water shortage.
7. Restriction by Governments
Some governments especially those that govern by dictatorship may restrict citizens from accessing certain water sources.
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 rapid population increase. As a result, there is not enough rain thus causing water shortage.
What Are the Effects of Water Shortage?
A lack of water affects more than just 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 shortage, people lack enough clean water to drink.
– Lack of education
When there is 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 shortage makes it difficult to grow crops especially in dry areas that depend on irrigation. When crops are not planted, there won’t be enough food for people.
– Diseases and Parasites
Water is used for different domestic purposes including bathing. When there is shortage, people may not bath. Their bodies will be dirty hence susceptible to infection by diseases and attack by parasites.
– Sanitation Problems
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 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 be educated on the benefits of conserving water.
– Laws should be enacted to prevent water pollution. Those found polluting water should pay a fine or face imprisonment.
– People should be encouraged to recycle rain water.
– Farmers should be encouraged to adopt farming practices that use less water.
– Water catchment areas should be preserved.
– People should contribute funds to support clean water initiatives especially in areas that face water shortage.
The 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 lack of rain and snowfall for more than 3 years. This has led to the drying up of Colorado River that supplies water to California and 7 other states.
The California drought has caused destruction of flora and fauna life. It has also led to spread of West Nile virus that has negatively affected the health of local population. Furthermore, wild fires 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 drying up.
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 are has been blessed by recent El Nino storms which have acted to restore Golden State reservoirs to more acceptable levels. Water restrictions are being loosened, 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.
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