Water is one of the largest issues regarding sustainably. It not only affects poorer nations such as Africa in the Sahara, but even the richest most powerful countries suffer, illustrated in California, USA, and Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Climate change and population increases is the significant drivers of this, and this is slowly being recognised through large individual powers such as Barack Obama, although is still not identified by others such as UKIP’s Nigel Farage…
“But wait a minute, we have water, therefore climate change doesn’t exist”
California is currently experiencing its worst drought in over 1,200 years, with over 40 million people being affected, as this drought has continued for 4 years. In one of the most powerful and richest countries, you would expect that it would be easily manageable, however the force of nature is proving its worth. Scientists estimate that many reservoirs only have enough water remaining to last for only 1 year.
Australia is again a hugely rich and resourceful country, however it is also suffering with water sustainability, with the Murray-Darling Basin supplying 2 million people. With the basin generating more than 40% of GDP for Australian agricultural production, having enough resources is principal to the future of Australia’s economic system.
So what are they doing?
California’s governor Jerry Brown has introduced a water rationing scale, with the aim to reduce usage by 25%, with communication being structured predominantly to focus on homeowners, and for them to reduce their usage of sprinklers. However, the only effective, reliable and sustainable way to reduce water is to change people’s attitudes on water consumption.
Australian government is taking a slightly more serious approach, with the aim to reduce water consumption between 30 – 40%. The Murray-Darling Basin is primarily full of farming land, and the Government has been able to reduce some dairy farmers consumption from 100% down to 30%, with them still producing as much milk as they were before. Other farmers have also adjusted to deal with the water restrictions, with orchards imposing a scheme which automatically makes the trees adjust to ‘drought-years’ so they use half as much water, alongside the development of drought-resistant trees.
All areas will soon be suffering from water shortages as temperature increases; precipitation becomes more unpredictable and extreme (in both directions). The only real way to influence our water consumption is through changing of views and opinions through media releases and informed discussions between high government ministers leading to a inter-country or even global plan to support our current water levels.
I also want to assess the possibility of a sustainable technological method to solve this issue (in my dreams). Is it possible to simply map the world with current storage of fresh water in glaciers, aquifers and lakes, and then work out a software which can calculate infiltration, surface run-off and interception of areas to not only map the amount of water that is available, but also reduce the hazard of floods?