Freshwater availability shrinking as we make perverse decisions

Globally, around 80 percent of freshwater is used for food production and agriculture. Out of all the water covering the earth, only 2 percent is fresh. That remaining 10 to 20 percent is set aside for industry.

Urban Africa, with ever expanding populations, already suffer food scarcity. Many have to exist on as little as twenty litres of water per day. The bare minimum recommended by public health is twice that.

Where water provision is piped to homes, lack of quality drinking water never need happen if water companies get on top of their numerous leak problems due to poorly directed investment. First World countries lose between 16 and 40 percent through leakage.

Recently, Jackson, capital of Mississippi, suffered severe flooding which crippled their already faltering water plant infrastructure, neglected for decades. See

Lack of investment in sewage systems also led to the UK water companies being legally allowed to release sewage into the sea this year.

Climate change is impacting the freshwater accessibility at a rapid pace. Anthropogenic induced warming has accelerated temperatures such that the Himalayas (glacial loss impacted the monster flooding in the Indus Valley) will lose 40 percent of ice by 2100. We have relied on glaciers to store our global freshwater. Once the glaciers melt, widespread water shortages will occur in places like Peru and California.

We already see drought hitting the people stranded in the Horn of Africa. The images of their slow and painful deaths through lack of food and water is made worse by wars in the world making them victims of extreme events.

In Asia alone, it is likely a billion people will be facing water shortages….and the World Bank estimated cities around the world will have two thirds less water to supply to their citizens.

Phoenix in the US and London in the UK are already in emergency planning mode.

200,000 people die each year in India due to little or no access to clean drinking water. It is estimated by 2030 the country will lose half of the water it currently relies on.

Pakistan had 5,000 cubic meters for its population when the country was newly formed in 1947. It now has 400 maximum.

Freshwater lakes are drying up around the world. See

Where countries have relied on their reservoirs, they too see them drying up with insufficient rainfall predicted in coming years to ever replenish them. See this US situation:

Freshwater lakes are also vulnerable to climate-fuelled aquatic plant growth which will further the vicious cycle of warming as these plants will emit 16 percent of the world’s natural emissions. See:

Drinking water has become a luxury in Lebanon where they host the greatest numbers of migrants from Syria in the world. See

When freshwater lakes become full of warmwater-friendly bacteria, millions who sought that safe water over past centuries could no longer do so. Fish which swam in abundance die – a mainstay food for local people, and a business for many too.

Aquifers took millions of years to develop, but in our urgency to supply ourselves with water, we are draining them. Wells which once drew water from a depth of 500 ft need DRILLING down to 1000 ft.

In our fossil fuel rush for as much as we can find, fracking drills into and poisons that frail supply of drinking water.

21 cities in India have depleted their groundwater supplies. Here is an article about 10 of them:

Shortages of food and water push people into desperate measures.

We knew this was coming yet governments (often lobbied and funded by corporations) have not worked globally to prevent this worsening situation.

Instead they ‘plan for growth’ and promise ‘green alternatives’ but that greening more likely comes in the form of more algae blooms on our rivers and fresh water lakes.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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