Can better water governance between citizen, state and business solve the scarcity crisis?
By Philip Monaghan
Water is essential to our survival. It makes up between half and three quarters of the human body weight, needs to be topped up on a regular basis and we cannot go without it for more than about week. As well as drinking it, we also use water for cooking and sanitation, not to mention industrial processes. But more often than not in the West, we treat it with disdain, a fact reflected in its low price and how the developed world fritters it away (you may leave the kitchen tap running into an unplugged sink at home but you would not pour petrol from the station pump down the drain).
What makes matters worse is, despite 70% of the Earth’s surface being covered by water, only 2.5% of the total volume is freshwater resources and fit for human consumption. Coupled with the facts from the WBCSD and FAO that in 60% of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.