Water Crisis in Cities
WaterCrisis in Cities
Wateris one of the core human necessities, which every individual ought tohave easy access to all through their lives. However, as a result ofclimatic changes – such as global warming – nations from all over theglobe have been experiencing water crises, key among them being waterscarcity. Eco Watch reported an expected shortage of water in thenext fifteen years from the year 2015, the most affected areas beingthe arid areas and the global places that experience water depletion.Such areas – key among them being Chile, Botswana and even some ofthe world’s biggest economies such as China – are also expected toexperience water stress by 2040 (Maddocks, Young & Reig 1). Inaddition, a report published by Eco Watch in 2012 – after carryingout research on 405 water sources all over the globe – indicated thatat least 2.7 billion people from all over the world are faced withwater crisis every month (Spear, 1). The problem of wateravailability and allocation has taken global proportions withprojections showing that a third of world population is unable toaccess adequate and clean water(Huang & Zhou 380). Water crisis results to devastating effects all over the globe suchas a reduction in world food due to decreased agricultural activitiesand even deaths among animals, plants, and even people due to lack ofwater to quench their thirst. However, most cities are facingshortages of water as the earth’s atmosphere changes due to humanactivities. Climates change influences availability and distributionof water systems. Political pressures and economic activitiesinfluence the actions of countries pushing them to water and foodscarcity. The water crisis in various global cities is as analyzedbelow.
Wateris indispensable in supporting life on earth. The problems that comewith availability and allocation of potable water in variouscountries have been examined by policy makers and activists. Thewater crisis is the most severe dimension of ecological devastationon earth. The scarcity of good water is a result of the corporateexploitation of the natural resources such as forests, which actnatural water reservoirs (Huang,and Zhou 380). Deforestation and corporate exploitation and mining have reducedwater conservation capacity in catchment areas. With disrupted watercycle and ever growing population, the problem of water scarcity willpersist and devastate local ecosystems such as continuous droughts(‘The Water Cycle and Climate Change’ 1).
InLatin America, provision of water has been affected by urbanizationand social power. The water crisis has expanded from countries inAsia to other countries. Cities in North America have the challengeof deteriorating water supply infrastructures and environmentalconditions, hence, resulting to water rationing among 9 millionresidents of Sao Paulo, Brazil (Nikolau). The increased level ofwater rationing is one of the ways in which Latin America is copingwith droughts as, despite the region receiving 30% rainfall, wateravailability is uneven and seasonal. Water scarcity in the region canbe attributed to poor governance and rapid urbanization this hasconsequently led to the growth of slums which further contributes tothe overall water crisis as it leads to economic water scarcity. Onebillion people from all over the globe without access to potablewater are in poor areas of the cities and communities. Nikolau addedthat Latin America does not have an aggregate water shortage sincethere is more than enough water for all citizens. This implies thatthe challenge of urbanization in the cities leads to shortages. Evenwith the expansion of the water resources, wealthy neighborhoods havebeen favored as poor residents are excluded. Where there is adequatewater, there are differences in quality of water and reliability ofsupply. This means that in these countries, water scarcity manifestas uneven distribution.
Theproblem of water crisis has also affected countries such as Canadaand Australia. Water resources in Australia are becoming scarce andvariable (Ceil67).Australia faces the problem of degraded urban waterways(Huang & Zhou 382). They added that urbanized environment inAustralia leads to 90% of the stormwater entering streams instead ofbeing conserved in water reservoirs, thereby leaving the urbanresidents with sterile water when the rains stop (382). Australiangovernments have in the past and the present based the economy on theexploitation of the natural resources leading to the devastatingdecline in water volumes and quality. With this, the management ofland and water resources has been poor. Logging, mining, andagriculture have benefited the country’s economy. Over the years,the climate and weather patterns have become unsuitable and this hasimpacted the flow of water in the country. The country has ignoredthe CO2emissions making the Australian cities among the highest emitters percapita globally(Ceil 78).Water pollution also leads to scarcity of usable water resource. Thewater in Adelaide has the highest concentrations of heavy metals asthe city has lead metal concentrations four times the guidelinevalues, which contaminate water sources, thus, making the waterunsafe for human consumption (Huangand Zhou 384).In addition, Europe and the United States have also experienced watercrisis as a result of lead poisoning. Individuals who consumed waterfrom the lead pipes suffered from various diseases such as wrist dropand blue gum line. In one fatal scenario, the affected individualconsumed an approximated lead level that was 1300 times more than theEPA standard. Further, the increased rate of industrialization andurbanization has led to higher emissions of compounds such asnitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere. Once thesecompounds react with oxygen or water, they form acidic pollutantscommonly referred to as acid rain. Acid rain is one of the leadingcauses of water pollution as it makes the water unsafe for humanconsumption (Sellers 1). Often, acid rain increases the risk of anindividual contracting lung and heart disorders such as bronchitis.
Canadaprides itself on having nine percent of the global freshwatersupplies. Looking at these statistics, there is a false impressionthat Canada has more than enough portable water which is not thecase. With urbanization, poor water management, and global warming,the water crisis is a new reality for Canadians(Mitchell 23).The concentration of its citizen in the south border is aconsiderable strain on the supply of water. Mitchelladded that the Western Prairie Provinces is in the rain shadow of theRock Mountains and offers a classic example of the effects of climatechange as the areas have been receiving a very little amount ofrainfall over the past years(19). Industrial expansion and populationgrowth, as well as Alberta Oil Sands Company, increase water usage.This water is taken from the river. The rivers are fed by glacierswhich will melt with global warming leading to unstable allocation ofquality water. The impact is felt among the indigenous people and thegeneral population that depends on it as there will be no enoughwater to cater for their domestic needs
Mostresidents of New York City are going without water for more than tendays. Crane-Newman Molly, a reporter in N.Y Daily News, states thatresidents of Troy, New York survived without water for ten daysbecause there was a break of the system. Others could boil water dueto breakages of the drainage system. The municipalities demand moneyto repair water systems after spending more than $800 million totreat wastewater and more than $300 million to repair infrastructureused for drinking water (‘8 Major Cities Running Out of Water’1). The governor is requesting hugesumsof money from the government to upgrade sewage treatment plants,drinking water mains, and storm drainage systems. Chemicals in thewater supply link to the kitchenware causing illnesses such ascancer, Immune problems, bone problems, and diabetes.
Tokyois facing a water crisis, being the capital city in Japan. Althoughthe city receives average precipitation similar to that received inLondon, the rainfall is compressed in four months making two shortseasons of typhoon and monsoon. As a result, it proves difficult tocapture and store a lot of water within the short period. In case onerainy season is weak, drought is experienced in the region. Shortagesof water in Tokyo have triggered actions of collecting water alongRyogoku Kokugikan route for use in toilets (‘8 Major Cities RunningOut of Water,’ 1). Low levels of water in the four rivers of Tokyoindicate a major crisis of water among 30 million people. The16,000-mile plumbing system in Tokyo depends on surface water fromlakes and rivers, which is not enough. The city faces waterchallenges since 30 percent of it is sourced from wells andunderground aquifers. Greater shortages are faced during cyclicaldroughts since the city has no alternative sources to tap water andthe water levels in the aquifers is usually lower. The overall effectis that at such times, the city can no longer meet the water demandsof its residents, hence, forcing quite a number of them to live indeplorable conditions, which are usually unfit for human survival. Inaddition, a lot of people have also lost their lives as a result oflack of water for human consumption. According to the World WaterOrganization report in 2015, a child dies in every five minutes as aresult of water-related diseases (‘The Water Scarcity in DevelopingCountries: Effects on Women and Children,’ 1). The report indicatesthat in the developing nations, people have to make a decision onwhether to consume contaminated water (which is risky for theirhealth) or to succumb to death as well.
Also,Cairo faces water crisis although it has received ample water supplywithin five thousand years ago. The mouth of river Nile has supportedthe growth of the population. However, with increase inindustrialization and growth of the population, Cairo has experiencedpoor drainage of municipal sewage, regulation of factories andmanagement of agricultural waste, which makes the water from RiverNile unsafe for human consumption (‘8 Major Cities Running Out ofWater,’ 1). The increase in waste and irrigation activities makesNile River unable to handle the discharge in the river, andchlorination activities are now considered before dumping water inthe river. This leads to scarcity of water for the urban dwellers. Inaddition, residents in Cairo are also at a risk of suffering fromwater-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which is as aresult of the waste disposed into the River Nile. According to areport by The Water Project, approximately eighty percent of all thediseases in the developing countries are as a result of water-borneailments and poor sanitation conditions.
LisaNikolau indicates that the level of water in Cantareira system – inBrazil – has fallen to six percent, which supplies water to Sa Paulocity, Brazil. Every century experiences the worst drought and thisbeing the second year, reservoirs in Sao Paulo has fallen to lessthan a quarter capacities from 40 percent level over the last yearsalthough the government is investing in projects (such as theconstruction of dams and drilling of wells) that are aimed atcountering the crisis. Despite the heavy rains experienced in thecity, there are no reservoirs outside of the city to conserve thewater. The polluted reservoirs have very little capacity to supplymetropolitan area having more than 20 million people. Lack ofreservoirs leads to massive floods in the city streets after littlerain.
Lastly,Beijing is facing water crisis due to a close down of the secondlargest reservoir in 1997 due to pollution from agriculture andfactories. China is experiencing a water crisis as a result of itsever increasing population, hence, constraining its water resourceswhich are equal to six percent of fresh water. The situation isgetting worse since there is little rain in Northern parts of Chinathan it had been one century ago (‘8 Major Cities Running Out ofWater,’ 1). Vast Miyun reservoir, which is 100 miles outsideBeijing, has reduced its reserves by almost two-thirds due toincreasing irrigation. Moreover, agricultural run-off (such as soilerosion, agricultural fertilizers, and pesticides) pollutesreservoirs in Beijing City. This is because as the runoff flows, itcarries with it pollutants – such as toxic pesticides andfertilizers– and deposits the pollutants into water bodiesincluding rivers and lakes. Consequently, the water from thesesources becomes unfit for human consumption. In urban areas, asimilar phenomenon is referred to as industrial runoff, where wateror melted snow flows, carrying with it pollutants such as plasticbags and other industrial waste.
Inconclusion, water crisis affects various cities on the planet. Morethan 1.2 billion people suffer due to shortages of water. Cities aremost affected because of an increase in people migrating to urbanareas and constructions affecting underground sources of water. As aresult, fresh water production reduces and is unevenly distributed inthe cities. In addition, water crisis also results in some adverseeffects such as decreased agricultural production all over the globe.Some of the principal causes of water crisis include industrialpollution, soil erosion and pollution from agricultural fertilizersand pesticides. The water supply officials are recommended toincrease more reservoirs to store water enough for people living inthe cities.
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