Alexander Lane specialises in the development of water strategy and planning that acknowledges the interrelationships between water, other natural resources and human interests. As a consultant in the UK and Australia, Alex has advised a diverse range of public bodies and global companies on the preparation and implementation of robust and sustainable approaches to the management of water that deliver not just immediate gains, but also long-term and mutually beneficial outcomes.
Michael Norton is an expert in water engineering and management, has contributed to over 100 studies and projects in 20 countries, and was awarded an MBE for his outstanding services to water and international trade. With experience in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, Michael's technical interests include water security, water footprint, sustainable wastewater treatment, urban drainage and the water-food-energy system. He now provides consultancy to private sector, public sector, government and non-government organisations on a regional, national and international scale.
Sandra Ryan specialises in strategic water resource planning, focusing on finding traditional and alternative solutions in situations where demand for water exceeds the resource available for supply. With a career background in water utility based water resource planning and regulation in the UK, Sandra is transferring these technical principles to clients in the industrial and commercial sectors battling water risks, and national and local governments seeking to build resilience.
Water Resources in the Twenty-First Century
In Earth's 45th millionth century a global crisis of freshwater scarcity is looming, a crisis that is accelerating thanks to our unbridled development and our burgeoning demand for food and energy, and as a result of the effects of climate change. Just 0.1% of the total global water volume of 1.4 billion km3 is accessible freshwater; we are already withdrawing one-quarter of our accessible renewable water resource (RWR) however, much of which is already needed to sustain our ecosystems and biodiversity, themselves vital for our survival.
In this book, we argue that the world faces water security challenges of a scale previously unseen and largely unsuspected by its population. Estimates suggest that we need four times the current global rate of investment in new water supplies if we are to successfully meet projected water demand in 2030 (2030 WRG 2009). To have any chance of meeting future water demands, we believe there is a compelling need for water professionals to emerge from their comfort zones and to engage with politicians, decision makers and those stakeholders with influencing power. While we can and should continue to develop cost-efficient water technologies, water professionals must grasp this moment to put themselves at the centre of the often-siloed disciplines of science, technology, politics, environment and economics. New models of integrated water management are required to address complex multi-stakeholder demand patterns and water-related responsibilities.
1.1 A Looming Crisis
On 31 October 2011, a baby girl born in Manila was chosen to symbolise the 7 billionth human being on the planet. Although the rate at which the global population is growing has almost halved since the 1970s, in the last 40 years the world's population has still doubled. Alongside this increase, strong economic growth has seen standards of living rise dramatically in the developed world. Forecasts of population growth suggest that by 2050 there may be 9.5 billion humans sharing the planet, most of them living in our ever-expanding cities. We have already reached a point where more than half of all people live in urban areas, and this proportion is expected to rise to two-thirds later this century. The influence of these demographic trends on water resources in discussed further in Section 2.3.3 and in detail in Chapter 4 'Live'.
Significant volumes of research have been carried out and continue to be conducted into potential scenarios of climate change and their projected impacts on RWR and water demand. The evidence is strong that the influences are real and that the impacts are already with us and set to intensify (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2013). Very broadly, predictions are for increased rainfall and runoff in higher latitudes and reduced rainfall and runoff in tropical and mid-to lower latitudes. The volumes of water stored in glaciers are expected to fall, thereby reducing annual meltwater flows and in turn affecting water supplies in dependent areas such as Peru and California. Higher temperatures will exacerbate water pollution problems in many rivers and lakes, and will increase evaporation from open waterbodies and soil. More intense rainfall events will result in more frequent stormwater flooding in urban areas as well as from rivers.
1.2 Human Interactions with Water in the Biosphere
It is estimated that the world's total RWR is between 33,500 km3 and 47,000 km3 per year (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Vast amounts of this resource are, for all practical purposes, unavailable due to their remoteness relative to demand (for example in the Amazon Basin, Canada, Greenland and Russia). It has been estimated that only around 50% of the global RWR can be accessed (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).
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